Friday, January 17, 2014

Happy New Year - January 6, 2014
Sorry about the whole internet not working thing... that´s a bummer.  Hope that can get fixed soon.  For next week could you please send me the addresses of Sis Frischknect and Uncle Paul so I can send them thank yous.  I am always behind in my letter writing here.  There is never enough time to get everything done!  And in my mission we come home early at like 8 or 8:30 since it is a bit sketchy here... Idk how those poor US missionaries do it when they get home at 10 and only have 1 hour to write each week and all that.  I suppose it´s fair though since they get cars and laundry machines and... well I don´t feel too bad for them ha ha. 
The next changes are Feb. 5 so it would be good to send the package really whenever you´d like now.  Since it´ll take 4 weeks to get here if you sent it today it already wouldn´t arrive until after changes... so any day is fine.  I´ll just keep brainstorming of anything else I need.  Don´t send the good walking sandals still.  I´ll wait on those... just the flip flops please.  Please let Grandma know that I got her package.  Tell her thanks so, so much!  I especially liked those graham crackers with chocolate and peanut butter inside and the caramels too.  I love, love, love my new pillowcase!  It is already on my bed looking beautiful. 
Also your Mother Goose package arrived with the Calendar!  That is so fabulous, I have seen other missionaries with one like that from their families and I was jealous ha ha.  but no more!  Although I don´t look so cute in all of those pics, doesn´t matter because I get to see my family and that´s what´s most important.  You included all my favorite places and marked everyone´s birthday and it is really a fabulous gift.  Thanks so much!     
I wish the holidays would end... they are still going on since it is Dia de los Reyes today.  This is getting ridiculous. JK Things went so surprisingly well for Christmas... but apparently for Sister Reyes New Years is a bigger deal for her family so all day the 31st she was so sad.  She would just talk and talk about all the things her family would be doing and what she would be missing, I got so tired of it, she wanted me to stay up with her to watch the fireworks as we had permission to do so from our front porch, but I just went to bed at like 9:30 and told her to wake me up at midnight so she could go outside to see the fireworks.  I just kind of wanted to forget it was New Years all together.  We did have a dinner of chips and salsa with tuna fish sandwiches ha ha which is very classy for Honduras.  But she is still sad because today is Dia de los Reyes and since her family is Familia Reyes, they always make a big celebration on that day.
This week lots of really good things happened and funny things too.  Every Friday we eat lunch with the Familia Zelaya and they have a goat named Copito that is like their pet and they just love him.  They just found him abandoned one day when he was just a baby and they raised him up.  When they went to their relatives in San Pedro for Christmas, they brought the goat with them.  Hermana Reyes for some reason is very afraid of this goat and so when she gets all freaked out it spooks the goat too and so Friday the goat came up and nudged her and was nibbling on her backpack because that´s what goats do... the week before it tried to eat my skirt... but anyways it scared her so bad she was trying to push it away and it kept coming back so she got up and ran to the door and the goat ran after her and was trying to head butt her.  It was so funny.  Don´t worry the goat is too old and just has little nubs for horns so it couldn´t really do much damage, but it was pretty funny.  The Familia Zelaya says they plan on buying a girl goat to have little goat babies with Copito so that they can eat goat.  But they say they´ll never eat Copito, only his children.  ha ha

Anyways... in other news... Anyeli was supposed to get baptized this Saturday.  She was so ready!  She studies the scriptures hard core every time we visit.  The Book of Mormon and the Bible and marks it and has questions... Last time we taught the word of wisdom and she was like oh but I love coffee and we explained why we shouldn´t drink coffee and asked if she was willing to do it and she said yes and we promised to bring her alternatives to coffee like hot chocolate etc. ha ha and we also explained the law of chastity and she was like, well that´s easy I already am doing that.  And we were so excited!  Then for some reason she didn´t come to church on Sunday... and she has to be at church the Sunday before the baptism so we plan on just moving it to the next Saturday.  She really is ready.  She is so darling.  She´ll be such a wonderful example to her mom and her cousin that she lives with.  We will go visit her tomorrow to see what´s up...
We have a inactive member who we have started visiting and her husband who is not a member (they say husband and wife but really no one here is actually married, they just live together and no one ever gets married...)  and this inactive member has a darling little 6 year old girl from another boyfriend named Jade.  This woman lived in the US for 18 months at one point to be able to earn enough money to buy a nice house for herself here in Honduras.  She worked as a house maid and I feel so terrible for how rude people were to her there.  It makes me embarrassed for my country.  She talked about one lady in particular who had a whole room in her house just as a bedroom for her dogs.  And that this lady was crazy and just went around getting her hair done and lying around all day and the dogs could just do whatever and she would have to clean it all up.  She said the lady would speak really slowed down English and treat her like she was an idiot, and she said she´d just smile and nod and say she understood when she really didn´t speak any English at all.  She said after the lady would explain everything she wanted her to clean, she would call her friend and tell her the words she remembered and her friend had cleaned the lady´s house before so could tell her what the lady wanted.  Then she´d work all day long without really eating much most days so she could be independent and have a house of her own and take care of herself in Honduras.  And sure enough she did.  She was just so shocked by how people could have bedrooms just for dogs and be so greedy when all she has here is a little 3 room house.  And she always always always gives us food when we come and she is a good cook too.  She always lets us practice our tortilla making skills with her too ha ha.  She looks kind of rough around the edge when you first meet her because she has her tattoos and just says what she wants to say, she is so sassy, but she really is a big softie and takes care of her family really well.  I hope that she can start coming back to the church real soon and that her husband can get baptized and little girl too someday in the future, as right now she is only 6.  I really like their family.

People really are progressing these days finally.  Though actually it almost becomes more stressful as people let you into their live more and more ha ha.  Last night I couldn´t hardly fall asleep I was thinking about two investigators and all the other people we visit all the time and how are we going to help them and when are we going to visit them and when they don´t keep their promises how can we make it all ok and wow.  That is a good sign though.  Maybe I´m actually finally doing my job right.  ha ha  But really it is such a great thing to be a missionary.  I feel like I have come a long way though I have much more to improve still.  My Spanish is doing much better, and I have made lots of wonderful relationships here. 
Please tell Nana and Broc happy birthday for me.  Maybe by June they´ll have bday cards from me ha ha.  Tell them both I love them very much and really was thinking about them this week. 
Have lots of fun starting back up with school and work and everything.  I love you all so, so much!  I am so, so grateful for the wonderful friends and family I have been so blessed with. 

Love, Hermana Johnson

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Feliz Navidad Everyone - December 30, 2013
Thanks so, so much for always writing me every week.  I am so, so grateful for a family that loves me so much and supports me so much.  I feel your love and prayers for me every day even though we are far away.  I am so blessed to have such a peace of mind that I always will have a family who loves me and a place where I am always welcome and can feel that I belong.  My Heavenly Father has been so good to me. 
Skyping with you people for Christmas was fabulous!  Though I feel like I should've written down beforehand what I wanted to say.  I was so happy to see your faces I couldn't think straight.  I felt like I wasn't talking like my regular self until the last 30 minutes.  But it was really wonderful for me.  Though I even had a little trouble remembering how to say some things in English.  It wasn't a distraction for me, rather something to really motivate me and put new wind into my sails.  I was glad we didn't have any problems connecting like poor Sister Reyes, though don't worry she got to skype her family later that day without any more glitches.  Sorry if I seemed sad, it was really just that I cried because I was happy to see you after so long, and realizing that I'll have to repeat it all over again next Christmas isn't the happiest thought but it'll all be alright.  We really did have a nice Christmas.  We didn't just sit there and feel bad about not being with our families, though everyone of course wants to be with their family for Christmas.  We just made the most of what we did have, which was actually a lot.  Seriously.  I was only expecting like one or 2 packages and, well I got a whole lot more.  And the opportunity to be a missionary is of course a wonderful gift at anytime of year.  Thanks to everyone!

Brie Skyping with her family on Christmas day

Brie's family Skyping on the other end

Hermanas Reyes and Johnson with Christmas presents 
I would like to call back to my elementary school days, where I recall making little books of my favorite Christmas sights, smells, tastes, touches, and sounds for my parents for Christmas.  And so here are the top 5 Christmastime sights, smells, tastes, touches and sounds of Honduras according to Hermana Johnson.  They may not necessarily be the top 5 as in the best, but top 5 as in the most memorable things that occurred the week of Christmas.  
1. My family via Skype obviously
2. All of the trees and lights that people put up here.  I was actually quite shocked.  Most of these people are pretty poor but everyone has a pretty good looking tree.  Like a big American decorated Christmas tree.  Idk where they store those things all year in their 2 or 3 room houses, but somehow everyone has one. 
3. My own darling decorations that my mother sent me for our apartment. 
4. On Friday I was chased down by a herd of cows.  We were walking to our visit of a less active sister, and we saw some cows in the distance walking towards us, and we were like look at the cute cows!  We assumed they'd just go into the nearby field, but then they got closer and closer to us on the main road (by main road I mean dirt path) and started coming at us.  We had to run up a nearby hill to escape.  I did not have my camera this day unfortunately. Just know that cows are no respecters of persons.  On the topic of cows... I am called back to the South where some of my favorite TV stars reside, the Robertson Family.  I really enjoyed all my Duck Dynasty themed gifts thanks to David and Hunter.  Now missionaries get pretty excited about decorating their planners that we get each six weeks.  It's kind of big deal here.  When you start your trainer does it for you because they're your mom or dad in the mission and it's tradition.  So this was my first time making my planner myself, and I used some of the pages from the Duck Dynasty quote book.  I hope Hunter is not sad I ripped the pages out.
5. The stars were just magically clear for Christmas.  That was cool.  There's one that is especially bright here, so I think it might actually be a planet, but I don't know that much about astronomy so somebody please look up what planet can be easily viewed from Honduras. 
1. Cinnamon!  Magically I got to have the smell of cinnamon in my house as mom sent cinnamon caramels and so the whole package smelled of cinnamon and after we opened it the whole apartment smelled of cinnamon for a few days.  Nice touch for Christmas
2. Tortillas, because we are in Honduras after all
3. Coconuts, Familia Calderon gave us coconuts for Christmas.  They just sliced them open with a machete and we got to drink the stuff inside... I already can't remember what that is called in English, and then we ate the white part inside.  So, so delicious.  Coco frio is the greatest.  We've had coconuts with them before, the last time Hermana Reyes wanted to slice hers open herself.  It is actually harder than it looks to use a machete.  I didn't that day because just watching her try made me tired so I let the Calderons do it so I could eat already.  Two weeks ago we did service for someone where we tried to help them clear out the tree branches that had fallen in a storm behind their house.  Tried and failed because where they could slice the branches with 2 or 3 whacks with a machete, it took us 12 to 20.  no more machetes for me...
4. Tea!  Hot Chocolate!  It actually cooled down again, not to be cold of course, just a nicer cooler climate and the herbal tea and hot chocolate was so great those days
5. 4 days without water in the house... as I told you people already, how normally the water or electricity goes out at random times during the week, but usually just for 3 or 4 hours and magically comes back.  Due to mucho rain the water for the houses started to get too dirty and muddy so they shut off the water for 4 days to clean things up.  As you can imagine the bathroom did not smell so good these days.  I hope that never happens again.... As I also didn't shower during those days and walking on dirt trails all day every day I didn't smell so nice either.  ha ha ha
1. Tamales!  The tradition here for Christmas is lots of tamales and sandwiches for Christmas, whereas if someone tried to give an American a sandwich for Christmas dinner they would not be so impressed.  We are beyond blessed to have what we have in the US.  Tamales taste pretty good, the problem is that no one debones any meat ever.  So you have to be careful to not eat the bones as you're chowing down on your tamales.  They would be so much better if they took the bones out!  It's too much work to pick them out when I just want to eat my tamale.  I am too spoiled I suppose.  They still taste good though. 
2. Fried Chicken, as I think I already told you, we had a pretty good Christmas dinner I feel.  We had instant mashed potatoes and stuffing that mom sent.  With mushroom soup for gravy.  We had spaghetti too because Hermana Reyes really wanted that on the Christmas menu as well.  We also bought fried chicken from Hermana Isabel who works across the street from us.  We go to her restaurant at least once a week for baleadas or pollo con tajadas.  And coca cola of course. 
3. Hot chocolate!  Please send more
4. Cookie Butter... We had a special Christmas dinner with the Hermanas in our ward last Saturday where we ate pancakes with cookie butter, nutella, pineapple jam from here in Honduras, and syrup.  That was pretty tasty.  Everyone loved it so thanks so much to Uncle Dave for sending it! 
5. Pepsi and Coca Cola.  I'll just always be grateful for those, though I do miss Dr. Pepper here
1. The ward had a dance to celebrate Christmas, so it was really good that we were able to have some sort of activity.  I secretly enjoyed listening to regular music for a time.
2. Anyeli now has a date to be baptized so that was wonderful to hear!  Jan. 11!  Though she says she doesn't feel completely ready, that she wants to read and learn more first.  But we told her we'd help her to know all she needs to know beforehand and she agreed to set the goal of the 11th.  whooo. 
3. We also met the cousin of Anyeli who lives with her, named McDeli.  (I know it sounds like a  McDonald's sandwich, but I love them both.)  McDeli went to the ward dance and liked it so much, she said she'd like to be one of those Mormons.  whooooooo!
4.  Lots and lots of fireworks for Christmas... like the whole week of Christmas.  And that's not going to stop as New Year's is just around the corner.  There are some pretty surprisingly loud ones.  Like its WW3 here.  
5. The Michael Buble Christmas CD of course.  Oh and I should tell you I kept our family tradition of reading Luke 2 before opening presents and it was quite lovely.  Hermana Reyes says she wants to do that now when she has here own family.  Bien hecho padres
1. Beating up our piƱata
2. Unwrapping presents from home
3. Lots and lots of rain!  whoooooo!
4. Though #3 led to lots and lots of water in the street... so as we were walking to skype on Christmas day a bus drove by and a giant wave of water like engulfed the lower two-thirds of my body.  I was so shocked.  I didn't think there were waves that big from cars in real life... only in movies.  But no, a car really can soak your whole body if it drives by fast enough in deep enough water. ha ha
5. All the little kids just love to give us hugs, even though we aren't supposed to do that... there's really not anything you can do as they just run straight at you and hug you.  You just kind of stand there awkwardly cuz your supposed to keep your distance from little kiddies according to the rule book, but it's still pretty cute.
And that's pretty much how Christmas went.  I hope all of you loved your Christmas and can find all you could ever hope for in the upcoming year!  Much love!
Hermana Johnson