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 piñata
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

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