Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Goodbye Campana - February 3, 2014
Don´t worry family, I am back in Puerto Cortes to write this week so I´m back to my regular 2 hours.  whooooo!  Today for lunch we went for smoothies... Let me tell you just how delicious all the fruit here in Honduras is.  Oh my goodness!  I eat papaya and bananas at my house almost every day too.  And it is so cheap compared to America of course.  I can buy a papaya as long as my arm for the equivalent of 2 dollars.  I am going to miss that a lot when I get back to America.  I love all the maracuya and green mangos and avocados and... well I realize I have a lot of photos that need taking now.  The only setback is we don´t have a good cutting knife in our house, so everything we chop open with a butter knife.

Brie enjoying her favorite Honduran snack - green mangos - yum!
Also... I don´t recall if I´ve told you this already.  Here in Campana there is a Catholic church with a big huge bell that when it rings all of Campana can hear it.  Every time  someone dies in Campana (which isn´t that large) they ring the bell.  It has been ringing nonstop all month!  People have been dying left and right.  It rings like 3 times a day at least!  Lots of people have been getting murdered lately... It reminds us that we aren´t in the safest place in the world.  They say it´s the norm for lots of people to die in January.  Idk what´s up with that.

I have no idea where I´m going and I haven´t said goodbye to anybody because, well I really don´t want anyone to know.  I´ll tell the people I am closest with goodbye tomorrow.  I feel like that´s the easiest way to do it.  Also you asked about packages... They should come next week.  None of my packages have ever come opened or like someone tried to open them.  They come with all their contents pretty intact.  I´ve had two letters come opened but nothing wrong with packages. 

This week a couple we are teaching had to go to San Pedro and ran out of time to study and they felt So BAD.  They were like on the verge of tears.  The minute we walked in the door we didn´t even say anything they just said hermanas we are so sorry we haven´t studied!  We feel so horrible!  Please give us a second chance and went straightaway to reading right then and there.  We didn´t even say a word and they were so distressed.  It is a MASSIVE change.  This is a couple that a few weeks ago was hitting each other and chasing each other around the house with knives, and now are serious scriptorians.  They talk to each other now with so much love and seem so much happier.  They at first glance seemed rough around the edges but they are big teddy bears inside and really have changed.  I am very, very concerned about them though, because last week the wife was saying how she knew that every once and a while the missionaries get switched and new ones come, and she said she´s never felt comfortable with any other missionaries only with us.  She told us that if one of us get switched her husband won´t be baptized.... ughhhhhh.  I´m not really sure what to do as I have to tell her tomorrow that I´m leaving.  We just have to pray that I can talk her into letting the new sister into her house.   They have changed SO MUCH I can´t even explain it.  It is truly miraculous.  I will really miss this darling family. 

Enjoying some crab soup at a member's home - not bad for a girl who wasn't much of a seafood fan before her mission

In other news... I guess I´m partially ready for a new area too for the opportunity to start fresh, but we´ll see whether that´d be a blessing or a curse.  JK all the mission is a blessing, sometimes you have to do a little working to get to the blessing part.  I am very grateful to be a representative of Christ in these last days.  More than any other theme, I am learning the most about repentance.  It was never really anything that I thought about much before the mission because I´ve never had a super huge sin that I needed to rid myself of, but really all of us are imperfect and even if our imperfections aren´t that big, they are still imperfections and we must constantly be seeking to be better.  When we confess to God our imperfections and ask His help to cure them, only then can we truly overcome them and feel the love of our Savior for us as we strive to become more like Him.  The more I rely on Christ the easier those changes become.  I must seek to repent myself if I expect that from others. 
I love you all so much and hope all is well in Highland!  Thanks for all the support and love you always send my way.

Love Hermana Johnson

Monday, February 24, 2014

Dear Familia y Amigos - January 27, 2014
Things are going well this week thanks.  There has been quite a lot of rain... as in when I hiked up the mountain it was more like hiking up a waterfall... that probably wasn´t the safest idea, we normally don´t do that, but we felt like we should so up we went. Don´t worry I won´t do it again.  The elders in another area had so much rain that the water rose up over their heads and they had to swim out!  I thought they were joking, but sure enough where they were visiting that day the water rose that high! One couldn´t swim and the other had to drag him out, poor things.  Also when there is lots of rain they turn off your water.  So for us we went without for 2 days, but for them it was for 4 or 5 days and still hasn´t come back.  They had to go to the house of some elders in another area to shower.  Lots of adventures in the mission.

This is the very steep trail that Brie climbs almost every day to go to the village to teach 
I do have transfers on the 5th so we shall see where I end up.  I enjoyed this transfer.  I feel like the area is much better than when I first got here and that´s the goal right?  My goals are to always leave my areas better than how I found them and that all my companions could never speak ill of me, that they would all love me.  We shall see how it goes in the upcoming round!  But really there are very special people here in Campana.

Brie's apartment - She lives on the second floor - and says it's actually kind of cute inside.  She used to live on the bottom and said "it's kind of sketchy!"
We had a conference on Thursday where Elder Suarez from the area seventy came to speak to us.  He spoke all about the importance of obedience and good planning.  It was cool because all the missionaries from the San Pedro Sula West and East missions came together for it.  We took up the whole chapel and the gym behind.  The chapel in El Benque in San Pedro is a massive chapel with two floors.  They use it for all the big church events in Honduras, and that´s where we always go for transfers and things.  I got to sit with Hermana Gardner so I was happy.
In other news... Linora and her husband Olvin are really progressing.  Unfortunately he will be working for the next 3 weekends so he can´t come to church until after that... booooooooo.  They study hardcore the scriptures together - it is so cute.  They always have a little notebook filled with questions for us.  The last time we went, we left the Joseph Smith movie with them to watch before we came again.  On that disc there are a bunch of other church movies too and it just so happened they watched every single movie except the Joseph Smith one they were supposed to watch.  So we ended up watching it with them, and Olvin really is starting to believe it all.  I am so happy!  Their family is just too darn cute.  I hope to see them all sealed together in the temple some day.
Yesterday was cool as we had our first lesson with a lady named Rosa.  She works in her pulperia all day but said we could stop by whenever to chat so yesterday we took her up on that offer.  It would be the american equivalent of teaching someone as they are working the counter at the gas station.  But she really liked the message, and we gave her a Book of Mormon, and she says she´s going to read it.  
You know what else?  The other day one of our investigators revealed to me that tons and tons of missionaries have come before us to try to teach her, but she never really felt like they cared about her.  She said they´d make a plan to visit her and she´d say it was ok to be nice, but then would do all in her power to make sure she wasn´t there when they came by.  She said when Hermana Cifuentes and I first came to teach her it was by pure chance because we really had a visit with a member scheduled but she just happened to be there in the house of the member too.  She told me that when I spoke that day that there was something special about me.  That she felt like I cared about her in the way I spoke and looked at her and she wanted to keep listening to me.  She said that was the first time that she had wanted to hear from the missionaries.  When she said that I was so shocked.  I remember that day clearly, and my broken Spanish and all my inadequacies but that somehow still God used me to touch her heart.  It pretty much made my whole week.  It made me realize that every moment we have is of grand importance, and that we never really know when we can touch people.  If I hadn´t been there and tried my best to testify that day despite my inadequacies, she probably would not be a member now.  I really know now that God chooses specific missionaries for specific people and that we must do all in our power to be obedient and testify at all times or we won´t do the work he needs us to do.  I am so grateful I was ready that day. 
I love you all so much and hope you are all happy and healthy and having a great week!  
Love, Hermana Johnson   

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Five Months Today! - January 20, 2014
I'm doing well.  Yes today is the 5 month mark of my mission here in Honduras.  It is very odd how time goes by so quickly in the mission.  It is already going to be February soon.  Tell Hunter thanks for his South Beach Christmas card.  That was pretty funny ha ha.  I'm so glad things are going well for him these days. 
Seasons Greetings Hermana Johnson from South Beach!
This week went really well as we had a baptism on Saturday!  Whooooooo!  My first real baptism, and I was lucky enough to be there for the entire process, like from the time we received her as a reference up until the day that she was baptized.  We have become such good friends with her and her family.  I think we shall see more baptisms with them in the future.  On Saturday before the baptism we went to her house to make a special lunch of fried fish with tostenes (where you fry plantains, mash them into a flat pancake form and fry them again).  It is Hermana Reyes's favorite food from home and our investigator loves fish so that's what we made for the baptismal lunch.  It was pretty good actually.  Although I literally have a big bruise on my right palm from smashing plantains with a metal cup for an hour.  Our investigator is learning to be a hairdresser, so I let her practice on me.   Don't worry she did a pretty good job, I shall send a pic.  It is much shorter now but much healthier.  I was so shocked when she cut so much off, but I can still put it in a top knot so I don't care.  It's less to take care of and it turned out well. 
Brie getting her first haircut in Honduras
The baptism was really great as her mom came, her cousin that she lives with had to work unfortunately.  Lots of people came.  It almost didn't happen as she didn't decide she wanted to be baptized until the night before.  We visited her every single day this week to resolve her doubts and questions, and everything magically worked out.  The Spirit truly does all the converting, because when I think back on what I did I can't recall saying or doing anything particularly marvelous.  Heavenly Father really prepares His children to accept His message, we just have to show up.  Of course we study and prepare every day to help, but only the Spirit changes the hearts of the people.  My words do not cause the earth to shake or fire to descend from the heavens, but the Holy Ghost shakes the hearts of those we teach and lights a fire within them to want to be a part of the happiness we have only through the gospel.
Baptism day!

Confirmation Day!
Yesterday a boy in our ward received his mission call to Puerto Rico.  It reminded me of the day I first got my call.  Whooooo, that was a long time ago.  Those were ugly days just sitting there waiting for it to come.  I would never want to relive that part ever again.  My how times have changed!  Yesterday we ate so much I nearly barfed.  A massive late lunch and 2 big dinners and one other sister wanted to give us dinner but we said we had to run to another appointment to avoid dying from a 20 tortilla induced heart attack.  Today all I ate was an ice cream cone as Monday I let my belly rest a while from expanding like a pregnant lady.  I'm going to get stretch marks I swear. 
Sorry if that last comment was a little too worldly.  I still have much to improve and learn from.  It is possible that I could stay in Campana one change more but I highly doubt it.  But we shall find out on Feb. 3... I'm fine with whatever happens.  I love hearing about all the missionaries from home.  It is so wonderful to hear about all the service being done across the world.  I shall be praying for Grandma that she can have a quick recovery.  Keep me posted on that.  Tell her I love her very much and will write soon. 
I liked the thought mom sent.  I am just so lucky to have her around!  It has been cooler this week thank heavens.  It has been fabulous weather.  And it only rained once during the night so our water didn't even get shut off once this week.  Whooooooooo.  That was good news.  
Other ways that I have changed in the past 5 months.... I now eat chile or hot sauce with just about everything.  It makes it so much more flavorful.  I think I'll probably bring like 10 bottles home with me.  I'm better with budgeting.  I have a lot more patience.  I am bilingual.  I can cook (and clean) like a HondureƱa and Dominicana.  I have a lot more freckles.  I know a lot more scriptures.  I care much more about others and know better how to love and serve them.  I teach the gospel more clearly.  I have more love and appreciation for our Savior Jesus Christ.  I have more humility and am more grateful for what I have.  I have even more love for all my family and friends.  More optimism, more faith.  A greater knowledge of just how inadequate I am.... idk if I even spelled that right ha ha I am forgetting English.
I love you all so much.
Much love,
Hermana Johnson    
Cobra - No Way! - January 13, 2014

Wow, there is a lot of stuff happening these days.  I can hardly keep up!  Please tell Nana hi for me and that I love her very much!  As for the package... I would like to request more probiotics... 3 months worth please... anddddddd one of the secret cocobutter deodorants because it is my favorite and it costs a fortune here $9 US for just one!!!  And then I will be set for quite some time.  Thank you very much!  I am looking forward to Dad's postcard also as it is from my favorite place in the world.

This week I got the cutest Christmas letter from my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Park.  She is so thoughtful!  Yes the Griffiths wrote me a while ago so I was finally responding to that.  I get quite behind.  I'm so happy for Quinci!  I know she must be nervous but she'll be a fabulous companion and a fabulous missionary of course.  

Weird thing happened earlier this week when we were off to our visits for Monday night and we usually never take members with us on our Monday night visits because it is usually just with members that live close by to have family home evening... anyway my companion was like I feel we should take Nora with us in our visits.  And I was like ok, that's fine because we passed by her house on the way to our first visit but it was just kind of odd.  But on our way to the second visit with Nora with us it was dark so we were just walking along and Nora says hey there's a snake!  And sure enough there was a big black cobra that neither me or Hermana Reyes saw coming right by my feet.  I thought it was just a branch, but no such luck.... we took of running pretty darn fast, thankfully no one got bitten but if Nora hadn't had come I feel like I might not have been so lucky.  I was very grateful to my companion for acting on her feeling to invite Nora even though you know it wasn't such a big deal for the lessons we taught, it definitely ended up being a big deal for reasons we couldn't have imagined.  It is definitely important to act on all our impressions because we often don't understand why beforehand but it's critical for our spiritual and sometimes even physical well being.
Brie doing her laundry in the backyard pila.  No washing machines here!

Uncle Dan is pretty fly to go all the way to England for Uncle Paul.  That's pretty darn neat actually.  I will pray lots for Hunter and his decision of when to serve his mission... though in my personal opinion I still feel it would be wise for him to go to college one or 2 semesters beforehand but it is of course his decision that he needs to pray lots for.  I think of him lots and this decision I know is coming up pretty fast.  Please let me know when he starts receiving answers back from colleges about his applications.  

This week hopefully we will finally see a baptism... we have been having problems in that our investigator has been drinking coffee still and this week when we taught about keeping the sabbath day holy she freaked out a bit.  Here a ton of people work what is called the cuatro por cuatro schedule.  As in they work four days straight then have four days off.  that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of!  It is a big struggle for us when we are trying to get people to go to church.  This week she has had a goal to start studying at the university and working her dream job also which just happens to be 4 for 4.  So as we talked about keeping the sabbath day holy and that if she looks for work elsewhere she'll be so much more blessed... well she says she has been praying for so long to have specifically this job and that God will understand if she can't always come to church.  She promises to study the scriptures even more her 4 days of rest, but yeah... she was fighting against that one.  It is the first time she hasn't been like 100% receptive as she's always saying that makes sense yeah I'll do it.  sooooooo this Tuesday we will try to get her to commit to living the sabbath day.  I feel for her.... because you know as she says her desires aren't bad.  She wants to work her dream job and study at the university which are wonderful things, but it is about being obedient and putting the Lord's will before our own and he will always give us a greater happiness than what we earlier could've imagined... I know that's true. A matter of good, better, best. awwwww *sigh* I hope we don't lose her for this.  Any advice you would like to offer would be great, because really she has a testimony and studies the gospel so well.  She pretty much already lives the gospel standards, but leaving the world behind where we are most comfortable is definitely not a walk in the park.  Learning to make the Lord's will our own is a life long struggle we all face.  But it's the best decision we can make.

Well... I love you all very, very much!  I hope everything is well at home in this new year

Love Hermana Johnson