Monday, May 26, 2014

The Easter Bunny is Real and He is from Honduras! - April 21, 2014
Hola Everyone!
Wow!  I absolutely loved your Easter pictures that you sent.  Those were so darling.  I´m so glad Mark and Darren and their families could go spend Easter with you people in Utah.  That is super fun!  

Happy Easter Greeting from the Johnson Family to Hermana Johnson
I would´ve given a thousand limpiras to have cheesy potatoes for Easter.  Here normally the food is pretty alright.  I love baleadas, and pollo con tajadas and tortillas con quesillo with chimole (it´s like a quesadilla with salsa) but the traditional food of Semana Santa is just not wonderful.  People buy these big salty dried fish... they´ve been sitting out to dry for MONTHS, and then they roll it in the same type of mixture that one would use for tamales and they put it in a soup.  Normally I eat everything no matter what.  I am a very dedicated missionary so I almost ate the whole thing, just a little bit fell to some nearby chickens that saved me.  Then for dessert they cook pumpkins in honey which doesn't sound good but that was actually pretty good.   

Also I don´t recall if I already told you about Gringo?  We have a big white rabbit that started visiting our house the week of Easter and his name is Gringo ha ha ha.  He comes every single night to chill out in our back yard around 9, and he´ll sneak up right next to you if you´re real quiet.  So yes the Easter Bunny is actually from Honduras if you wanted to know!!
Also you should know that your Easter package arrived here safe and sound.  This morning we made hard boiled eggs so when we get back home today we´ll go paint and decorate them and celebrate Easter even though it has already passed.   Also tell Rhonda that her family´s package got here safe and sound.  Tell her thanks so very much and if you could please send me her address so I can write a thank you.  

Hermanas Johnson and Mejia coloring Easter eggs
Other things I forgot to tell you... number one I think you people were planning on putting together  a book of all my letters and photos for when I get home... or if not I would like you to do so ha ha ha but I want not just my letters I´ve sent to you, but if possible the letters you have written to me as well... what do you think of that?  Then it will be a giant journal of our whole family and friends and what happened for that year and a half.

 I loved all the photos you sent in your card, and I read your article about Amanda Smith who´s serving in the Philippines that you sent.  Yes I do know her and that was a pretty crazy story.  I feel pretty darn lucky to be where I am after hearing that scary story.  I can´t even imagine how that would be.  

I love that Hermanas Mejia and Gardner get to be with us right now.  I´m so happy to be with Hermana Gardner.  Very few people get to go around with their MTC companion and one of their best buddies in the mission like I do.  We even  talked all about our MTC days with one of the young men in the ward who is getting ready to turn his papers in yesterday and I just was so happy to be there.  

Yesterday was just a really awesome day.  We were sitting in Sacrament Meeting when we got the massive surprise that one of our investigators came to church.  I was so completely shocked.  Her older son  has been a member since October, but her younger son has wanted to get baptized for months and she just hasn´t wanted to give her permission.  She allows us to visit but she made it clear that she herself respects our religion but is Catholic.  My goodness it was so beautiful to have her there and she loved it!  She told us later that her son  had invited her to go to church with him that day, and she didn´t want to go but she said she was just sitting thinking and said a prayer that if it was God´s will that she go to church He would remove all obstacles from her path and make it easy for it to happen.  And that´s how it happened.  She finished making breakfast faster than normal. She wasn´t dressed when her son passed by to bring her, and she said he loves to be punctual and gets super frustrated when other people make him late.  But even though she wasn´t ready, he said mom take your time, and everything just passed smooth as a whistle so she went to church and felt like God wanted her to be there.  Now she says I never thought in all my days that members of my family would go to the Mormon Church, but I´ve seen a grand change in my two sons and I am forever grateful for that.  I thank God every day for the positive changes I´ve seen in my family, and I thought I´d always be Catholic but now who knows if one day I´ll be Mormon too but I loved going to church today, and now my daughter wants to go with me to church next week too.  She loved it!!!!!! I was just so, so happy she came and so very shocked, but she came!!! Wow,  it was wonderful!  Tons of missionaries have visited her and finally as time has passed God has been preparing her heart and now she is finally ready to take it all in.  She says she wants us to teach her now all we know so she can feel the change in her heart that her sons have felt.  

Also we went to visit the son of one of the members because he suddenly changed his mind this past week that he just didn´t want to go on a mission anymore.  We were so shocked and worried.  I think he was feeling like he just wasn´t good enough to be a missionary.  He didn´t want to visit with us or go to church or even talk to us anymore.  But Hermana Gardner and I went just to talk to him and see what was on his mind and after just talking about whatever for a while he finally opened up that he felt like he really couldn´t do it and that he was worried his family couldn't really afford for him to go so he wanted to work to help out his dad pay for everything in place of going on a mission, and we just bore our testimonies and talked about how the mission has changed us for the better and that one´s family is more blessed as one is in the mission than any other place so he need not worry. He finally stopped worrying and said he wanted to go.  He´s going to pray a lot and read in the scriptures. I  know he´ll do it and I hope I can be here the day his call comes because he´d really be a wonderful missionary.   The mission will really change his life for the better and give him the strength and confidence he needs to conquer whatever challenges come his way.  We were just floating on cloud 9 as we left that visit.  We spent like an hour and a half just talking to him trying to figure things out and help him make a good decision, and we felt like in the end he really would do it.  And if we can help just one person come unto the gospel or make the decision to serve a mission, we have had great success and great joy as we can think of how many hundreds of people they can help come unto Christ.

Thanks for letting me know that my letters arrived at last.  I love you all a ton!  Here´s wishing you a wonderful Easter!  Thanks for all your love and support, I can feel it so strong every day.  

Love, Hermana Johnson   

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Happy Easter - April 14, 2014

I am so sorry to hear about Aunt Marlene. She has always been so kind and supportive.  I hope that the family is doing alright.  I shall be praying for them.  

Also say hello to all those who are coming to visit for Easter.  That should be fun. 
I am so so, so very overwhelmed this week.  What happened is that on Thursday they called to tell us that there had been some sort of emergency and 2 new sisters would be moving to Potrerillos to live with us.  So we waited all day long and finally guess who it was?  Hermana Gardner and her companion from Honduras that she is training Hermana Mejia.  They were previously serving in the Colonia de Las Brisas en San Pedro, but it has been so dangerous there they had to leave.  There´s a big war right now between all the gangs and drug dealers, and they started just killing people in the street so there are no longer missionaries there.  They called Hermana Gardner and Hermana Mejia at 6:30 in the morning to tell them they had to pack up and leave and at 4 in the afternoon they were with us.  Very sketchy as of late... We all do fit fine in the apartment.  The only problem is we only have a tiny mini fridge so there is not a lot of room for food for all four of us.  But I love having them here with us.
So happy to be back with Hermana Gardner!
Getting to live with Hermana Gardner is great with me.  The hard part is I am the only one here that knows the area.  The problem is we now have to divide the area between the 4 of us and the assistants to the president called on Saturday to tell me that because I am the only one that knows the area it would be my decision how to divide it up.  It  stresses me out because obviously certain people need certain missionaries to touch their hearts, and I don´t want to give up any of my investigators but we are going to have to do it.  Booooooooo.  I  just don´t know what to do  and everyone knows it is my decision, so I don´t want to offend anyone. This is a big headache. I just have to decide and move on I suppose.  I was so very content not so long ago when it was just me and Hermana Lopez chilling out here in Potrerillos.  Now every week gets more and more stressful.  But after 2 weeks or so it´ll settle down again I´m sure.  

To answer all of mom´s questions.... I am in a ward and my ward is also called Potrerillos.  The goal is that it can soon become a stake.  Uncle Dave´s home teacher´s nephew was my first district leader and yes he was nice and a good leader;  always concerned about making sure all was well with us.  Today for pday we watched "17 miracles" as a district.  It was so incredibly sad we are now even more emotionally exhausted than before.  I feel so bad for Hermanas Gardner and Mejia because they just had to up and leave all their investigators, and couldn´t even say goodbye.  And no new missionaries will be taking their place to finish teaching them, so they pretty much did all that hard work and it´s going to be lost.  

I imagine I´ll stay here with Joaquin one more change because I´m the only one that knows the area to help everybody.  Maybe even 2 more changes.  Who knows?  Just pray that everything will go well with this division.  I´ll talk with Hermana Lopez tomorrow to help me out as well because she knows the area too of course and she´s in my zone so it´s easy to discuss these things.  

Alejandra, one of the newest member in Potrerillos!
That´s all there is really for news here in Potrerillos, but that was a whole lot of change for one week.  Being in divisions has been kind of cool because I  go one day with Hermana Mejia and one day with Gardner and so it´s cool to teach here in Honduras with my MTC  companion.  

The mission is just kind of like life in general.  The more time you have, the more stressful it gets as you have more responsibility and have to make bigger and more important decisions.  But if we seek God´s will, we can know that the decisions will always be the right ones.
I forgot to say, but you asked about what it is we will be doing for Easter.... well here the traditional things to eat are mangos with honey, which I´m not really sure how to describe.  They soak mangos in like a sweet liquid for a couple days so it´s kind of like canned fruit cocktail in it´s taste and texture.   Then something that is tradition is fish torta with soup but i´m quite dreading trying that because they say  the fish gets left out to dry for months. Months people!  Then they put it in a masa so it´s like a tamale and make a soup out of it.  I´ll let you know if someone ends up giving it to us.  We shall see, though I hope not.  That is all for Semana Santa  here,  Easter is a super big deal.  People get work and school off for the entire week so maybe that´s something we could adopt in our country ha ha.  
I love you all very much and hope you all have a great Easter!        

con amor, Hermana Johnson
I Love General Conference - April 7, 2014
Dear Family,
Congrats to dad that things are going well with his whole new software program switchoff for work.  I imagine that would be extremely stressful.  Congrats to Hunter´s buddies that got their mission calls this week.  Congrats to Hunter on asking a girl to the prom.  ha ha ha ha I am so very shocked.  What could drive him to do something so not Hunterlike?! 

How do you like my backyard jungle?  Bananas anyone?
In other news... yes I got to see General Conference!  It´s the greatest thing ever as a missionary, but let´s talk about the sad truth that a total of 3 members came to the Saturday morning session.   For general conference, 3 wards meet in the same chapel to watch together so the other 2 companionships of elders came and it was us 6 missionaries with 3 members and one investigator.  How chasta.  (chasta = lame) very few are so faithful as to come Saturday  and I liked the Saturday morning session best of all because powerhouse Holland spoke and my personal favorite Eyring as well.  We watched in Spanish of course but unlike October General Conference, I understood everything no problem so that was great news.
Saturday afternoon about 10 or 12 people attended. Sunday morning the chapel was overflowing with people. We almost didn´t fit with the 3 wards together, and then again for Sunday afternoon only about 25 or 30 people were present. 

Lots of investigators came Sunday so that was good.  I always wondered about General Conference whether people would get bored because it may seem long for them, but our district leader told us the majority of people that attend conference get baptized so we went super out of the way to try to drag people to conference, making like 150 invitations or more, and passing out to everyone in the street and to all the members to invite friends, so we´ll hope that promise comes true in the upcoming weeks.
We had to stop visiting one of our investigators because he just does not want to live the word of wisdom.   I feel so horrible to stop visiting anyone.  I know he knows the gospel is true. He just is unwilling to live it.  Lots of people are willing to die for Christ, but few are willing to live for Him.   
Nothing super exciting happened this week, just Conference was pretty sweet to watch. I  loved hearing the Prophet and Elder  Packer and President  Uchtdorf as always and  Elder Nelson. Elder Hales was looking pretty darn frail though.  Fun fact, the translation for Richard G. Scott he recorded himself beforehand so it is his actual voice giving the talk when we hear it here in Honduras and other Spanish speaking nations.  I thought that was pretty neat. 

Lots of love!  Thanks for all your support.
Hermana Johnson

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Happy Spring - March 31, 2014
Thanks for keeping me posted on all the fun missionary news. I love hearing where all of Hunter's friends are going on their missions!!  I am so excited two will be going to Honduras!!  Even though they will not be in my mission, they will have an amazing experience!! 
This week the parents of a young man we are teaching said he can get baptized!!!! Whoooooooooo They just said they felt it was a little soon so asked that we wait until the end of April, and they would give their permission, so I  was like that´s fine with me.  Better to wait a month than to get a full on NO.  He is so golden.  I am so excited that his special day will finally come!   I´m going to be cocky for 5 seconds, when we went to ask his mom for permission we ended up having a pretty long conversation but in the end we won her trust and she was like, well now I know why my son talks about you so much Sister Johnson, you guys do a lot of good.   I was like totally beaming because I know this boy loves me very much because I got to be his missionary.  Someday he too will be a missionary and touch so many lives and even the rest of his family will someday come to the gospel.  I feel so lucky to have gotten to be a part of it.  It´s all the Lord and not me of course so that wasn´t really bragging.
Hermana Johnson with all the members of her zone
A fairly new investigator came to church for the first time on Sunday.  It was so beautiful, because when we first met her she was so sad and discouraged because she had no job and no boyfriend and just lives all by herself in her little apartment.  Every time we visited we prayed that she could find a job.  This week she did indeed find work and so on Friday when we went to visit her she told us she´d found work and that she knew it was from our prayers for her and that now she wanted to thank God for that great blessing by going to church on Sunday.  She tells us now with her new job she doesn´t have much free time to read her Book of Mormon at home, so without us even saying anything she tells us, I´m going to read that book you people gave me to give thanks to my Heavenly Father.  I´m going to take it with me every day on the bus to work to learn more because I know He has already blessed me so much.  And I was like, whoa that just blew me away.  And I´ll be honest we always ask people if there´s something they want us to pray for and with her it was always to find work.  When she told us she had found work, I had even forgotten that we had been praying for that until she herself mentioned it, and I felt so terrible. What little faith I had or how pathetic I was just to be going through the motions and yet she really believed from the prayers she would find work and in the moment that she did find work she wanted to give thanks to God.  Well now I´m off to repent for that massive error.  Even as missionaries, we pray so many times every day with so many people not every single prayer is pure and sincere and with faith and real intention.  But they definitely should be.  I am so imperfect it kills me sometimes . . .
Hermana Lopez with her new companion and Hermana Johnson with her new companion, Hermana Joaquin
It was hilarious to go to church with this hermana.   We are always so nervous when someone new comes for the first time of course.  The first hour went waaaaaay overtime.  Someone from the stake came to talk, and we didn´t get out until almost 10:30.  Our investigator was like, I thought you said each meeting only lasts an hour.  I was like normally yes idk what´s going on.  I was dying and as it finally ended she said, thank goodness that´s over!  I was like nooooooooooo.  We persuaded her to stay for the next class somehow and the theme was fasting and everyone was talking about fast offerings, and I think she was super confused but somehow she enjoyed the second class a lot.  When they announced general conference she asked us, "Am I allowed to go to that.  I´d like to see that.  We were so shocked because we had thought that it had been a really odd, long Sunday, but she said she wanted to come back so I´ll take it!
Hermanas Johnson and Joaquin with Hermana Dester, the mission president's wife
I love you all very much and I´m sorry for all my imperfections, but the hope is to live each day a little better than yesterday.  To become like Christ can´t happen overnight, but with faith and real intent to follow Him it can happen. Happy April! 
Hermana Johnson
Happy, Happy, Happy to Be a Missionary - March 24, 2014

This week was super great.   Hermana Lopez had transfers, but is very close by in Santa Cruz and remains in my same zone so if we have a zone activity on Pday I will see her, and I see her every Tuesday as all the zone gets together for district meetings, though she is not in my district I´ll still see her.   My new companion is quite fabulous, Hermana Joaquin from El Salvador.  She is 19 and has 4 months in the mission.  Once again only one sister missionary came to our mission from the MTC this transfer so absolutely no one from the sisters is training.  Elders are another story... 23 new elders came this change.   Everyone is getting trained right and left for elders.  Our mission is a little sketchy so there will never be lots of sisters here.  
In other news, this week was really great as today we had a zone activity and WE WENT TO THE CROCODILE FARM!!!!!! I have been dying to go since I started the mission.  It was so cool.  We got to hold little baby crocodiles and the elders fed horse meat to the big huge crocodiles.  That was really gross so I didn´t participate, but I have tons of awesome photos which I will send shortly... They actually have lions at the crocodile farm as well for some reason so those were really beautiful, and all the sketchy things you can´t do at an american zoo you can do in Honduras like touch the animals, feed them, pretty much whatever you like.  A little dangerous but it was so fun and I got to go with Hermanas Joaquin and Lopez and the whole zone.

Hermana Lopez and I having fun at the Crocodile Farm
They say you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, but what if you kiss a crocodile?
Notice the big space under the fence - the lions did too . . .
Other fun things that happened this week.... we built a Honduran stove... I suppose it was out of an adobe like substance and it was pretty much like playing with mud for an hour. The family was so happy for the help that they put a J on the back for Hermanas Joaquin and Johnson.  Next week we will go take our pictures with the finished product.
A couple I am teaching now loves the church so much.  They are so faithful.  They go to every activity, obey all the commandments, pay their tithing... wow they are spectacular.  Even though they aren´t baptized they even want to go on the ward temple trip in April just to be able to walk around the grounds and feel the spirit there.  Wow what a great family.  
I am really, really happy, and really, really stressed as I couldn´t even sleep yesterday.  I was just worrying about what to do about my investigators.  Pray that all goes well with them this week so they can be baptized and I can sleep again.  ha ha ha.  Here´s the thing about being a missionary... some people think that after you have so much time in the mission you can just answer whatever question or situation with ease and no stress but that is never the case.  Every investigator we teach is so individual. We learn more and make mistakes with each one.  
The messages that I find the most powerful to share with people who are struggling about their decisions of whether to be baptized, or if the gospel is really what they want in their lives, are first the end of Ether 12 when Moroni gives his testimony.  Moroni really was a prophet of God that talked with Jesus Christ face to face.  And he states it so beautifully and so clearly I just love it and nobody can deny it.  And then he goes on to say that even he, Moroni, had weaknesses as he says he was weak in writing.  I love this as even a prophet of God makes mistakes and has weaknesses and many people want to be perfect for their day of baptism and that can´t happen so as they read this they really feel the spirit and realize that perfection isn´t necessary, only a desire to seek God and be more like Him.  I also love to share President Uchtdorf´s message from the January Ensign about ¨the best moment to plant a tree¨.  He states that we often wait for the first day of the new year or when school starts or whatever to make new goals or try to change, but today is the best day to try to be better. We need not wait to be chosen, we are already chosen of God as His children. We chose to follow Him before this life and need to do so now as well.  Also I love when he says that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second best moment is right now.  And it is so true.  It doesn´t matter what we´ve done or who we were in the past.  We need not dwell on that, today is the best day to begin our new life as a disciple of Christ. I am so grateful for the Spirit in this work.  I would not be able to help anyone, not even myself, without it.  
I love, love, love missionary life.  I love, love, love my family, all the people that support me and all the people I am teaching, and I am happy, happy, happy to be here.  Thanks for all your love and support!

Hermana Johnson