Monday, September 29, 2014

We Had a Little Flood But It's All Good - September 1, 2014

This week had a lot of ups and a lot of downs.   Just yesterday for instance... the water went out around 8 am before we headed off for church.  Hermana Luna opened the faucet to check if there was water, and there wasn't, but then she accidentally forgot to turn the faucet off again.  And so it just so happened that while we were at church yesterday the water came back on and our entire house got flooded!  Normally after church we go eat lunch with a member and head out to visit, but we forgot a notebook so we had to run back after lunch. Thank heavens we forgot that notebook because if not it would've been a lot worse.  The whole house had about four or five inches of water. Darn!!
 
Hermana Luna and I at the beach on P-day.
 Unfortunately, the night before our hermana training leaders came and stayed the night.  There are two beds, but for some reason we have three mattresses.  We put the three mattresses on the floor in one giant bed for the four of us, and we left the mattresses on the floor planning to put them back in place Sunday night.  Unfortunately the flood got the mattresses.  Boooooo.   We left them out with the fan so they are dry now.  Since I live out of my suitcases, which are always on the ground, I had to wash EVERYTHING I OWN this morning so it wouldn't smell terrible.  That was a lot of work since we wash everything by hand as there are no washing machines or dyers.  The flood ruined every single card and letter I have ever received in my entire mission.  That was the only thing that really was a bummer. All my notes from companions, that my family gave me when I headed out, even some photos and  the copy of my patriarchal blessing were in a nice stack in one of my suitcases that I wanted to save forever, but they all got ruined.... the ink all ran together and nothing was even legible enough to be saved. Some of the ink ran and stained some clothes as well.  Sometimes things just get so hard and ridiculous you just have to laugh.

The cute lady that did our corn rows.  We are lookin' good!
But you know what?  As I was wading through the water, trying to sweep it out through the front door, I made a decision to not freak out and to not make my comp feel bad for leaving the water on.  I really felt the Spirit guiding me to just be calm and get to work cleaning.  If yelling won't make things better and can't fix what's been done, there's no point in doing it.  Even though I will honestly admit I wanted to yell at her for being irresponsible or forgetful or whatever, I really just tried to take a step back and think will that make things better?  No obviously.  We were both a bit bummed at some of our things getting ruined, but you know Heavenly Father really sent angels out for me yesterday to persuade me to think first and to not be bummed out.  In spite of the fact that some really special things had been ruined, I really didn't feel that bad.  I didn't feel the weight of the things that got lost or ruined.  It just really came clear to me like never before that people are more important than things.  And saving my companionship and the relationship I have with Hermana Luna is far more important than an object, though it may be something special or sentimental.  My Heavenly Father will have all those cards fresh and perfect without a single stain awaiting me in the Celestial Kingdom if I keep my priorities straight and follow Him and no one else.  

I know yesterday could've been a day that could've saved or ruined my relationship with my companion forever.  Even though chances are we will be transferred this week, and I will probably never see her again in my entire life, except for maybe once in a while on Facebook since we are from different parts of the globe.  The most important thing is to always take care of Heavenly Father's children.  Hermana Luna has had enough bad thoughts about herself from her own head, she doesn't need it from me.  People are always more important than things.  And now all is dry and clean again and it feels like nothing happened.  We just took a few hours to sweep out all the water and put things in front of our fans yesterday, and now all is well.  The Holy Ghost is real and saved my friendship with my comp and taught me that it is not always necessary to be right.  You can be right and vengeful and angry, or you can be happy. You can face your trials alone, or you can face them with the Spirit and angels to uplift you.  Stay calm.  Any object, no matter its importance cannot go with you after this life, but the souls you encounter will exist forever and will remember you, and will remind you of how you treated them in this probational time be it for the best or for the worst.  

In other news... Elder Alonso of the Seventy came to visit us this week, so that was cool.  I always love going to zone conferences or when leaders come to visit, because it's always so special with all the missionaries.  It's the only chance I've got perhaps in my life to have those special opportunities. We'll see what else Heavenly Father has in store for me.  

I love you all very much and hope you are all doing great.  I thank you for your examples and your love and kindness towards me always.  Tell Hunter good luck with his roommates, and tell Molly good luck with Driver's Ed.  I hope everything goes awesome.   

Lots of love
Hermana Johnson

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Work is Going Great! - August 25, 2014

Dad sounds very sad in his letter with all his kids leaving home... But don´t worry because we´ll always come to visit!  My family is the most important thing in the whole wide world.  Don´t worry so much.  The only thing that would be worse than us running off would be us sticking around doing nothing!  It´s just that now we´ve got to go start learning some new things on our own; always remembering the good things mom and dad have always taught us to guide us on our way.

I would now like to take the time to wish mom a very happy birthday this week.  She´s always been a lady worth celebrating.  She´s always so very thoughtful of others, and forgets herself just a bit too often, so go do something special together!  I love you so very much mom.  Thanks for always listening and supporting me.
 
Baking cupcakes with one of my favorite families!  I know it's a little late for Easter, but ovens are hard to come by here.
I hope Hunter likes all his roommates.  Sometimes getting to know new people can be difficult. I can relate... ha ha ha JK, but perhaps there will be those that he can really love.  Like my room roommate Mary and I seemed like a weird combo, but we ended up super buddies as we both love reality TV, the arts, making cupcakes together, and have a great appreciation for all things Asian.  Couldn´t get any better than that right?  There´s always something to be learned from everyone you meet.  So Hunter just put your best foot forward, you´re just a super nice, super handsome, super smart young man and everyone will want to be your friend so just be happy and keep calm and carry on.  Whatever bad issue that may arise I´m always here to support you.  Look, I´m here in Honduras with companions from the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Bolivia... and if I can do it, and I´m super ornery and like to be right all the time, well you surely can do a far better job.  

This week we had four investigators go to church. That´s few for other places in the world but here that´s really super good.  

In other news, I hope you could all see the photo of Javier and Cesar that I sent. If you remember they are awesome, amazing young men we taught and baptized from our old area. They went to the temple this past week!  whoooooooooooooooooooo!  Hermana Mejia's mother is from Tegucigalpa where the temple is and just happened to be at the temple the very same day they were and miraculously recognized them from the pics Hermana Mejia sent home and went and took their pic and sent it to us.  How cool is that?!

Javier (far left), another member and Cesar at the Tegucigalpa Honduras Temple
Also,  transfers will be coming up next week, so we´ll see who will be heading off.  They will let us know next Monday.   I really loved the quote mom sent because it´s the best advice I could have right now.  That we should try to help everyone, but if we can´t help them that at least we shouldn´t hurt them.  Sometimes all somebody needs is someone to sit by their side and listen to them, no matter how silly their problem might seem to us.  If to them it is a big deal, well perhaps we can just stick around for a moment to listen as to the Why it´s such a big deal.  If we can´t do anything for them, why must it be our first instinct to contend or say they´re crazy or that things don´t make sense.  Being patient is one of the most Christlike attributes out there and one of the hardest to obtain.   But things are going well.  I know I am where I am to help and to learn new things myself  from others.

I love you all and thank you for all your love and support.  I hope you all have a great week! 

Hermana Johnson     

Monday, September 15, 2014

One Year in the Mission Field! - August 18, 2014
 
Yes I did get your 4th of July cards and old summer pics.  They were so beautiful and darling, I just loved it.  Sorry I forgot to mention they had come.   Everything is going well, thanks so much for always writing. I got a sweet card from Miss Molly this week and grandma as well, and Uncle Dave's package came with an entire year's worth of allergy meds included.  Wahoooo!
  
Congrats to Hunter going off to college!  I loved seeing all your first day of school pics.  He looks so handsome.    Tell the college girls to stay far, far away from our future missionary.  Yes... never have girls in the bedroom, and never have girls over later than 10 at night is what I say.  I'm so glad he was able to get his Patriarchal Blessing.  That sounds so nice. 
 
Meet the Johns, our wonderful senior missionaries who recently went home.  They were the ones who had the happy job of delivering our packages on Tuesdays.
Things are going well here in Honduras.  We have two investigators that went to church the very first time two Sundays ago.  They really liked it and all was well, but then when we went to visit on Tuesday, their mom said she didn't want them going to church with us because they had already been baptized in the Catholic church, and she did not want them attending anywhere else.   So we were pretty sad.  We'd been praying all week  that their mom would have a change of  heart.  We passed by on Friday to ask again and she said no, and we were like well there's probably no way they will go this Sunday, so let's just go with some members to visit next week so they can go the following Sunday.  We just thought it was going to be pretty impossible to change her mind because she was pretty firm.

After the Johns went home, things got a little behind in the mail room.  Happy mail day for the four sister missionaries living in our apartment!
On Saturday we were out visiting with a member and she was showing us where a less active member was living.  Well, on the way to visit the less active sister, we just happened to pass by the house of our two investigators, and the mom just happened to be out in the front yard.  Well, to our surprise the member with us runs up to their mom, and we found out that they are actually good buddies.  What?!  Well, the member we were doing visits with is pretty bold, so she was like, "So when are you going to go to church with me?"  The mom said, "Well you know I go to another church and that is where I'm going to stay."  The hermana who was with us asks, "Well would you at least let your daughters go with me this Sunday to get to know the church a little more?"  The mom said, "Well I  suppose that's alright.  Sure I'll give my permission, because if people like you go to that church, it can't be so bad."  And we were like WHATTTTT?!  That was way to easy Heavenly Father, but thanks so much!  We were totally lacking in faith, but God provided the means for the miracle to happen and sure enough, both girls were at church  Sunday, and all the messages were so perfectly directed at them it couldn't have been better.  We were so excited.  God really prepares a way for everyone to return to Him, always in His own time and in His own way.
 
So you know, Hermana Gardner is out of the hospital and back working hard as a missionary.  So happy our prayers were answered, and she is doing better. 

Thanks for all your love!  Thanks for helping me celebrate my one year anniversary of being a missionary!

Hermana Johnson

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hermana Johnson - A Vampire?! - August 11, 2014

That is so awesome that Hunter went to a district meeting and then went out and about with the full-time missionaries in Mesa for a bit.  Even though I am a missionary and know how things go, I still get excited when I see other missionaries, like oh my gosh,  there goes a missionary!  Even though I have almost a full year of being one!  They are my fellow teammates after all, and I feel a great bond with them!  I´m glad things went well on your Arizona vacation.  Loved seeing all the pictures!  Sorry we got here so late again... I convinced Hermana Luna to get the Victoria Beckham bob haircut.... well, the hairdresser  just could not cut the v shape  and it just got shorter and shorter and Hermana Luna started getting worried because it was a pretty terrible looking haircut.... but in the end we gave up on Victoria Beckham and just did a nice round bob and it turned out great, but that took up an extra hour of our p-day ha ha ha.  But all is well here in Honduras. 

Hermana Luna's cute new haircut!
The past two Sundays have been rough as we haven´t had any investigators at all in church.  ZERO which is just shameful here in Central America, so we really prayed and worked hard and this past Sunday three new investigators came to church for the very first time!  Whoooooooooo!  Heavenly Father really blessed us, and this area really is starting to grow. 

Hermana Luna and I in a bit of a tight spot! JK - We're still at the fortress at Omoa.
In other news... tell Hunter to go watch those missionary videos.  The series is called "The District." Watch "The District 2," because the missionaries,  Elder Moreno and Elder Christensen, are the coolest.  My favorite thing from those videos is when Elder Moreno has his video journal at night, and he´s sitting there in his pajamas just looking exhausted and he says, "I don´t know why I´m so happy...... cuz I´m just so tired ALL the time."  That´s a pretty good sentence to sum up missionary life.  It almost amazes you how you can feel so much peace and be so happy, because really you are just tired, tired, tired all the time.  But Heavenly Father helps us forget that and gives us the strength to keep on preaching all the day through.  I love to watch those videos over and over again, so you people can watch them and just think of me.

My very beautiful new pants!  Expensive by Honduran standards - $12 U.S.- But I wanted them SO very much!
Also, funny story.... a lady stopped us one day in the street and tells us, "You are not living in reality."  And we were like "What?"  And she´s like, "You are living in great sin, God is not pleased with you."  And then proceeded to accuse me of being a vampire because I am white.  ha ha ha.  She even told me to go to a certain pharmacy and buy pills and everything.  She really believed I was a vampire?!

Well that´s it for this week.  I love you all. Even though you might all be considered as vampires in this part of the world.  

Hermana Johnson
So Blessed to Be in the Right Place at the Right Time! - August 4, 2014
 
Congrats to Miss Molly!  That´s so wonderful to hear she made the dance team! That´s why you should never ever give up, because you never know what you might be missing if you don´t take chances.  I am very sorry to hear that Juicy Couture will be coming to an end.  You´ll just have to go pick a new favorite brand I´m sorry to say...  I´ll let you know if I spot juicy knockoffs here in Honduras, so far no luck. 

Greetings Hermana Johnson from your family in Arizona
I´m a little jealous that I can´t be hanging out with the fam down in Arizona, but we can always go again next year.  I hope everyone is doing fabulous.  Things are going wonderful here in Puerto Cortes this week so I wouldn´t trade it for anything.  We really have been guided by the spirit this week.  You know, even if we have plans to do other things, Heavenly Father always makes it possible for us to arrive where He wants us to be in miraculous ways.  Every single Monday we visit Hermana Kimberly in her house at 6 because Monday is her only free day from work.  She´s always so happy to see us and sits just waiting for us to arrive, so when we went last Monday, we just expected her to be there of course, but for some strange reason she just wasn´t there.  And we thought how weird, she´s always there without fail, what could´ve happened?  Well, we felt the spirit strongly in that moment that we were needed in the house of a member, that we hadn´t actually planned for.   She´s been having a difficult time lately as her sister that lives in Mexico has been severely ill.  Well, we just went to share that small message on Monday and later we found out that Tuesday just one day after we had visited, her sister that was sick had passed away.  And Heavenly Father knowing that that was about to pass, sent us to her home today to help her out. 

That impacted her greatly as this past week we went to see how things were going, and she was just ridiculously strong despite those difficult circumstances and told how she shared the gospel and plan of salvation with her own mom that is not a member and was able to bring great comfort to her whole family.  She will now be caring for her sister´s three children who she left behind and is completely firm in her knowledge of Heavenly Father´s perfect plan for us and has no doubt that she will see her sister again.  She will respect her sister´s wish to care for her three children within this perfect gospel God has for us. 
 
On Wednesday we were quite distressed as not a single person was able to visit with us so our agenda was almost completely empty.  That´s the worst.  We had a feeling we should run by our recent convert´s  house to deliver the photos from her baptism and her sons' baptisms.  We had finally had time to go print photos on Monday so the spirit reminded us we needed to run those by on Wednesday.  Since it is the Holy Ghost that brings all things to our memory in the very moment we need it.  Well, we ran over to one sister's house only planning to drop by the photos and be on our way, but as we left them there we talked with her daughter and found out her mother was in pretty horrible shape.  She has diabetes but refuses to go to a doctor, and this day her sugar was terribly low so she was just in bad shape and her house and work were a mess, and so we spent all day long cleaning up the kitchen, the stove, the dishes, everything and then helped her add up the receipts and do the paperwork of her business as she has her own business selling jewelry.  She had been praying that someone would stop by her house to help her, and Heavenly Father had made it possible for us to do so as He left our agenda completely empty to have the power to spend the day with her and reminded us to take her those photos so we would be there in the precise moment she needed us.  It was quite spectacular.  Everything works out so perfectly in missionary life so that we end up where we are needed in the precise moment we need to be there, whether we are planning for it or not.          

Another thing... I feel like before I headed out on the mission in terms of basic gospel doctrine I was a complete idiot.  I thought I knew a few things but really...I hardly knew anything.  I have learned so very much.  I know the Bible and the Book of Mormon so much better.  I enjoy reading things like Jesus the Christ and Gospel Principles.  How ridiculous is that?  I actually look forward to those things.  I actually do not like when study time ends because I will have to wait an entire 24 hours more to be able to pick up the scriptures once more.  That´s not to say I know everything, there´s still a huge amount of things I´m lacking.  My ignorance far outweighs my knowledge. 

In a recent zone conference, we discussed that Joseph Smith was not the first or only prophet that restored the gospel.  There were several.  From the beginning, prophets who had to restore the gospel were Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Lehi, Jesus Christ, and Joseph Smith.  I have been studying each one of their lives to know what things were restored and lost in each of those dispensations.  We must be experts on the basic doctrine of the gospel to have the power to explain it in a more simplified, clear manner to those who are learning it for the first time.  I´ve been learning a ton.  Like how the Higher Melchizedek priesthood was taken from the earth after Moses for the disobedience of the people, and was not restored until the times of Jesus Christ, whereas the lesser Aaronic priesthood was still available to the children of men at that time.  And how in the times of Abraham, God has always wanted the ordination of the priesthood to be from father to son, but Abraham´s own father, Terah (I believe that´s how it is in English, correct me if that´s false) was off worshipping idols, the gods of the Egyptians, and so Abraham received the priesthood power from the high priest Melchizedek.  Abraham´s own father was so off track in his worship of idols that he tried to sacrifice his own son to those idols, but that just goes to show that no matter how crazy our own family may be, everything can work out in the end.  

God can prepare and call whomever He chooses to bring forth His work, as He did with Abraham, one of the most faithful righteous spirits that existed before the world was.  And one of the greatest examples of obedience this world has known.  

Our zone visiting the castle at Omoa.  Several parts of the castle were built from fossilized coral - Super Cool!

Omoa is a fortress built by the Spaniards in Honduras that was later taken over by pirates on several occasions.
Things are good here in Honduras.  We went to the beach in Omoa today for lunch and to the fortress there as a zone activity.  It was weird being there again after having gone some 9 months ago when I was serving in Campana.  We had a talent show in our ward on Friday... unfortunately we have huge problems with punctuality in this ward as it was meant to start at 6... and they didn´t get things going until 8!  We only got to see two acts and had to run home to be back at our designated hour.  booooooo especially since  Hermana Luna  and I spent two hours that day decorating to make it all beautiful for the talent show, and then we didn´t get to actually see the show.  Hermana Luna was so sad she started to cry.  I´m just happy we finally had an activity at last.

Also fun facts...  Hermana Mejia sent me news from my old area of Potrerillos, and said that one of our old investigators has finally decided to give up alcohol and will be baptized this Saturday.  Wow!  And Javier gave his testimony in a baptism that he knew the church was true with his whole heart.  Mauricio and Javier have received the priesthood and are passing the sacrament, and Anyely from Campana went to the temple for the first time to do baptisms this past month and is dating a returned missionary from the ward and still her mom makes lunch every Sunday for the missionaries.  I am so happy!!!!!!!! Such wonderful news.  Also, in case I didn´t tell you, another investigator's mom gave him permission to be baptized at last, last month.  Lots of miracles taking place.  I am so happy they are still progressing so much!

I love you all so very much, and hope this finds you happy and healthy and loving life and family.  Learn the scriptures and love them and new things can be revealed to us each and every day. 

Love Hermana Johnson

Monday, September 1, 2014

Gaining My Own Testimony - July 28, 2014
 
Sorry I can´t be there to help Hunter out to prepare for college... but yes you should probably get started on that long list of things he still is lacking for school. Glad to hear you had a good time with cousin Broc.  There is definitely no dull moment when he's around.  
I´m still chilling out here in Puerto Cortes with Hermana Luna.  Today I took out money to start buying you people cool things from Honduras, so please send requests. 

Things suddenly started going very downhill this week, idk why. Our investigators  suddenly started fighting and decided they don´t want to be together anymore.  Our other investigator that was so incredibly smart and really looking for the truth in his life, even to the point that he said he´d like to become a missionary one day, decided life would be easier if he stuck with his old church where his family goes.  Our investigator who has always had to work on Sundays but at last had this past Sunday off, decided at the very last minute to not go.  And so we had exactly ZERO investigators at church on Sunday.  This is something that is just shameful if you are a missionary here in Central America.... Also we found out a recent convert has been meeting with a witch in Guatemala these past few weeks, as apparently she comes from a family that practices witchcraft.  WHAT?!  Idk why things suddenly started going so very down south all at once, but I guess that just means we´ve got to work a little bit harder.  Things just get a little bit stressful sometimes.
I know more than ever that this gospel is true and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church in existence.  Whenever I feel disconnected from the spiritual side of things or feel like God´s not listening to my prayers, I just have to think how is it that I received my testimony that these things are true.  Even those of us who have been members our whole lives must search for our own answers from our Heavenly Father.  It was clear to me this week as Saturday in the morning we left with a young member who has always been a member of the church her whole life.  In a lesson we asked her to share how the Book of Mormon had helped her in her life, and she didn´t even speak.  We thought she was just nervous because it was her first time visiting, but she revealed to us that she had never actually read the Book of Mormon and really didn´t know if it was true or not and just was feeling really bad about herself.... In contrast that same day in the afternoon we left to visit with a girl who is 17 and was baptized just a month ago, but shared openly all her feelings about the gospel, about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon as she really knows in her heart that those things are true and thus has a desire to share it with everyone.  All of us must seek our own testimony and knowledge of how to grow closer to our Savior Jesus Christ.

When I was 17 I went to a summer school program at Stanford University and met people from all over the world from all backgrounds and religions.  And while many respected my religious beliefs, others questioned and ridiculed them and got me to think, "Why is it that I live the way I live?"  I felt like right then, as soon in my life I´d be running off to college and all the big decisions in life were coming my way, that I needed to decide if I really wanted to stay in the church where my parents raised me, or go in a new direction.  I always knew in my heart since I was a little girl that there was a God, so I just told my Heavenly Father in that moment that I was willing to go in whatever path He wanted to take me, if He would just reveal to me what that was.  I was willing to be Baptist, Evangelist, Jehovah´s Witness, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, whatever, I just wanted to know what it is that God really wanted of me.  And like everyone knows, if you want to know if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church, you´ve got to read the Book of Mormon.
Summer 2011 at Stanford

 
So every single night after all my classes and homework, I would go sit in my bed in my dorm and read the Book of Mormon,  and I would pray to God to let me know if the Book of Mormon was really true and if this was really His church or not. 
After just two weeks of praying and reading every night to really know if those things were true, I was sitting alone in my dorm reading the Book of Mormon and just had the most peaceful feeling.  I felt as if angels were in my room with me.  It was so strong the peace I felt I knew it did not come from myself, but from God and I knew that the Book of Mormon really is true and that His church was where God wanted me to stay. 
God answers our prayers.  He will lead and guide us, but only when we are willing to do as He tells us. 
 
If the Book of Mormon really is true, that means Joseph Smith was a Prophet who saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church as Christ sent three of His original apostles to give Joseph Smith the same priesthood power Jesus Christ used Himself in ancient times to baptize, heal the sick, and raise the dead.  This is a divine authority that comes directly from God and only one church can have it.  Straight is the way and narrow the gate that leads to Salvation... not all the churches can be right as suddenly that pathway grows pretty darn wide quickly. 
As a representative of Jesus Christ, I testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet, just as Moses, Abraham, Noah, and Enoch.  Our Heavenly Father still leads and guides us today through His servant Thomas S. Monson.   I know it because the angels of God have witnessed it to me and no one can tell me otherwise. 
If God has answered our prayers, we must follow through with the answer.  Those answers don´t magically change with the changing of the times.  If it was right when you received your answer, well it is still right. 
Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith as President Uchtdorf says.  And don´t be a blind saint.  Seek and the answers of heaven can be opened unto you. 

I love you and thank you for all the love and hope you bring to my life!  Keep calm and preach the gospel wherever you may be found.
Hermana Johnson