Sunday, October 19, 2014

Happy Honduran Independence Day! - September 22, 2014

That´s so cool for all you people that got to be there for Hunter´s big night to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.  It sounds like it was pretty special.  If only I could be in two places at once.  Hermana Mejia and I are doing super great.  We have a wonderful investigator that is progressing incredibly.  Her name is Diana, and she was once a missionary for the Iglesia Evangelica for three years, but for a few personal matters she left.  She never stopped believing in Christ and studying the Bible and praying though she wasn´t attending, and got a job with someone who is a member of the church here in Puerto Cortes.  Her brother passed away around a month ago, and the members that she works with took her on a trip to the temple, and while there she felt like her brother was there with her and that everything was okay with him.  Her brother was never a religious person in this life, but she says now after knowing about the Plan of Salvation that she feels there are in fact angels teaching him, and she feels a great peace unlike ever before.  At church she´s like our third companion as she bothers the other investigators so they stay the whole three hours and go to all the activities, and asks them if they are reading their Book of Mormon.   Her baptismal date right now is set for Oct. 11, and we feel that General Conference will be the cherry on top of it all to help her testimony even more.  General Conference in the mission field is more epic than the Super Bowl or March Madness.  It is grander than the Olympics and it is going to be so, so wonderful. 
It´s actually pretty disappointing that it will be my last General Conference as a missionary, because as a missionary you just try to apply it to every single person you are visiting and the spirit is just especially strong, as others sitting at my side realize for the very first time that the men that are speaking really are prophets and apostles called of God and they cannot deny it.  You can always put your money on the prophet.  So we´ll be going super out of our way to drag people to church just two weeks from now.  

In other news.... Yes Satan is strong these days as the Hermana from the disappearing house is sick with Dengue fever, and so we haven´t been able to visit her again.  

Also this week we had some fun activities in our ward.  Since it was Independence Day this week in Honduras (15 of September), we had an activity celebrating the cultures and independence of all the countries of Central America with food and the typical clothing of each country.  The members actually got super into it and a ton of people came.  Each room in the building was decorated for a different country.... and some how we got roped into decorating.  On Sunday the Elders Quorum says to the elders, hey what organization do you belong to in the church? and they were like uhhhhh, the Elders Quorum we suppose, so they put them in charge of decorating a room for Costa Rica, and then they call us and say hermanas we don´t know how to decorate and begged us to help them and bought us smoothies so we agreed, and all day Friday we were busy decorating for Costa Rica.  But it was all worth it as we had a new investigator and her sister come to the activity with all their cute little kids. 
Celebrating the Cultures of Central America at our ward activity

Making papusas from El Salvador to celebrate the cultures of Central America
They have so many challenges in their lives it is amazing they can even function.  He husband died just a month ago from cancer, and her family is so poor after having to pay so many medical bills.  Her husband was not able to work, and they just make little pastries in their house and sell them to make a living.  Her sister that is living with her just gave birth to Siamese twins about 20 days ago.  They are attached at the chest and stomach (idk if you´ve heard about that in the world wide news).  The doctors right now are saying that they share a heart so that they are going to have to separate them and one is going to have to die.  Their poor mom has to go every single day all the way to San Pedro, two hours from here to nurse them, and that´s all she does all day every day.  Make pastries all morning, take the bus up to San Pedro to see her little girls without any idea of what´s going to happen next with them.  And yet, they stay surprisingly positive and are so hardworking and so very prepared to hear the gospel.  There is nothing that can bring more peace.  It is amazing to me how the gospel applies to everyone.  There is no one it can not help.  It is so flawless and helps us to learn how to be with our families and our Heavenly Parents for all eternity.  It shows us who we truly are, and what we can become if we endure this moment well.  

Thanks so much for all your love and support.  Start writing down those questions and personal matters so all is ready for this General Conference!  It is an opportunity not to be missed!  Love you all!
Hermana Johnson
Another Miracle in Honduras - September 15, 2014

It has been a good week.  I have a great companion.  My mom sent me an awesome Hello Kitty themed package.   Bad news... it is now snake and tick season apparently.  We already found two baby snakes and three ticks in our house.  AND IT WAS CLEAN!!!  We sweep and mop and go crazy cleaning every Monday to keep out all these crazy animals and somehow they still find their way into our house.  The neighbor lady is like "yeah that´s perfectly normal for this time of year.  Just sweep them all outside with a broom and kill them with this."  And then she proceeded to lend us her sledgehammer ha ha ha.  

Loving my Hello Kitty package to share with all the sister missionaries!
Good news from this week.  We had a super awesome miracle this week. Wednesday was Día del Niño here in Honduras, aka Child´s Day, which is similar in popularity to Halloween as all the little kids put on typical Honduran clothing.  Then there are parades and everyone gives the kids candy to celebrate.  That´s the closest comparison I can make.  Anyway, we were super nervous to go out to visit because we thought today´s going to be absolutely terrible because everyone is going to be out celebrating, and so we are just going to have to walk around all day because no one is going to want to let us in their house. 

I shared my package with our zone leaders too!  The elders aren't as excited about Hello Kitty, but you can never go wrong with chocolate.
Or so we were thinking...  Reaching around 5 or 6 in the afternoon, we hadn´t had a ton of success as everyone was out celebrating, so we felt we should start heading towards the home of an elderly lady in the ward who had an operation and hasn´t been able to go to church for a few weeks.  As we were walking towards her house we saw a house that has these big cement walls around the yard that have always called our attention because they have this super cool purple paint job in big waves that just looks so neat.  Let me tell you, I have previously tried to contact this house when I was with Hermana Luna and we went up front to the gate and had searched and searched for a house and there had been NO house.  Just the big purple walls and a little dog house and nothing more.  Like nothing was there.  We literally had searched as hard as possible and there was NOTHING there!  Just the dog house.  And after Hermana Mejia had come we had walked by on another occasion but again we saw no house and they have a pretty fierce guard dog out front that pretty much scared us off because we weren´t sure if the gate was closed. 

Well, Wednesday it was so weird because we felt we should just stop by, but this time it was so weird because there was CLEARLY A HOUSE OUT BACK.  What?!  I have passed by this road a thousand times and searched and never, ever seen a house before.  Idk how it is possible that we missed that but as we yelled out front the lady and her daughter came to answer the door and let us in super friendly and nice, and the lady told us she had been praying that very day at like 3 in the morning, that God would guide her to the true church because she´s had a desire to unite herself to a church now for a long time, but she wanted it to be the right one and had been praying very fervently for that very thing and that very day we arrived at her house.  A house we had never before been able to see with our human eyes!  IDK how Heavenly Father pulled that one but somehow He made that house invisible to us until the very moment that we needed to arrive.  Everything is in His own way and His own time.  
The woman's daughter then proceeded to tell us that her mom had had a dream about a new book that God wanted her to have, which obviously was the Book of Mormon. WHAT?! And then in the closing prayer the daughter, age 11, asked us to pray that she could become a missionary like us someday.  WHAT?!  Talk about one prepared family for this gospel.  God really has been preparing them, and sent us there in the precise moment that we were needed.  That experience really just blew my mind.  I am still wondering how it is possible that I couldn´t see the house until now.... but wow, we were pretty darn excited to encounter such a family.

Today for Pday we had a fun time as we just played games with everyone in our zone.  We have great elders in our ward that are just too funny.  We work with Elder Melendez from El Salvador and Elder Alonso from Nicaragua.  This week we also had a service project as a zone that was a little sketchy...   We went up to a farm, but just to get to the farm we had to walk half an hour in the jungle. We even had a small river crossing because the path had been filled up by the rain like 5 feet deep it seemed.  Somebody had set out rice bags earlier in the day so we just had to hop from rice bag to rice bag.  Hermana Mejia and I and the Elders from our ward were put in charge of cleaning out the house of the family so we took all the furniture outside so we could clean everything.  There was literally like 2 or 3 inches of pure dirt in all the rooms.  You couldn't even see the tile.  We even encountered a few tarantulas.  We spent 3 hours just in the front room and didn´t even make it to the 2 bedrooms before we had to leave.  Because we were only there from 8 to 12, and the first hour we spent moving cinderblocks and then helped the sister make tortillas for her little kids.

Hermana Mejia walking on rice bags to cross the river.
The lady has had to wait like two years already and still can't be a member of the church because she needs to get married, but a very common problem here is that people mess up dates and names and things all the time on birth certificates and identification cards and such.  Well this sister is 21 but according to the year on her birth certificate she is only 17, and can´t get married until she completes 18, so still she is going to have to wait a full year more.  To fix such errors is extremely expensive so no one does it.  This problem is so ridiculously common here it would shock you.  ay ay ay  We just have way too many adventures here in Honduras, but we´re loving every minute of it.  Lots of great stories for the future grandkids.

I love you all!  Thanks for all your love and support and for sending such a nice package to me and my comps.  Super excited for the next General Conference!  It´s going to be super sweet to see everyone speaking in their own language.   

Love you much,

Hermana Johnson

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Guess Who My New Companion Is? - September 8, 2014

Good news this week is that I have a new companion and guess who it is?  HERMANA MEJIA!! WHOOOO! One of my best buddies in the whole mission that lived with me in Potrerillos.  I was so happy because we are already good friends so the work is easy.  It doesn't feel like work at all now, just visiting with a friend and helping people.  We've already got the whole unity thing down.  We are of one mind and one spirit.   I never thought I would get so darn lucky.  I never imagined I'd get the chance to be her companion, but here we are and I'm loving it.  The funny story is now Hermana Gardner is with Hermana Luna, so we just did an old comp swap right there, and they are chillin out in Santa Rosa de Copan. Really they are chillin out because it is cold there.  Even better news, with rainy season, it's been cool all week here in Puerto Cortes as well.  Washing clothes has become a challenge, since we dry them outside and it's been raining every day, but we put up clotheslines inside the kitchen to have a "make it work moment".  
My fantastic zone before transfers!
Despite the fact that we had a flood, and the mission sent someone from pest control to all our houses, this week we still found cockroaches, a baby scorpion (those are actually pretty common here) and a gecko laid eggs in our house as well.  We could be a national park with all this wildlife.  

Today for Pday we had another beach day and ate lunch out at Beach Cineguita.  

We are currently teaching someone very special.  I can't remember if I've already spoken of her.... She is evangelica, and her brother passed away just two months ago.  She was very active in her church, leaving three days to preach every week for three and a half years like a half time missionary really. But one day in a church activity something bad happened to her and she stopped going.  She recently started working in a business that her boss is a member here, and he invited her to church and she has gone two times now and really likes it.  This big change is hard for her, but I know with time she will be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and will become a full time missionary to help others around the world.  She stopped going to her old church, but she always keeps her faith in Jesus Christ and the experience only strengthened the love she has for Him and her desire to follow Him always. 
Having a fun day at the beach
In other news, a story I really like that lots of people share around here in Honduras because they are all religious folk is about a man who went to get his haircut in the barbershop.  As this client was talking with the barber they started talking about religion and the barber says, no I don't really believe in God.  How is it possible that there is a God when there is so much evil in this world, with robbers and murderers and rapists?  So the client went ahead and paid the barber and went to the door to leave, and in front of the barbershop passed by a man who looked pretty scruffy, Duck Dynasty type, with a big beard and long hair like it hadn't been combed in months.  Well the client turns around to the barber and says, there's no such thing as barbers.  And the barber all confused says, how is that possible?  How can you say that when I just cut your hair for you?  Well the client says to him, well that is exactly how God feels about what you just said.  In the same way that that scruffy looking man didn't go looking for a barber, there are wicked men because they don't go looking for God.  Just because hairy, ungroomed men exist doesn't mean there are no such thing as barbers.  And just because there are murderers and thieves doesn't mean there isn't a God.  It just means there are a lot of people that don't seek out God in their lives, but if they did the world would be different... 

Tell Elise congrats on her driver license!!  Tell cousin Jason congrats on his new baby boy!  That's pretty darn exciting news.  

I love you and hope you are all well and happy!  

Thanks for all you do for me!

Hermana Johnson