Friday, November 21, 2014

Remembering Nana - October 13, 2014

I am so very sorry to hear about Nana passing away this past week.  I want you all to know how much I love you and that I pray for you every day.  Nana is free from all the physical and mental trials that have been afflicting her.  She is free to be with Papa and her parents and free to be in great peace.  And she is free because she chose to follow the great plan of happiness and endured to the end.  I am forever grateful for the great example of optimism she always had.  Nothing could get her down.  She was just always so happy and easygoing.  I remember when she started to have Alzheimer's, we were driving in the car and passed by one of her favorite restaurants, and she said "Hey that place looks really good, we should go try that out sometime."  I don´t remember who said it, but someone said, "Nana that´s one of your favorite restaurants, you don´t remember?"  and she was like, "Oh wow...." and she says to me, "This sickness isn´t really that bad.... everything is just so new and exciting each and every day now."  Nobody can put a hole in Nana´s boat.  She was just always so so positive and could make everyone smile.  

Nana hanging with some of her cute granddaughters
And thanks to Nana, our family is so very privileged to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   If it weren´t for Nana, I would not be here serving a mission in Honduras today.  And the dear sweet Diana that was baptized on Saturday perhaps wouldn´t have ever gotten to know the gospel in her life.  Diana is the only member of her family now that is a member of the church.  Diana here in Honduras, in English would be Diane just like Nana.  And she got to know the gospel very close to Nana´s age, and just like Nana she had problems with the Word of Wisdom, but just like Nana the very day the missionaries taught her the Word of Wisdom she started to live it because she knew it was true.  Nana´s legacy will continue changing lives for many generations to come, though she is not physically here.  

Diana´s baptism almost didn´t happen.  It was the most almost impossible situation I have faced in all my mission.  Friday night we went to fill up the baptismal font, and there was very little water coming out because this week there´s been a lot of rainstorms so the water gets dirty, and they shut it off.  And the bishop told us there´d been some troubles with the water system in the chapel so that workers would be coming Saturday in the morning to fix everything.  So Saturday at 8 in the morning, we  went with the elders to a member´s house to weed and mow her lawn... but lawn mowers don´t exist here in Honduras, so when I say mow the lawn, I mean get out your machete and start cutting down jungle weeds and plants to a sufficient level that people can get to their house.  And they do that about once a month.   It took a lot longer than we thought, so we didn´t arrive at the chapel again to see if there was water until 1:00.  We  thought we were going to finish by 10.  Once in the chapel, we discovered no one had come to fix anything, and there was absolutely no water, and the baptism was going to be at 5:30 that very day. 

We called the fire department to see if the firefighters could come fill it up, but they were busy putting out a fire, and said anytime we need water we have to ask at least 24 hours in advance.  So with 3 teenagers from the ward, we started going door to door to all the neighbors that live close to the chapel to see if they would let us use water from their pilas, and we would pay them in turn for all the water we used.  No one wanted to.  Finally at the sixth house the lady agreed and gave us her garden hose, which we put as close to the chapel as possible, and from there we started filling up buckets of water and walking them to the chapel to start filling it up.  After about 20 minutes of that we figured out the drain of the font was broken, and the water was escaping, so we had to go find a large rock to cover up the drain to start filling anew.  By then it was already like 2:30.  We continued filling up by buckets until the bishop brought us five giant garden hoses to reach from the lady´s house to the chapel, but it was very little water flow.  By 4 it had only reached half of the very first step of the font and the water shut off entirely because they started cleaning the water system because of the storms. 

The bishop didn´t want to do anything else and gave up and went home and said we will change the date, even though he has a pickup truck, and we asked him to go to his house and bring us water but he was unwilling to help.  Said he´d be too tired to go to church the next day.  Hermana Mejia told me she´d been feeling the impression to call Diana´s friend Grosvin who is a member from another city half hour away, but that she´d been ignoring it because how is it possible that he could help us.  He has no car, and lives far away, how is he going to be able to do anything about it?  But we decided to follow the spirit and call him up, and he was so concerned, at that very moment he was in a church activity and asked everyone in the whole chapel who had a pickup truck that could help us to fill barrels of water from member´s houses.  But no one had anything.  So he called up his dear friend who is a firefighter about the issue, and they had just finished putting out the fire they´d had, and even though they had plans to go clean up their department, as a favor to their dear buddy Grosvin, they came directly from the fire to the chapel to fill up the baptismal font and finished at 5:30 exactly.  And she was able to be baptized.  We have so many angels looking out for us each and every day, and with Nana that´s one powerhouse angel more that is helping to bring to pass the salvation of souls even here in Honduras.  

In moments of trials or hardships, we must think of Nana and not worry so darn much.  What needs to happen will happen, and if it is the Lord´s will it will come to pass in His time and His way, not ours.  Nana´s trust in Heavenly Father was very firm in this aspect.

Nana's favorite thing was being with her family.
I want to share with you what President Monson said in October conference of last year, "There will be times when you will walk a path strewn with thorns and marked by struggle.  There may be times when you feel detached, even isolated, from the giver of every good gift.  You worry that you walk alone.  Fear replaces faith.  When you find yourself in such circumstances, I plead with you to remember prayer."  I love the words of president Ezra Taft Benson concerning prayer: "All through my life the council to depend on prayer has been prized above almost any other advice I have received.  It has become an integral part of me; an anchor, a constant source of strength, and the basis of my knowledge of things divine... for God will speak peace to the soul.  That peace, that spirit of serenity, is life´s greatest blessing." 

The apostle Paul admonished: "Let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  

President Monson follows, "What a glorious promise.  Peace is that which we seek.  That for which we yearn.  We were not placed on this earth to walk alone.  What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us.  He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask.  Pray always and be believing for all things shall work together for your good." 

I love Nana very much and will always be grateful for her wonderful example and influence in my life and the lives of the members of my family.  The best way to remember her is to be where we feel she would want us to be, and to learn to grow a little closer with our Father in Heaven each and every day, as I know that´s what she would want for all of us.  I´m sorry I cannot be with you all right now together as a family to remember her, but I know she is here with me to lead and guide and protect me each day.  I know our families can be together forever without a doubt.  There is a perfect plan for each one of us, and may we remember that it is not called the plan of endurance, or the plan of trials, or the plan of hardship, but it is the plan of happiness and the plan of salvation that all the children of God may return to His presence someday.  

Hermana Johnson

Monday, November 17, 2014

General Conference Was Amazing! - October 6, 2014

I am somewhat offended that Dad in his letter took a few lines to explain to me exactly what the Heisman Trophy is.  I am perfectly aware of what the Heisman Trophy is!  I am not that oblivious to the world of sports, even after a year of being in Honduras, thank you very much.   Wasn´t General Conference the greatest thing that happened all week long?  I would say YES.  We had 9 investigators present.  Which for Puerto Cortes is a pretty big success.  One of our investigators, the aunt of the siamese twins that sadly just passed away, liked conference so much that afterwards she said, "It´s over already!  That was way too little.  I just feel so much peace after that."  She was there for the Sunday morning session and afterwards she ran home to send her daughter to conference as well, she was like "You´ve got to see this too!"  So we were pretty happy that all went well.  

Out proselyting in the STREET?! (Still rainy season . . .)
Sad news about our investigator from the disappearing house.... we went to visit her on Sunday after conference, around 5 but no one came to answer the door or anything so we just kept on walking to other places, but 10 minutes after she sends us a message that she could no longer receive us in her home because she was from a Christian background and wanted to continue in her old church as she felt our ideas were just too different. I am feeling frustrated.  It is obvious that she felt the spirit when we were in her home.  She prayed that God would send her to the true church, and that very day God sent us to her house and nobody else.... I´m not sure it could get more direct than that.  What happens is she´s got her sister that goes to another church that tells her all the silly Mormon rumors and this is usually what happens with so many we visit.  Also she´s living with someone she´s not married to and doesn´t want anyone telling her that marriage is ordained of God.  We go to the house and have an awesome visit and the spirit´s super strong and people are totally pumped to go to church and read the Book of Mormon, and then the very next day people from their old churches come to visit, that haven´t visited in YEARS.  We once knew a lady that hadn´t gone to her evangelical church in 5 years and in that time no one had come to visit or invite her to anything, and we arrive and they see us there and the very next day send someone to visit.   Then the lady the next time we go tells us, hey, my old church invited me to a party this weekend so I´m going to go back with them, thanks for visiting, but you guys just have to many rules.   what?!  A God that requires nothing of His children to return to His presence is a God that DOESN´T EXIST.  I´ve just gotten a little bit frustrated this week. 
And I feel so sad when people say," Hermanas I can´t accept your ideas because I come from a Christian background" What?! The name of the church is The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, and if you don´t think the Book of Mormon talks about Jesus Christ it´s because they´ve obviously never read it.  No one can read the Book of Mormon and say the Mormons are not Christians. We invite everyone to come and see for themselves. We invite them to church, to read the Book of Mormon and then to pray to our Father in Heaven if what they are reading is true.  I beg of everyone who really wants to know the truth if Joseph Smith was a prophet and if this really is Christ´s church on the earth today to ask our Heavenly Father.  

The following describes how to take a shower in the winter in Honduras:

Put on rain boots
Go out back to pila (outdoor sink-like basin)


Take Simba with you to protect against all evil!  Fill up large bucket with COLD water (there is no such thing as hot water here)!  Return to apartment and enjoy!
When we had interviews with President Dester 2 weeks ago, I asked him about this topic.  What should we do or say when we´ve really felt the spirit with people and they´ve read the Book of Mormon and even gone to church and then out of the blue someone tells them some rumor, and they tell us they never want to see us ever again?  Because really it´s an issue here.  The biggest challenge we are facing here in Puerto because there are so many churches.  A different one on every street corner.  President asked me what we´d been doing so far.... we told him we always invite people to keep on reading their Book of Mormon and praying for an answer and that they´re always invited to church when they feel the desire to go but then we never go back because they´ve told us not to.  Then President Dester surprised me because he was like," you know what, not with everyone, but with those whom you have really felt the spirit strongly, go back every once in a while just to see how they´re doing, and if they keep reading, and tell them how much you love them and that the church is still true, and always has been... and someday they will come."  Sure enough this week we went with a lady with whom passed a situation very similar, and we just stopped to give her a little invitation to conference, nothing more and she said she´s been studying her Book of Mormon lots still and that she really likes it... though she says she will keep going to her Catholic church... the Book of Mormon works miracles and will work while we´re away, and someday she too can come to a knowledge of the truth.  

The good news is Hermana Diana will be getting baptized this Saturday at 5·30 Whoooooo!!!!!! She loved conference as well.  She told us it just confirmed everything for her and that she couldn´t wait to get baptized.  And just this week when we went to teach about tithing, she told us that she had always paid tithing in her old church and that she felt such an emptiness and just so terrible without the ability to do it that she felt so blessed to have the opportunity to give 10% of all she has to the Lord and feel those blessings He has for her.  How cool is that when an investigator asks you if they can have the privilege of paying tithing?  WHAT?!  Very good way to end the week.  

Thanks so much for all your love and support!  Got a package from Mark and Susan´s family this week!  Thank you so, so very much.  Loved all the pictures Addi, Emma and Ashtyn drew for me. They are up on my wall in my apartment.  And the bracelets Addi made were super darling.  We gave them to lots of kids at conference and they loved it.  My comp and I chose one for ourselves as well because they are just too cool.  We had to have one too.  All the missionaries here in Puerto Cortes greatly appreciated the treats sent as well as some of our members.  I´ll send pics real soon.  Thanks so so so much!

Much love

Hermana Johnson    

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's Snake Season! - September 29, 2014

I loved the pictures you sent of  the "Highland 5" gang "Walking for the Cure" for Diabetes!  How cool is that?!  Count me in for next year!!  We have such a great and supportive ward family.

Walking for the Cure for diabetes with the Highland 5 and their supportive families and friends
This week was a bit more tiring than others for the missionaries of Puerto Cortes.  Hermana Mejia was getting pretty stressed out because we had walked around all day long yesterday and only one person had received us.  She got so tired she just sat down in the street and didn't want to keep walking.  That's very unlike her because she's super duper hardworking, but this week idk no one's been home. So I just told her we'd go to one more house and sure enough they recieved us and we got to give them a Book of Mormon and schedule another appointment.  There's always one more door to knock on, and if you endure to the end of the day Heavenly Father will always send you blessings.

Hermana Mejia and I have given up Coca Cola.  Let me tell you, people here give the missionaries so much soda pop, especially coca cola because we can't drink the water that I have become totally addicted.  If I don't drink soda even for one day I get a terrible headache and just don't have any energy.  It is awful.  So this week we went to visit our investigator who is totally addicted to coffee, so as we taught the word of wisdom she got pretty disappointed.  So  I felt the impression to give up Coca Cola myself, and Hermana Mejia hopped on board with that.  We told our investigator if she gave up coffee, we would give up Coca Cola, and we could support each other in that.  She totally got excited after that and is ready to give up coffee.  The Holy Ghost gives some ideas that seem so odd sometimes, but if we follow through with what He is telling us it always works out so darn well in the end.  Idk if the Holy Ghost wants me to give up Coca Cola for just right now or for my whole life.  I am undecided myself on the subject because I really love Coca Cola, but we shall see what happens.  For right now I will no longer be drinking it.  Look dad I'm one of those crazy Mormon people like you now that doesn't drink Coke. Ha ha ha.
Reserved parking sign for pregnant women - wanted to share it because it made me smile!
We got to go watch the Women's General Conference on Saturday night so that totally made our entire week.  It was spectacular! Highlights for me... obviously the cute Korean girls singing, Hermana Mejia and I were totally beaming.  Also Elder Uchtdorf's talk was amazing.  He really got pretty direct there, but that's just how I like it.  Now I know I have lots to change.  For those who weren't present, he talked about how our Father in Heaven doesn't care if you've got great hair and nice nails, if you've got tons of friends on Facebook, or followers on Twitter.  He said "Cease with your self centered priorities and unworthy desires.  There are far more important things.  Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and recognize who you really are as a daughter of God and stop being so darn worldly and judgemental."  It was pretty powerful.  I want the Ensign of General Conference to come already so I can read it over and over again because I  just love it when Elder Uchtdorf talks.  Also super pumped for the Prophet of course, and Elder Holland as always, and for my hero, Henry B. Eyring.  I could listen to Elder Eyring all day.  He's just too cool.  

Hermanas Mejia, Johnson and Gardner at the mission president's home for a special Sisters Conference
Snake season continues this week in Puerto Cortes, as the large reptiles spotted in the street this week was up to 6.  

Also we are visiting a less active who is very sick with cancer.  She feels so terrified and uncertain so we invited the elders to give her a blessing.  The spirit was so strong as Elder Alonso before the blessing talked about the power of the atonement and how his own mom had had cancer 5 years ago and just put her trust in Heavenly Father and told Him His will be done and not hers.  She ended up living.  We all felt very impressed that she would survive her disease, but that she as well needed to be obedient to the laws of God and faithful in all her doctor's appointments and treatments and such. 

As Elder Melendez gave the blessing he promised she would live as long as she did her part as well to follow Heavenly Father and His commandments.  And yet as we passed by for her, she didn't want to come to church on Sunday.  She doesn't want to go to her doctor's appointments, and she has made up in her head that she is going to die as the same cancer killed her sister 3 years earlier.  I felt so frustrated with her because there are so many people that fight for their lives and have lost against cancer.  But she just wants to give up.  Heavenly Father has His perfect plan that we don't know.  He knows when we are needed here and when it is our time to go, and what a blessing she was given to know that she was going to be allowed to live, to see her children grow up, to have the strength once more to run, to grow out her hair anew.  The Lord Himself was present in that room when that priesthood blessing was given, and she was promised all those blessings.... in accordance to obedience and diligence to her doctors, and above all to her God. 

All I can think of when I think of her is the scripture that says,"And I the Lord God am bound when you do what I say, but when you do not what I say, ye have no promise."   It reminds me of the talk Uchtdorf gave when he said, that we are constantly receiving blessings from our Heavenly Father, as rain that comes falling from the heavens.  Our own doubts and fears are what put up the umbrella that block us from receiving those blessings  He so generously is pouring upon us.  Let us not forgot the promises our Father in Heaven has made that we may not fall into the fear and darkness where Satan constantly invites.  When the Lord speaks to us, may we actually be found listening, and then acting according to what He has to say.  We shall visit one more time this week to invite her to conference, as she does have many afflictions.  Her burdens are not few, but she can choose to carry them all alone or have the Savior carry every last one for her, and as of right now she is choosing the earlier and it is overwhelming her quickly.  

Enjoy conference this week.  I testify that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet called of God, as well as the 12 apostles, and I know the messages they will share are coming directly from our Heavenly Father.  May we give heed to what he is going to say and realize how very blessed we are to have a living prophet today that leads and guides us, who communicates directly with our Savior that we may have all the blessings our Heavenly Father wants us to have.

I love you always!

Hermana Johnson