Sunday, December 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! - November 24, 2014

Thanks so much to Uncle Dave and all the elders of Gilbert, Arizona for sending their ties down here to Honduras for Christmas.  It´s going to be awesome! White shirts are very hard to find here and ties are even harder! They will be much appreciated!!  The ties mom sent just got here this past week.  Thanks so much for the package.  
How cool is this?!  Missionaries from Arizona Gilbert Mission collecting ties to send to Honduras.
We had a pretty great Thanksgiving celebration for lunch today.  Everyone got pretty darn excited.  The elders decorated the table with the decorations that mom sent us while we ran off to make instant mashed potatoes and buy some fried chicken.  It was a wonderful way to spend the holiday.  Elder Giron is taking all the paper decorations home with him on Thursday to go celebrate anew with his family in Mexico as his mission is completed this next week, and he goes home  (He is from Guatemala, just that his dad is living in Mexico now).
Hermana Mejia and Elders Giron and Alonso getting ready for our Thanksgiving feast at the church
Giving thanks!
Big news with transfers coming up this week.  No I still do not know where I´ll be going, but it is likely I will leave since I have 6 months here already.  President Dester will be opening up an area of Honduras that has never before had missionaries ever!  The area of Lempira.  (It would be the equivalent of opening a new state for preaching in the US, so it´s a pretty big deal)  Missionaries have never stepped foot there before... but get this, it is even farther away than Copan!  It would be like a 6 to 8 hour bus ride from San Pedro to head out there.  Of the five new areas, hermanas will be assigned to one, so it´s actually possible that they could send me there and that´s pretty scary but exciting as well to be the very first missionaries to start the work there.  We shall see what happens.  

Also the big news is that now the transfers will be done in a completely new way.  Before they always had a big meeting in San Pedro where everyone that had changes went and president announced the transfers in front of everyone.  Love that!  Now it will be very different.  There will no longer be a big meeting.  On  Monday they will call us and tell us right then and there where we will go and with whom we will be going, and then it is our job to try to call and find that person and meet up together to go to our new area.  Everyone is pretty much completely on their own.  I feel like this is a little scary.  Life is way easier with just a big meeting with everyone to announce what is happening, and everyone is supervised, and the leaders are there to help out.  Now it is every man for himself.  Needless to say I am a little nervous about the whole thing... let you know how it goes.

Elise was looking very beautiful for her dance pictures.  Most of all, I am just so proud she went modest.  Her dress was so pretty.  I am sure it is much more good looking in person.  Her date was so sweet to get the awesome flowers that were a wrist corsage but a real bracelet as well.  So nice!  
I cannot believe I only have two transfers left?!  The time has gone by so quickly I cannot believe I am getting so close to the end!
I love you all!  Thanks so much for all your love and support!  Have an awesome week!  
Hermana Johnson
All I Want for Christmas - November 10, 2014

Everyone´s been asking what I want for Christmas this year.  Well I don´t really have great need of anything because I don´t really have that much time left.  But it would be wonderful if you could send things like ties and white shirts for boys and skirts for girls for the members and investigators we have.  That would be the very greatest Christmas present of all for everyone.  Little toys (cars, Barbies, or beanie babies) would also be wonderful.  It doesn´t matter if they are used or new, just anything you think would make a little kid´s day.  Just to make this Christmas special for them.

My favorite bakery in all of Honduras!  Enjoying my favorite cinnamon cookies and mango smoothie.  Yum!!
Congrats to Elise for getting her young women´s medallion!  Whooooooo!  And for getting a cute date for preference!  When is preference?  Be sure to send lots of pictures in her cute dress, of her date and everything.  I wish I could be there to go help pick it out!  Well, there´s always next year!

This week I heard the most darling story from our stake patriarch. We are very lucky to have the patriarch here in our ward.  He said when he was receiving the missionary lessons, the elders taught his family the law of chastity.  So he went right ahead and asked his wife to marry him.  Well the Honduran people just don´t like to get hitched for some reason.  It is extremely rare to find a legally married couple.  You can go find an old grandpa on the street that has been with the mother of his children 60 years, but if you speak of marriage, he´ll say, "No no no, I feel I just need to get to know her a little bit more before making such a big commitment."  Anyway, the patriarch´s wife said no, and so he begged her and begged her every day for eight months to marry him to be able to live the commandments of God and have their family be baptized as members of the true church.  After eight months she still said no. So he packed up his bags, and said to his wife, "My dear, I love my children, I love my Heavenly Father, and I love you, and for that very reason, today I´m leaving you."  And he walked out with all his things to live in a nearby neighborhood, still supporting his family financially of course.  He just so desired to be obedient to the Lord´s commandments that he no longer could stay in the same house with his wife until they were legally married.  He was baptized a member of the church one week later.  He was willing to give up everything for his testimony of the restored gospel.  One month later his wife called him up on the phone, and said, "honey, let´s go get hitched."  And so they were married very shortly after that.  And one year after they were sealed for time and all eternity in the temple.  One would never ever know of their difficulties as the patriarch and his wife are the most darling, loving couple, and the Spirit is so strong in their home it is almost like being in the temple.  The patriarch said, "It is not always easy to be a member of this church.  There will be moments when we feel we are unfairly losing everything, but if we are patient and wait, we will be lucky enough to see all the grand blessings our Father in Heaven has in store."  Obedience is always better.  Always. 

Our neighbor's dog, Simba.  We are feeding him tamales because he is a pretty fierce guard dog (aka bites people).  But if you feed him every once in a while, he is your friend. He is sick and very thin because his little body is full of ticks.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!  I love you all!

Sincerely, Hermana Johnson

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hermana Wong is Home! - November 3, 2014

Hey shout out to Mindy!  Congrats on completing your 18 months of service!  That is so spectacular.  She will continue being an excellent missionary at home as well, as she always has had a testimony and a light to share with everyone.  Good job mom, Kristy, and Rhonda for getting the house ready for sweet Sister Wong.  Too cool!

Hermana Mindy Wong returns home!
Ryan is happy to see his baby sister!

Oh happy day!  Hermana Wong is coming home today and three are getting the yellow ribbons ready!
Hey, good lookin pics of Molly from halloween!  She fits the part PERFECTLY.  I actually have seen Frozen.  We watched it at a ward activity last year believe it or not.  It´s pretty alright.  Even Molly´s braid was done to perfection.

Elise or should we say Elsa has the Frozen fever for Halloween
 I celebrated Halloween this year by buying a new pair of rain boots.  Winter has officially arrived here in Puerto Cortes!  And it is rain, rain, rain and more rain.  Puerto Cortes really is just one big swamp.  All the houses have to be built up on high stilts so that when it rains it doesn´t fill the house up with water.  But Saturday it rained so terribly that the water got up waist high in some parts. We were in the town center, and it was a massive river where the streets should be.  The elders literally had to go swimming to get to some of their appointments.  Now that´s dedication.  I would be too nervous to go swimming in that dirty water.  Many houses flooded with water as well.  In front of our apartment, the yard is covered a foot deep in water.  We can´t leave the house without putting our rain boots on.  With all the water, the snakes are coming out more than ever.  Tons of water snakes in the street.  One must take great caution where to step. ha ha ha  All the creepy critters are seeking refuge in my house.  Just this week we found two scorpions in the house.  We sweep the house every single day to try to keep the critters under control.  It´s nice that it´s cool now, but almost no one came to church on Sunday because no one felt like swimming I suppose.  The other cool thing is that now that the streets have turned into rivers, I suppose the sea spilled into them a bit, so they are full of fish and sea snails, so that´s pretty cool.

Rain boots - one of the best purchases made on the mission
The only bad thing is that when it rains they shut off the water in the house that we use to bath, wash the dishes, etc.  So we are back to bucket showers these days.  Lots of Halloween adventures.  We even found a street here in Puerto Cortes that celebrates Halloween.  They decorate their houses and send their kids trick or treating and everything, but only in one block here (10 to 12 houses as I believe they all have family in the US that passed on the idea).  Cool right?  Although it´s odd because all the stores and supermarkets decorate for Halloween (put up pumpkins, spider webs and things), but no one here actually celebrates it, except for one block of people.

Many times when the Spirit whispers to us, it gives us some really weird ideas.  Like this past week, we are visiting a less active family that has a teenage boy named Marco, who is 17 years old.  We go to visit the entire family, but Marco doesn´t pay us a whole lot of attention, and sometimes even tries to hide from us, or so we thought.  Well we prayed to know how to help Marco come back to the church and help him understand why the gospel is so important.  Marco is a super fan of Naruto, the anime, and so we felt the idea that we should teach him the plan of salvation comparing it to Naruto.  I thought that was the weirdest impression from the Spirit ever, but when I talked to Hermana Mejia about it, we felt it was the thing to do.  So Hermana Mejia then told me that before her mission she was also a super fan of Naruto, and so much so that she had even brought DVDs and playing cards with her on her mission.  I was totally shocked because she´s so obedient and hardworking.  She said after two months in the mission field she decided to leave it all behind and threw it all out because she couldn´t feel the Spirit knowing she was disobeying, so she doesn´t have that issue anymore.  So she spent all morning teaching me about Naruto and how we could compare it with the plan of salvation.  We even made him a Naruto themed poster with a list of the blessings one receives for going to church.  Well it totally worked because now he sits in the house waiting for us to arrive and pays attention in the lessons.  He liked his poster so much that he called us to thank us for it, and it is hanging up in his room.  The Spirit really acts in mysterious ways sometimes, and really God puts the missionaries He needs right in the place He needs them to be, because only Hermana Mejia would´ve been able to understand Marco´s likes and tastes to be able to relate them to the gospel and help him understand why it´s so important.  

Well anyways, lots of adventures here for Halloween.  I hope you all have an awesome week!  Love you lots!

Hermana Johnson          

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Halloween! - October 27, 2014

Happy Halloween from Honduras!
I am very proud to say I have wonderful parents who have been happily married for 29 years now. (Wow, that makes you people sound super old.  Just kidding!)  Way to keep the flame alive! 

Visiting the Omoa Castle for the 5,000th time.  (ha ha)  Believe it or not, Hermana Mejia had never been there before.
No, but really it is something worth celebrating.  Marriage is ordained of God.  I spend all day begging people to get married to comply with the commandments God has given us, because I know from the thousands of people I have visited that it leads to a more stable, happier, and united family.  Couples just living together is very challenging for me.  Why would anyone want to live like that?  That is probably the least romantic offer ever.... "Hey baby, now that we´ve been dating for a while, would you like to come live with me in my apartment?  You know, see how it goes for a while, who knows what´ll happen tomorrow."  Silly people, and somehow they think by that zero compromise, no catches here, what´s mine is mine, and what yours is yours will lead them to be happier.   

On the other hand, there is the offer of "Hey, would you like to be my eternal companion?"  Now that´s romantic!  Someone that no matter what happens good or bad, will always be by your side to support and love you for always.  Way to go mom and dad!

I am very, very grateful that my parents have set that good example of marriage first, family later, and that not only were they legally married, but they were sealed for all the eternities in the holy temple, so that our family can be together forever.  Now if that´s not worth celebrating, I don´t know what is.

Mom and dad are a great pair that complement each other super well.  You are both hardworking, loving parents that are willing to sacrifice everything for our family.  Thank you for the love and support you have always given me and continue to give me and for putting family before all, as that is just how our Heavenly Father wants it.  I couldn´t have asked for better parents in all the world.       

Way to go Molly for decorating the house for the anniversary. 

Speaking of decorations, I got two super fabulous Halloween packages this week.  One from Uncle Darren and one from Mom and Dad.  My apartment is absolutely BEAUTIFUL, stunning in fact.  We decorated our bedroom and our kitchen and still had left over decorations, so we gave some to the elders.   We put up the purple lights in the bedroom, threw spider webs all over, and put up pumpkins and the beware tape on the door.  At night we just sit in the dark for a few minutes looking at the lights, and we just feel so peaceful.  I feel right at home, because we all know how psyched mom gets for Halloween.  We have thoroughly enjoyed all the candy, and we´ll start giving all the Halloween toys Darren sent on Halloween day.  Whooooooooooooooo!

Our apartment all decked out for Halloween

Our bedroom looking spooky for Halloween
I love you all!  Have a wonderful Halloween and send me pics of everyone in their costumes!  
Hermana Johnson
Loving Puerto Cortes - October 20, 2014

This week was pretty alright.  There were some disappointments, but wonderful things happened as well.  Of course I've been worried about how all you people have been and how our family is doing with Nana's passing, but from what you sent it seems like it was a pretty peaceful week and that things went alright in California.  I'm glad the family could be together for a little bit.  It seems like the services went nicely, and I like the boys' matching ties.

Nana's boys after her funeral
As for transfers, I got to stay here with Hermana Mejia!  You all guessed right.  I'm glad I get to have more time with her because we are great buddies.  We were very disappointed though that Elder Melendez, our super awesome zone leader who serves here in our ward, has gone home as he finished his two years.  Elder Melendez and Elder Alonso were the greatest zone leaders I've ever had, and they were always there helping us with all the activities and the four of us really just felt like real brothers and sisters in the Lord's work.  This past transfer really was spectacular. 

The Fab Four working harder than ever in Honduras!
Lots of great things happened this week as well.  On Wednesday morning, we got to know an awesome lady just knocking on doors.  It was actually already time to head to our lunch appointment with a member, but we passed by the house and just felt that we needed to go right then, so we knocked on the door, and she let us in.  We told her about the restoration of the gospel, and when we told her about the story of Joseph Smith this lady just started to cry.  She said she felt something so powerful, such a great peace, that she never wanted us to leave.  She said the day we first arrived was very strange.  She said that she normally wears her pajamas all morning to clean the house and then changes after lunch.  On that Wednesday her husband wanted her to go to with him to the grocery store, but she felt something holding her back and that she needed to be at home, and so she said she showered, got dressed early and just sat down waiting.  She felt that she really needed to wait for something grand, and that very day we knocked on her door.  We have only visited three times, but she has already been studying her Book of Mormon and has committed to give up smoking and wants to go to church and everything.  She says she feels so much peace, and cries every single time we go to her house from the spirit.  We even got to know her husband this week, and he understands everything perfectly as well.  It was so amazing.  
When I leave her house, we feel like we are floating on a cloud because the spirit is so real and so strong, and she is just so well prepared by the Lord.  For people like her, we can walk all day and have everyone slam the door in our face and walk through ran and mud and jungles, and it's all totally worth it just to feel that perfect peace and happiness that only the true restored gospel of Jesus Christ can bring someone.  She says just to see our face fills her with joy and peace, so that gives me even more pressure to be a bit more perfect each day, because there are so many people watching our example as missionaries and as members as well of the Lord's church.  I feel so happy.

Thanks for all your love and support.  Happy birthday to Uncle Dave!
Hermana Johnson