Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hello once again!

Hello Everyone

How are you doing? I have had an amazing week!  This week is filled with so many experiences that I will treasure in my heart forever.  You know how people talk about experiences from the mission and they know deep in their heart that Heavenly Father prepared that person or that family for them to work with as a missionary? Well I am happy to tell you I had my first experience like that where the spirit was lighting me on fire! haha. We've been working with a new family who was a referral from South Man (Manhattan). A single mom with four beautiful children: Girl 12, Boy 10, Girl 8, and Boy 4. They are the coolest kids ever!!! They have been through so much and faced tremendous hardship.  I love the children SO MUCH! We've become best buddies =)  

The kids truly love having us over.  Our first visit we really got to know her and her struggles.  After she poured her heart out to us we connected it back to the atonement.  We had such a strong desire for her to find the hope and peace she was looking for that would be found in the Gospel and the atonement of Jesus Christ.

The next time we taught her we focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ and how baptism is the way we access the atonement in our lives.  During that whole meeting we all felt the spirit so strong! She cried at a few points, and both her and I commented on feeling the goose bumps that the spirit can bring.  I was amazed at how strong the spirit was when we talked to her about how that feeling she was feeling was confirming baptism was the right thing to do.  When we extended the baptismal invitation she said YES and that it wasn't even a question! The moments we have with her make up one hundred fold for all the frustrating moments we have contacting and trying to find people to teach.  The next time we visited we taught her and her children (who we had met previously).  Saturday night her and her 12 year old daughter came to the Young Women Broadcast at the chapel.  

All of the YW were super amazing about reaching out and welcoming them.  We also had our first member split that night. I went to a member's house with  because we were supposed to have a cottage meeting with an investigator we were working with before. The purpose of a cottage meeting is to have members and nonmembers over with the missionaries to eat dinner and socialize with a spiritual thought.  Unfortunately we got juked (aka stood up). However it was delicious food and great company for those of us who did go.
Today for P-day we deep some deep cleaning of the apartment for conference and it's AMAZING!!! We cleaned so much it's ridiculous! I was so happy to throw out a lot that has collected or been left behind by other missionaries. It's such a good feeling to have everything in order and organized. After that we went shopping for some summer clothes and there was a sweet store called Cool Cat and it's a store of all Jewelry! We shopped at Fordham (area) which isn't too far from us.

Also when we were doing some deep cleaning (sweeping, mopping, throwing things out, and organizing) I came across a ton of crafty/artsy things that had been left behind by another sister missionary. It was pretty much heaven =) It's my gift to me for cleaning. She left it behind with the intent of it being up for grabs. 
Mom I really appreciate the time you take to mail me cards/letters/pictures on a regular basis. I am such a blessed missionary.

I love all of you so much! 

Oh and Sam thank you for the microwavable corn on the cob! I haven't tried it yet, but I'm excited!
The only other thing I can report about at this time is the fact that all week we've been being fed by members, which has been such a blessing.  Especially because it's time I get to visit with the other missionaries and the members. 

Please keep Sister T. in your prayers? Her foot is giving her a ton of problems. 

May the Lord bless all of you and your lives.  Have a wonderful conference experience!

Love Sister Emily Johnson

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hello Everyone! (who reads this blog)

Hello Everyone (who reads this blog)
This weeks message might be short and sweet!  The thing is so much happens in a week and my time is limited to share. Therefore, only the major things that come to my mind will be included.

This week has been an interesting one for sure. I've been hitting some road blocks and really reflecting on why I am out here. It's funny with missions because there are so many ups and downs! The mission makes me feel somewhat bipolar to be honest haha. But it's cool because when you're being worn out you are able to rely on the Lord to help you find the strength and motivation from deep inside to press forward.

I expressed my frustrations to my companion and as we talked it helped me work through my difficulties. I am thankful the Lord lets us work in companionships to learn and grow.  The main thing I've noticed from this week is that these challenging times are really stretching me for the better.  I feel like someone in a very mild version of a renisanse (sp?) stretching/pulling torture machine! haha  A mission is quite the strain on your physical body and your mental capacity! Each day stretching you a little bit more and more! But the difference between the torture device and a mission is that at the end you aren't a tattered dead person. You are a polish/defined human being who has willingly took upon themselves a challenge to become the very best they can be through our Savior Jesus Christ. 

Monday we had Zone Training which was very inspiring/uplifting! It was all about Love and how that was the most important thing we could do for the people of NY. I thought about the attributes I came out to the mission field with. I know I am here in NY because I love people.  Although I'm not perfect at it or the way I teach the doctrine I genuinely love the people.  I know Heavenly Father will help me improve and grow.
My time is short because I am on a public computer right now at the library in Manhattan! So I will include two more thoughts before I run out of time. 

The first being that I just went to a session at the Manhattan Temple! It was awesome! I love the Manhattan temple because the interior design is gorgeous and they have some gorgeous murals painted on the walls and pictures hung that captivated me =) Not to mention I love going to the temple and reflecting in the peace and quite. And trust me, in NY city you appreciate that silence!

The other thing I wanted to share in my last 15 minutes is about church on Sunday.  During the sacrament meeting I was thinking about how I wanted the lord to help me become my best self. In my mind I wanted him to tell me when big way I needed to improve.  As I sat there I had this analogy develop in my mind.  It was that of a rock.  It begins jagged and rough. That rock is us as humans.  The rock is submerged into the stream of water.  The flowing water is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we submerge ourselves in the Gospel of Jesus Christ gradually we are refined! We become polished and smooth.  However, we must remember it is a gradual process.  The Lord is not going to chip of a chunk of our rough edges because he know that will hurt us or we will get offended.  Yet as we embrace the basics of the Gospel we can transform our lives to become our best selves.  Furthermore, if we take the rock out of the routine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ we hault if not stop our refining process entirely.  The world of day to day morality is not going to help us become better/smooth. If anything it will add to our sharp edges. However, even if we have taken ourselves out, someone else took us out, or we were never in to begin with, the living water of Jesus Christ is always available to ALL of us. At anytime and any place.  The sooner we emerge ourselves, the sooner we allow the Savior's hand back in our lives to sooth our pain, to polish ourselves, and to continually become the beautiful stone we have the potential to become!

      I love you all very much! I appreciate your support. Each week when I go to church to take the sacrament, read my scriptures, pray, serve, and love I am going to keep in mind the polished stone I want to become.  I encourage and invite you to do the same.  Give the Gospel of Jesus Christ a fair chance and I promise you you will feel the blessings and love pour out from Heaven that I can't even begin to explain!

I am thankful to be called as a full time missionary regardless of the daily ups and downs.  I can cope with them because of my Savior and because I know this is his work. He went through so much agony and pain for me.  If I am going to represent him I need to be willing to do the same (obviously not on the same scale) ;)
Peace and Blessings! Peace and Blessin's!
Sister Emily Johnson

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blog Time!

Blog time!
Hello again!

It is warming up out here in the Bronx. It's been pretty nice out, but I'm not going to lie, I am worried for the summer! haha and I'm from Arizona. However, I hear the humidity is killer.
This week has been rather eventful! 
When we woke up we found a dead mouse that had drowned in a pan in our sink. That was pretty gross! lol. Later that day we got to go pick up couches from an investigator-the family who is working towards a baptismal date, because they were getting rid of two perfectly good couches. We got to ride in the truck over to their apartment. When we were back at our apartment some of the other missionaries came over to help us unload them and get them up stairs in our building.  It's rather amazing to see how people maneuver in the city when it comes to furniture and such. This was the first day the weather started to brighten up. When we were arranging the couches in our apartment on the fourth floor we had the windows open and a glorious breeze danced through the room. That was the same time the APs (assistant to the president) brought the mail from the Mission home to our zone. I got two letters from some amazing boys in my life! lol I was pleased to finally hear from Ethan and Tristan since getting to New York. I also had two packages from my family. One consisted of fruit snacks with a card from my nephew! The other had some delicious home made cookies and letters from my parents! It was such a wonderful day. Later that day we had an apartment inspection and we passed :) It was by a couple who has a calling supporting our mission president (the Denisons) and they are the best! Afterwards they gave us a ride to our appointment to the family we are teaching (who have a baptism date). That family has been pretty busy and have not been keeping their commitments, thus they're not progressing.

Funny Story!
So Thursday night/Friday morning I got up to use the bathroom. When I was sitting there I saw something creepy run past my feet along the wall! It ran back and forth a few times quickly, I jumped up and yelled "Oh my gosh!" My companion and one other sister who had been up talking in the other room heard me. My companion came over to the door and asked if I was ok. I said, "There is a mouse in here and no toilet paper!" Hahah she got me some toilet paper and I fled from the bathroom feeling very jumpy.  I sat in the other room and talked to the other sisters for a little bit before I decided I really needed to use the bathroom so I could go back to sleep.
We decided to have a mouse hunt! Sister Vanderdose, one of my new heroes, led the brigade! Sister T. kept psyching me out and tricking me into thinking it was right by me and I would jump! After much distress on my bladder and sanity Sister V. caught the mouse! It was an adventure to say the least. I was able to relieve my bladder and return to my peaceful slumbers :)

we spent most of the day tracting.  We actually had a Muslim family let us into their apartment. Not so much because they were interested in hearing our message, but because the mom decided she liked us. She made us some delicious home made lemonade. Following that she made us some noodles with veggies on top. We were hungry and in no position to turn down food. lol. Meanwhile we talked to her daughter who was our age. Later when here son got home from school he joined us and he was fascinating to talk to. He knows like 5 languages and plays cricket. He's a really awesome guy and he seemed very interested in what we did as missionaries. They taught us some phrases in Bengali (from Bangladesh). It was interesting learning about their culture and customs.  At the end of our visit the son gave us a Quran and we gave him a Book of Mormon :)

Another Funny Story!
Saturday before we left the house we were doing our companion study.  We had been studying in Preach My Gospel where it talks about How to Begin Teaching. We had really focused on the suggestions and how we can apply them in our missionary efforts.  We discussed how important the last bullet point was and how we wanted to internalize it. Later when I was saying the closing prayer I asked Heavenly Father to help us "take the bullet to heart!" My companion and I started laughing hysterical! It took us a few minutes to recover and continue with the prayer ;)

Sunday we did a lot of contacting after church. Our investigators did not come even though they promised they would. We are really trying to increase our teaching pool of people so we have things to do during the week. When I first came in this area it was not really moving forward (at least in my companionship-some of the other missionaries have investigators). However, we've been working really hard the last few weeks to really turn things around in our area. The start of this week is when I've really seen those blessings start to come forward!

Monday we had Zone Meeting and a District meeting where we set our new goals for April and followed up with how our goals were coming.  It was a really good meeting because we were all feeling motivated and excited to do the work! We set some positive goals, especially in our companionship, and we've noticed the Lord has been blessing us big time!
Monday we really felt the Lord bless us tremendously! We had a lot of success in one of the buildings we tracted and we left there with three set appointments! We've also been getting a ton of referrals for the Spanish elders! It's a little ridiculous how many Spanish speaking people there are here. A lot of them are from the Dominican Republic.  I'm going to try and pick up some Spanish here because it's definitely beneficial. As we contact, when we run into Spanish speaking people Sister T. knows just enough to say that we're missionaries, she doesn't know very much Spanish but would it be ok if the Spanish missionaries came back to share a message about Jesus Christ. If they say yes, which most of them do, she'll write down their info and we'll give it to the Elders. It's interesting how open the Spanish people are. Most of the white people are very closed minded lol.
We had dinner in the park feeling so blessed!

Tuesday we were suppose to have an appointment early in the day but it fell through. We went to the park we were at the night before and played on the swings! It was so cool because the city surrounded us. When I was swinging I saw planes, trains, and automobiles! It was so amazing to feel so free while being in the midst of a crazy/busy city. The city didn't seem so big when I was on the swings.  After that we had an appointment with a woman who was a referral and that was an incredible experience! She's totally been prepared by the Lord and we are looking forward to working with her and her family! Well my time is running short, but know that the Lord is in control of all things. He loves all of us so much! If we are patient and work with his time frame the blessings are endless. In the meantime we must bare our afflictions with patience like the people in Alma.

I'm so thankful the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on this earth! I am thankful for living prophets today and am so stoked for General Conference.

Peace and Blessin's PEACE and Blessings!
Sister Johnson

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Week 4/ or Week 1 in New York!

Hello Friends and Family!

How are all of you?! I hope you have had a magnificent week!
I have officially been on my mission for one month! And in my new area for one week :) I have a feeling things are really going to pick up time wise.

It's funny how much can change in one week. I've established a better friendship with my companion, I'm getting to know the area, I've talked to dozens of people, and I'm getting to know the other missionaries in my district and zone.
When I first got here we had no current progressing investigators. Therefore our main objective was to do a lot of contacting to lay the ground work for a positive cycle (6 weeks).  We are the third cycle of English speaking sisters in this area so there is a lot of work to be done!

The first few days were spent contacting. I've really stepped out of my comfort zone as far as talking to people on buses, trains, and at their doors.  The nice part about being a missionary is that you have no distractions. It's like, either you talk to these people, or you sit here and do nothing.  It really takes away the fear of them rejecting you. When it comes down to it if you just open your mouth you will find those who are interested in learning. Yes you may come across a lot who aren't interested, but that's ok because there will be those who are.  We gave out a lot of pass a long cards and Book of Mormon.  It's cool being a missionary and just really getting down to the basics of what we believe.

Saturday we taught a lesson with a family who is amazing! We taught the Restoration.  My companion and her last companion had already visited them once.  The lesson went really well and we could feel they were ready to progress. I will come back to them in a minute.
As for the local area, I am starting to learn my way around! I know the church address, the Sister missionary phone number, my new direct address where all of you wonderful people should write me and send me letters of encouragement ;) But seriously!
My companion and I have been having a lot of fun as we do the work and get down to business! We like to talk in different accents and be silly when we are knocking doors. Not at the doors when we're talking to people of course but definitely in between to make things interesting.  Whenever dogs bark at us from behind the doors when no one is home I always comment on how that dog is so ready to hear our message! haha it's silly but it keeps things fun!

The other sister who share our apartment are the two Spanish speaking sister, Sister Beck and Sister Vanderdose. They are both very funny people! Sis. V. is a brilliant singer! This morning when I was talking with Sister V. she shared a very cool quote with me my Gordon B. Hinckley that I thought was extremely powerful.

"Many young women are serving missions. Many are preparing to serve, not because they aren't married or have nothing else to do, but because they have a desire to serve.  The reason so many are going is because in the next generation, Heavenly Father will be sending his priesthood army to the earth.  He wants to send them to mothers who have been properly trained and taught in The Gospel.  And what better way/training can a young women have than that of serving a mission?" -President Gordon B. Hinckley

I thought this quote was absolutely perfect! I know that I have a desire to serve the Lord and to grow in my testimony.  I had never thought of it like this before, but it's true. I want to be prepared to raise the most spiritual generation our time has ever seen.  The only way I will be able to be the best mother I can be is by serving the Lord right here right now.
I appreciate all of your prayers!

Monday we had another lesson with our family who is progressing. We knew we wanted to invite them to be baptized. We also felt that it would be very beneficial to have one of our members present. We faced some opposition prior to our lesson. I was worried, but then I felt the spirit rush over me and confirm that everything was going to be ok! It was just a blessing to have that confirmation. So I relaxed and when we went to teach our lesson the spirit was definitely there! Having a member present was exactly what we needed! The couple that we are teaching committed to be baptized! We are working for March 31st! I felt the spirit so strong! I am so excited to see them accept the Lord in their lives.  They will be a tremendously blessing to the ward as well.

Speaking of the ward, Sunday I met the people in our ward (kingsbridge 2nd ward) and they are awesome people! It kind of reminded me of the Hollywood ward when I visit my brother Seth in California.  The people in our ward are amazing though :) We even have a man in our ward who changed his name to George Washington! haha We have a lesson with him tonight. Church service on Sunday was very refreshing.  Sunday night we did look ups, which is where we have names, addresses, and sometimes phone numbers of people who might be interested in learning more.  We go by their place to try to set up an appointment or decide if they need to be dropped.
Monday night after we left our appointment it was FREEZING cold!!! It's something that I'm trying to adjust to.  We went to subway and my stomach hadn't been feeling great :( I ended up getting sick. Not so much from the subway, but from the fact that my stomach hadn't adjusted to NY yet so things just haven't been working right.. The only reason I mention this is because it explains why I threw up leaving a look up later that night. Then I didn't sleep well at all that night.  I ended up getting up to get to refill my water bottle and I felt really light headed. I was trying to get my water bottle lid on when I threw up in the sink and blacked out. I heard my companion ask if I was ok. I was laying on the floor and I told her yes. I was wondering why my pants where all wet...turns out when I fell I dumped out my entire water bottle! lol. I got up, turned on the light and cleaned up my mess.
I went to back to sleep feeling much better at this point.  Earlier that morning all of the sister in our apartment did P90x and I was sure feeling it in my legs!!! I think the lack of sleep, adjusting to the food, schedule, and all the walking, and being dehydrated was really getting to me!

I woke up a few hours later for our personal study. When we were talking about our plans for the day we only had look ups.  Sister T. realized I didn't NOT feel well at all! She decided I could use the day to sleep/recover! I ended up sleeping until 8p.m.! But when I finally got up I felt amazing! I'm really grateful for her patience as I recovered. She spent the day deep cleaning our apartment.  I got more sleep that night and today I am fully recovered and ready to roll!

Since it's preparation day we have until 6p.m. to accomplish the things we would like to =)
After I finish this email we are going to go down to the city! We got permission from the zone leaders to go to Manhattan to visit the Met =) It's going to be a lovely LOVELY day!!!
I love you all!

I am thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ! And the way it guides us through this life and helps us understand what will come after death.
Peace and Blessin's PEACE AND BLESSINGS!

Sister Emily Johnson

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I'm in New York!

Hello friends and family!
         I live in New York now! It was a great last week at the MTC.  It was hard to say goodbye to the others in my district but I kept looking forward.  I knew it was going to be fine if I trust in the Lord and embraced the adventure that lies ahead.  Well yesterday I packed up and left the MTC at 4am and we took a bus to the airport.  We flew American airlines and the two planes I was on (the first to Chicago and the second to New York) were the smallest planes I think I've ever been on.  I wish my dad was on the plane so he could tell me what kind it was.  I can always count on him for his knowledge :)
        Dad to give you an idea of how small they were picture this: when you walked to the end of the ramp to the plane, the plane was about half the size of the ramp cover and you'd have to walk across a ramp connecting the plane to the ramp.  I'm not sure how well I'm explaining this.  Therefore, let me try to give you a better idea for the second plane.  The rows of the plane was one on one side and two on the other.  There were only about 17 rows, if that, and the over head compartment was only on one side and instead of having doors that raised up they rolled down. After we landed in New York (Westchester County/ White Plains) we walked off the plane on to the runway.  The flights weren't too bad I just was intrigued by how small the plane was.
        When we landed we were picked up by a couple of missionaries and the mission president, President Smith.  They were pretty nice people.  It was crazy because we didn't really know what to expect.  One of the missionaries who I immediately became friends with, Elder Sorensen looks like Quinn to me! lol. He drove some of us in the van back to the mission home.  He's pretty funny.  Unfortunately he's leaving tomorrow. He'll be heading back to Orem Utah. I think he said Orem. 
       That first night at the mission home we met some of the other new missionaries.  There was a Sis. Portugal from Virginia (original born in Puru) who didn't get sent to the MTC but is super nice! Sister Broderick and I immediately became friends with her.  There were some other Elders who came from Eastern states that were fun people.  A few of them had Skype training instead of reporting to the mtc.  I thought that was really interesting! We were all on our best behavior because we were all new and unsure of what to expect.  We had a lovely dinner with the mission president and his wife.  They let us call it a night early since most of us had been up since 3a.m.  Before the night was over we had the couples who help support the mission presidency come over and discus with us the logistics of the serious things like driving rules (if you get in a mission where you will drive), support cards that have our money, and MTC insurance info.  The next morning we had breakfast and talked about the spiritual side of life on a mission. 
     When the APS and some of the other missionaries came we received our assignments!  I have been assigned to serve in the Bronx! My companion's name is Sister Tu'Akalau.  On the way to meet everyone for the transfer meeting I asked Elder Sorensen and his companion (who's name starts with an S but slips my mind at this time) told me she was like a gangster Tongan haha. I was excited.  When we arrived at the transfer meeting in the parking garage underneath the Bronx chapel everyone was filled with excitement.  I'd say there were about 70 or so missionaries there hollering and cheering.  It was pretty intense but very cool at the same time.  All of the new missionaries introduced themselves.
      After all the introductions we were introduced to our companion ships! I met Sister Tu'Akalau (To-Walka-lou) and she seemed pretty nice.  I met a lot of new people today.  There were a few people from Arizona that I made some connections with.  Hermana Sanders was in my ward in Flagstaff my freshman year of college, but we never met.  However, she knew Sister Jones (Tayna) and Janice. It was weird making those connections.  Even weirder though I met Elder Blake Rossell that is really good friends with my friend Ashley Wright and lives about a mile from me.  It's weird because once we started making the connections I realized I had hung out with him in a group a few times! I knew he looked so familiar to me, but I didn't place it until I asked him his first name.  Anyhow he's flying home tomorrow so I asked him to send my love to Arizona!  There is one sister here who is staying for one more transfer. She is down in Harlem, Sister Dunacan, but she's super amazing and has made me feel so welcomed. 
     Sister T, as others call my companion lol, seems super cool.  I'm excited to get to know her better. Everyone tells me she is awesome! Our building that we live in is kind of smelly outside, but our actual apartment is pretty cute!  I love you all! I appreciate your love and support.  It means more to me than I could explain.
I love the gospel of Jesus Christ and I am excited to teach and meet the people here in New York.
Sister Johnson