Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thurday July 19th-Wednesday July 25th

Dear family and friends,

I would like to highlight a few main points of the past week to let you know what I am up to in the Bronx. 
Lately we're trying to have quality teaching experiences with the people of the Bronx to better help them progress in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition, to help them understand the importance of the things we are teaching.  I'm not saying we didn't care about having quality lessons before. It is just that I have come to a great understanding that we can not do this work without the help of our loving Heavenly Father and the converting power of the Holy Ghost. I have been seeking the Lord earnestly in prayer more and more.  
Even though the work has its slow moments I know the Lord has been using me and my personality to build up his kingdom. I have  made some wonderful connections and friendships with ward members, recent converts, and other investigators. Even if I have not been the missionary teaching them it's still amazing to see the impact/influence I can have on them.

This last Thursday, July 19th, we had one of our investigators over for a Cottage Meeting with the Britton family.
The Brittons are amazing! It was awesome that our investigator came because he had been in the hospital the day before. He thought he had a hernia. Turns out he ripped two internal stomach muscles! He got treatment and then rested about 24 hrs. so he had some energy to come with us.  When I shared the spiritual thought I did my best to follow the spirit and liken the scriptures to some of the trials he has been facing.

On Friday we had the Blitz. That's where all the missionaries come to one area and help the missionaries in that area build up the work/give them referrals.  I went with Hermana Pipes.  We had an amazing lesson with a guy at his work place. He works at a building for under privileged people. He was very receptive and open to our message. There were a few points where the other sister tried to end the lesson, but I felt the spirit telling me to keep going, to keep teaching him about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I bore my testimony about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith as a prophet. He seemed touched by the account of the first vision.  He was open to reading the Book of Mormon and learning more about our message.
Unfortunately, fast forward a few days when I called him, he told me his family wasn't open to it. He had already told us they was a different church they went to. He said he'd read the Book of Mormon though and if he was intrigued he'd give us a call.  
Situations like that are so hard because I felt the spirit so strong when we taught him and he was guided by the spirit to learn more, yet his family closed that door that had opened.  I know I did my part however in planting the seed. He had never heard of the Book of Mormon before that.

Sunday was a good day. It was pretty relaxed and I enjoyed church very much.

My personal goals for this week are
  • see/have the pure love of Christ
  • pray often/be humble/be diligent
  • obedience
  • work hard/use time well
Monday July 23rd we had dinner at a members apartment. She is a young single adult who is published in the magazine FamilyCircle. I love the opportunity I have as a missionary to meet lots of members in our ward and find out more about their lives. It is always so fascinating to me to see how people are (in work, home, food, school, the gospel, etc)
That night I had a really good lesson with our investigator (the same one from Thursday night) on the phone. He wasn't able to make it to church that week but we talked about how he had been reflecting a lot while he was recovering. He knows he needs to put God first in his life. One of the things we've committed him to do is pray every morning and night.  I asked him if he had asked God if the Book of Mormon was true. He told me he knew the Book of Mormon is true because of who I am. He said we are role models to him and he can feel our goodness. I agreed and said how when we really center the Book of Mormon and the teachings of Jesus Christ and his gospel in our lives other people can see it and feel it.  I then stressed the importance to him of gaining a spiritual confirmation of these things. Sometimes it is hard to help people see that without the spiritual confirmation of the Holy Ghost we don't realize the need to act.

Tuesday July 24th was my favorite day this past week.
Happy Pioneer Day!
We first went with the Elders to visit one of their recent converts (Yassmin) who I adore. She is wonderful.
Following that we stopped by and checked on another one of my favorite people (Candy) who I taught the first time she came to church. She literally lives across the street from our area so we don't teach her, but the Elders are.  She is absolutely great <3 
I love that the friendships I am building here will continue to last even after my mission is over.
That evening we went with the Elders in our district to have a picnic at Van Courtland Park.  We were meeting to of the Senior missionary couples (Denisons and Merrells) and I was so proud of us for being on time.  To pass the time Elder Garvin and Stratton were pass a football back and forth. I had Elder Stratton remind me how to throw it well. It was like going back to fifth grade when I was a tomboy and "LOVED" football. haha. Anyways, after a few attempts I'm proud to say that I got decent!
About fifteen minutes later we realized we might not be in the right place. After some confusion we finally got n the right path and traveled the remaining distance to where the senior missionaries where set up.
Shortly after the Morgans joined us! President Morgan's wife and two of their sons came. He was going to come but there was some maintenance problems being attended to at the mission home.  They are a wonderful family and I'm thrilled to have them as our new mission president.
We had a delicious picnic with burgers, hotdogs, watermelon, chips, and brownies. It was so American I loved it. 
After dinner we tossed the football around quite a bit! Elder Denison (senior couple missionary in my ward who is hilarious) thinks I'm pretty talented =D He asked if I had brothers... or if I was a tomboy growing up. I told him Both!
After a lovely time the Morgans offered us a ride home. Sister Asregadoo and I accepted. One of the highlights about being a sister missionary is that when rides are offered you are always first on the list. Often times we are the only ones who get the ride.
I was able to give Sister Morgan directions back to our place. I am proud of myself because I know the area, and apparently well enough to give driving instructions!
On the way home we were able to see one of the fire hydrants splash water into the street. Her two boys ages 19 and 16 thought that was really cool! That is one of my favorite things about the Bronx :) 
Something else funny from the ride home was when we saw someone driving their remote control car out on Grand Concourse! Which is the main road by the church. Haha it was rather funny. Sister Morgan said the Bronx was an interesting place. Ryan, the younger son, said unique was an understatement.

Today we were at the church playing Rummikub and Egytian war. We then tried to go to the Bronx Art Museum but they are only open Thursday-Sunday. It was a cool place though. I could definitely see some of my installation pieces being displayed there!

Well that's it for now. I am thankful for who I am becoming out here. The Lord refines me everyday! There is quite a bit for him to refine. lol. But seriously, I love serving... even when it's hard because it is so satisfying. The Lord is incredible and I am thankful to be alive everyday.  Ethan Kirkpatrick finishes his mission today! It's weird being older and seeing how fast two years can come and go.  August 8th will be my 6th month mark. I know with the upcoming changes of seasons and eventually areas the work and my service will continue to speed by.

Remember to make time for the Lord to communicate with you this week.
He will do this through quality
  • Prayer
  • Scripture Study
  • Church Attendance
Sister Emily A. Johnson

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 12- July 18

The weeks come and go so quickly! 
I have been on my mission for five and a half months! 
Furthermore, one of my best friends Ethan Kirkpatrick will be finishing his mission in Southern France this next week or so! That is craziness! I remember when he just left and I had no idea how I was going to get through those two years.

Yet time kept moving. Before I knew it I was headed to London for my great adventure. After 9 months there I came home to Arizona for a while. In the summer I worked and in the fall I embarked back to Flagstaff for another semester of school before my mission.  
Just the other day I remember when my brother Brad graduated dental school and had a year residency to accomplish before he would be moving to Arizona to work full time as a dentist there.
As of this past week Brad has moved his family to Arizona! The year has come and gone.  I know that is what will shortly happen to me. I am working everyday to help build up the kingdom of God.  It seems like forever until I will be home with my family and friends. Yet when I think about it, August 8th will be my one year count down just as Brad once had. 
It is up to me to work my hardest and give my best to the Lord with this time I have been given.

I was talking to Sister Ortega last night about how life is all about change. Every moment of every day we are evolving. There are periods where things stay in a similar routine, but eventually we must let it go and make room for what God will bring us next.  
We let go of roommates, classes, places we live, death, and so much more. We can never keep things the same forever. Thus it is so important to cherish every page of every life chapter. We never know when we will have to let things go. However, just because you can't see what's coming down stream to your hands when you let go of what you had, it does not mean God wont give you something better.  It may not always appear better at first, but all things are for our good.  

This past week has been pretty good.  
There were two highlights!
Saturday one of the Elder's investigators who I'm really good friends with, Yassmin Benon, was baptized! It was so great to see her take that step forward in her commitment to follow Jesus Christ. As she made that covenant I was filled with an overwhelming joy and love.  She truly is entering the gate to lead her back to our loving Heavenly Father.  
Then on Sunday we had a dinner party with another investigator who is not in the area I teach in, but we're really close because when she first came to church a couple of months ago on her own, I was the first person she really made contact with and we clicked :)  That's Candi. She's way legit. I love the friendships I am developing on the mission.
I really want to find the people who are kept from the gospel simply because they know not where to find it, who also live in my area lol. Please keep me in your prayers.  One of the hardest things I've run into in the Bronx is finding legit people to teach and they end up not living in the area you specifically are assigned to. Then you give their information to other missionaries who work in that area.  It's great in the sense that these individuals are still progressing in their relationship with God. Yet challenging in the sense that I want to be teaching them.  At the dinner Candi made delicious pina coladas (alcohol free) I got the recipe from her!

A lot of my favorite missionaries are going to be dying soon! (going home) It's weird to think about mission life without them. I'm intrigued to see what's going to happen and who's going to go where.  I love the Kingsbridge Second Ward! They are just amazing! I appreciate each and everyone of them.

I am thankful for your love and support. Please please keep me in your prayers, actually scratch that, pray for the people of NY and I'll just try to do my part and follow the spirit =D

Sister Emily Johnson

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11th

What a glorious opportunity I have to be serving the people of New York! 
What is the value of a full-time mission? Watch this video and see for yourself!

Oh hey guys! Hi :)
I'm so glad you found your way back to my blog.

First things first, this morning I ran three-four miles with Hermana Pipes and it was awesome! We ran near where we live and it turned into an adventure! We are pretty close to the Botanical Gardens and the Bronx River. We embarked on a quest to find the river. As a result of this quest we found a very cool park that is near our apartment that runs along side of the river. My senses were invigorated early this morning as I navigated my way through park trails. My eyes and ears beheld many furry creatures. It was as if I were no longer in the Bronx.  Hermana Pipes and I plan to do this every P-day morning as our schedules are more flexible.

This past week has been a bit of a blur because I have been sick. Wednesday night after we had an amazing time going through the fire hydrant I might have stayed in wet clothes too long... and had the ac blowing cold air on me. And some how I managed to get sick. For the life of me I don't know how that happened ;)
It was totally worth it though. lol

Anyhow, I've learned a lot about how much compassion my companion has :) My under the weather feelings only affected one and a half days of work. One of those nights when we came home a little early I had some of Sister Asregadoo's ice cream. After that she read to me from the New Testament (by my request) until I eventually feel asleep. What good times!

Last night we had dinner with one of my favorite families in the ward. I'm going to disclose their name because I don't think they will mind. It's the Cruz family! Sister Cruz actually has a lot of family in Gilbert and Mesa.  Her and Bro. Cruz got married at the pavilion preserve behind the library on Greenfield and Guadalupe. When I found that out of few months ago I was way excited because that's where my dad and I run sometimes =) They are such a great family! We're going to keep in touch in the future when they are out visiting in Arizona.

July 9th was my five month mark on the mission! I'm starting to feel legit and established.  I am loving the Bronx! We have such amazing individuals in our ward and it's been amazing for me to get to know each of them more and more.  Sister Asregadoo and I are still figuring out each others teaching styles, but all in all the Lord blesses us with miracles every single day. We have to look for them. They are not always big, but they are definitely there.  Yesterday, one of the miracles the lord blessed us with is when we were tracting in a building and this African family let us in.  I love getting to know people so anytime someone lets us in it's always a delight.  The mother there had a very unique name. Her name is Patience. I asked her if she's patient. She chuckled and said sometimes. Also, she runs a day care and one of the children there is this darling little girl and her name is Genisis.

Friday the 6th the Elders in my district (Elder Wendel and Elder Bussard) had a baptism! They have two more upcoming! They are doing such great work :) One complication they are facing is that one of the investigators who wants to get baptized has a tracheal tube and they are trying to work out the details since that can't get wet. If you have any ideas or you know someone who has been baptized who has one bless write me and let us know.  For time purposes, ask one of my family members for my email address and send it on over.  If nothing else, if you know a doctor that works with anything remotely close that might have a professional opinion, that would also be appreciated!

The area that the elders work in covers an entire Spanish ward and more so they receive a lot of referrals. I'm really hoping and praying the Lord will help us find the elect that he has prepared for me and my companion. In the meantime we'll have to continue doing all we can to teach when we find and find when we teach.
Please know that referrals from ward members of friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, etc are one of the most effective ways of finding for missionaries.  People that already have connections and that network of support from those you know are usually way more solid than the people that tell us they are interested in learning more but then ignore us. So please wont you prayerfully ask the Lord who you can invite to meet the missionaries.  Think of the missionaries in your area as me! haha 

After I send this email we are going to head to Manhattan to go to the Cloisters museum. It supposed to be sweet =) it's mostly Renaissance Art if I remember correctly. I am looking forward to that!

I love being a missionary! I love feeling the spirit work through me so strongly. I love having my mind enlightened as I search, ponder, and pray about the message of the restored gospel. I know the Lord is in control and is blessing each of us in ways we can't fully comprehend right now.  I know Joseph Smith was a humble servant of the Lord called to restore the Lord's church again on the earth because of his humility and faith in Jesus Christ.  I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He lives, and while he lives I'll sing, I know that my redeemer lives!

I love you. I hope everything is going well in your individual lives.

Peace and Blessings!
Peace and Blessin's

Sister Emily A. Johnson

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!!

It has been another week in the Bronx. However, unlike past weeks this week was interesting because it was hard to tell the difference between if we were hearing gun shots or fireworks! Just kidding... somewhat.
The best part is that I know the Lord is watching out for us.

Lets recap on this last week shall we :)

Thursday night was a cottage meeting at one of our members houses.  With a lot of persistence from me we were able to get one of our investigators there. Basically for those of you who haven't read my other emails, or don't remember, a cottage meeting is when a member opens up their home to have the missionaries and their investigators over for dinner. To make it more simple, it's feeding the missionaries and also having investigators or less active members present.

We recently watched a MTC devotional by Elder Holland (when we had our last zone conference with the old mission president). It was fantastic! It was really funny though because Elder Holland talked about how we need to be persistent as missionaries. He said, "My wife's Avon lady is more persistent than you." haha
I know our investigator would not have come if I wasn't so persistent with her. When all things were said and done she had a lovely time :)

Friday at the Blitz I split and went with Sister Pipes. It was my first time getting to work with her. I love seeing how different people approach missionary work.
One door we were at had some really loud Spanish Rap music playing. It was way legit. They either didn't hear us knock on the door or they didn't want to but it was probably one of my favorite door approaches because we started rapping about how we were missionaries there to preach the word of god =)
I always wonder when people with really loud music if they don't answer their door because we're missionaries or if they think neighbors have come to complain about the noise. lol

Later that night we saw one of our progressing investigators...ok our only progressing ;) But the others are close.  He took us to a dinner on Jerome and we got dessert. While we were there we taught him the second half of the Plan of Salvation. It went way good :) I love feeling the spirit when I teach as a missionary.

Saturday we spent out tracting and we found a legit guy! It's amazing to see how the spirit has been working through me as I take over the area. The Lord is helping me feel more confident in my ability to teach his gospel.  

Sunday at church, unbeknownst to me, the bishopric was released and a new bishopric was called.  I was really caught off guard by this because I didn't know there were going to be changes.  However, I feel really good about these changes.  I am excited to see the direction Bishop Merkley leads us now :)

Monday we went to go teach a really amazing guy we contacted the other night. Unfortunately he gave us bad information. Aka he JUKED us. It was fine though because I know the Lord knows where I will go and puts people in my path regardless. After we left the building we went into family dollar to pick up a couple of things.  While there we ended up having a really spiritual lesson with a Jamaica man who is a professional carpenter. He now works at Family Dollar during the nights because the current economical situation. He's way cool though.

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to go down to Manhattan and have a meet and greet zone conference with our new mission president and his family.  President Morgan and his wife are excited to be here =) and we're excited to have them.  They have a lovely family. Two of their five sons are out here with them. One has just graduated high school and is awaiting his depart to Chile to serve a full time mission. The baby of the family is 16 and will attend White Plains High for his Jr. and Senior yr of high school.
President Morgan works very high up at Zion's Bank. I can't remember what exactly he does but I know he plays a big role in it. They will be my mission president for a year of my mission.
The Morgans are way legit! I'm excited for the new energy and fire they will bring into the work.

As for yesterday, Wednesday July fourth... it was pretty epic =P 
First things first, Tristan I hope you had an amazing 22nd birthday!
I spent the majority of the day with some of the other missionaries.  First we were there saving a park spot for the Spanish ward, later they were going to be having a picnic.  While it was just some of us missionaries at the park we played with the bubble wands my mom had sent me! :) It was awesome, I was laying down on a blanket looking up at the blue sky with boisterous green leaves blocking my eyes from the sunlight, with the exception of the few rays pointing through.  As I took in the beautiful image above me bubbles drifted over me reflecting every visible color. 
Later during the picnic I got to meet some of the members from the Spanish ward. Also, I met a guy named Austin who is from Gilbert who served his mission here a little over a year ago. He is back out here studying music composition. He wants to attend Julliard. He has a lot of business ideas that I think we might collaborate on in the future. I love how heavenly father gives us a chance to learn and grow from one another. Not to mention, network!

Then finally, the perfect way we ended the day was going with two of the elders and taking pictures of us running through a fire hydrant that was crazier than most of them! Typically they just splash on the ground. However, someone had attached a wooden plank at an angle of this one that made it launch the water in the air! It was crazy cool.  Furthermore, it had been such a hot a sweaty day that it was insanely refreshing to get soaking wet. All the people sitting out on their stoops cheered so loud for the Elders! I think it's because they decided to get wet wearing their suit and tie.
That was definitely the highlight of my day! It was so fun and silly, and it felt incredible!

The Lord has been blessing me as I take over the area. It's cool to learn how I truly can listen to and follow the promptings of the spirit. I'm so grateful for the Lord's church, and the fact that there is a way provided for each of us to know if these things are true.

Sister Emily A. Johnson