Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This has been a wonderful week! (Aug 23-29)

This past week Thursday August 23rd-Wednesday August 29th has probably been one of the best weeks in my whole mission!
I realize this is quite a bold statement, but it's pretty true =)
Last Wednesday I saw pictures of Ethan Kirkpatrick at his homecoming talk after serving a mission in Toulousse France. It made me kind of sad and "trunky" (aka thinking of home) because it's been two years since I've seen my best friend and for the first time he was at home and I wasn't... and wouldn't be for another year! This was a hard reality to accept. However, the good that came from this sadness was having me reevaluate why I am out here serving a mission. I thought back on why I was willing to sacrifice so much to come out here.
I also had a very heart to heart conversation with one of the other sister missionaries and I realized that the Lord has so much left for me to do out here, so many wonderful things. He has given me my personality and talents to do his work. I am one of his fearless leaders and I can do extraordinary things. Therefore, it makes sense that Satan is going to put as much opposition in my way as possible.
Sister Pipes directed my thoughts to the opposition Jospeh Smith faced before the first vision.
In the Joseph Smith History 1:16-17 we read,
 16 But, exerting all my powers to acall upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into bdespair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of clight exactly over my head, above the brightness of the dsun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
17 ...When the light rested upon me I bsaw two cPersonageswhose brightness and dglory defy all descriptionestanding above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My fBeloved gSon. Hear Him!
Joseph Smith was at the end of his rope. He was frightened and ready to surrender. He had done all that he could. It was only after he endured that the Lord delivered him from that trial and was blessed exceedingly. In life we must face trying and hard times to receive the incredible blessings the Lord is ready to give us. I already had a testimony of Moroni's words about the trial of our faith from Ether 12:6,
 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that afaith is things which are bhoped for and cnot seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no dwitness until after the etrial of your faith.
However, now my understanding is deeper and stronger :)
Ever since this conversation on Wednesday I've felt a tremendous sense of peace. The spirit has been with me in rich abundance. I know I am exactly where the Lord wants and needs me to be. I have learned so much in this week alone!
I was spirtually fed at zone conference as well. I will get to that more when I talk about Friday. The last thing I want to mention before I tell the details from my week is about the phases of missionary work. I've decided that for my mission there are three phases. 
Phase One (first 6 months)
  • getting adjusted to life as a missionary
  • trying to apply everything you learned at the MTC and your knowledge about the gospel
  • finding the courage and strength to really step outside your comfort zone
  • getting used to the routine of missionary service
Phase Two (months 6-12)
  • you are more confident in the work
  • you are ready to step up your game and magnify your calling
  • you know how things go and you are an example to others
  • more reliant upon the spirit
  • excel in your efforts
Phase Three (months 12-18)
  • confidence in being an instrument in the Lords hand
  • the realization that your mission is winding down
  • trying to stay focused and finish strong
  • soaking in everything the Lord still wants you to learn
  • and more things that I'm not aware of because I'm not in this phase yet! lol
So right now I have entered phased two! Let's do it =)
On to the details of my week.
Thursday August 23rd
I got my hair cut and my eyebrows waxed by a member in the spanish ward. The spanish sisters were there to translate for me. Luckily I trust sister Ortega or she could have told the lady to do something crazy to my hair! ;) I love having my eyebrows shaped nicely! It's such a treat. The woman was so kind and did three of us for free! First hair cut I've had since the MTC...
We had a really great lesson with Joe that afternoon with Joe and the spanish sisters. It was great having them there because we were able to dig deeper and address some of his concerns.
That night we had dinner with the Johnson family! It was a marvelous time. They are a wonderful family. Everytime we go over we laugh a lot and we are also able to share more about the gospel and feel the spirit. Talk about the best of both worlds.  When we were there we tried to decide what cartoon character each of us were/which best matched our personality. Elder Stratton decided I'm Dori from Finding Nemo!
Friday August 24th
In the morning we went to visit with Ethel (who is a recent convert). I love visiting with her because I always feel the spirit so strong! While we were there the spirit taught me a few new things! I learned that it's not bad to be obedient because we want the blessings. In fact when we seek the blessings Heavenly Father has promised us by being obedient we are actually showing Heavenly Father humility because we are being submissive and that we are seeking his help/blessings.
When someone has a "present" or a blessing for us their intent is to give it to us because they know how happy it'll make us. It is the same way with the Lord. His intention is to give us blessings because he knows how happy it will make us. Therefore, his intention is to always give us the blessings. But he gives them more freely when we show him we want those blessings.
That night we had dinner with Sister Ferguson. I love her. She is basically what my friend Mica will be like in 20 years. lol
It was also my Sister Cj's birthday. Happy birthday CJ!!! I LOVE YOU!
Saturday August 25th
We had a great lesson with one of our member's boyfriend. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we talked about baptism we likened it to getting a new pair of sneakers! Fresh, clean, fun to wear, comfortable, new, etc. He really likes new sneakers =) We had been talking a lot about enduring to the end or in other words staying on the road that leads us back to God after we've entered the gate of baptism. Those new sneakers are what will help us stay on that path while the Holy Ghost is cheering us on, motivating us to keep going. And Jesus Christ has gone a head of us to show us the path or course.
That night we had our ward Jamacian Party! It was a blast! Everyone who came had some jerk chicken and ox tail and danced the night away. Joe came and had a really good time as well.
Sunday August 26th
On Sunday I did a lot of reflecting on the time I have spent in the Kingsbridge 2nd ward. I feel really good about everything I've done to build up the ward.  Heavenly Father blessed me with the ability to see the impact I have made here at this time. I felt the sweet peace and love of the spirit feeling proud of the things I have accomplished here. This is when I started thinking about phases of my mission life. It is very possible at the end of this cycle I could be transfered. If so, I am grateful for everything Kingsbridge has taught me. I will never forget the people here.
Monday August 27th
We spent the majority of the day at Zone Conference with President Morgan and Sister Morgan. In the morning session guest speakers: Elder Dr. Saunders, Sister Saunders. To break up the day we had lunch and a training workshop. The afternoon session included the Morgans and President Rudd.
Zone Conference is always so uplifting and so tiring! =)
The main thing I want to share from Zone Conference. President Morgan introduced our new theme. Each mission president is asked to decided on a theme that they will embrace for their three year duration as mission president. After a lot of thought and prayer the Morgans decided upon LOYAL TO THE CORE. I am so stoked about this theme! To break it down a little bit for you, there had been a lot of talks on Courage, Obedience, Reverence, Effort.  I had already been trying to demenstrate Courage and Obedience in the work. I am very excited to implement a higher level of Reverence in everything I do as a missionary. As for effort I had been trying to do this by focusing on Diligence. Sometimes diligence can be an overwhelming word to me lol. However, when I realize I just need to put in my best effort I am better able to invest myself.
Tuesday August 28th
Happy 21st Birthday Jill and Janice!!!
We had District Meeting since Monday was Zone Conference. I taught the training and we focused on how important the role of the Book of Mormon is. I am so grateful to have the Book of Mormon in my life.
A question that I asked my district that I want each of you to take the time to answer
"How has the Book of Mormon influenced your testimony of Jesus Christ?"
We had such a spiritual lesson with someone we contacted last week. She is remarkable! I am learning how to more effectively teach people and not lessons.
I have really seen the Lord bless me this past week. This week I have seen the Lord bless everything about the work. It is truly amazing! I love being a missionary. If I am being Loyal to the Core all I have to do is open my mouth, be myself, and everything else falls into place. Those who have been prepared by the Lord will come forth. =)
I am so grateful for this chance to serve. I challenge each of you to make a change in your life to be more LOYAL TO THE CORE =)
I love you!
Sister Emily Johnson
p.s. today we are going to the top of our zone to go to a Michaels (talk about heaven!) and to eat at Wendy's!!! It's going to be a beautiful day. And we already did our laundry and cleaned our apartment.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Aug. 22nd

Hello again family and friends!

Another week has come and gone. I love having P-day on Wednesdays because between Wednesday and Sunday the week is broken up nicely.

Elder Hayward is in my zone now. He is from Mesa, AZ and I actually sat next to him the day I flew to Utah to enter the MTC.  Dad he was the one you called and told me about.

We see a lot of funny and odd things here in the Bronx. One of the things that made me laugh this last week was when we were passing all the people that hangout in the street on the evenings. There are always a lot of people chilling on 197th and Briggs Ave. Anyhow, the other day when we were heading back to our apartment we saw a man sitting in a stroller! Haha they usually have chairs, even a couch, but I was not expecting the baby stroller to be the newest addition of their furniture collection.

Saturday was awesome because we went tracting in a new area. I truly believe no other missionaries have been in that area because it it on the very edge of our border and tucked away. It was beautiful! The day we went the weather felt like San Fransisco. The duplexes were raised up and there was a lovely breeze coming in from the Harlem River. We had a lot of success in the people we talked to.

Sunday I had a very spiritual conversation with one of the elders recent converts. She is someone near and dear to my heart.  

Shout out
Thank you Tristan for the beautiful letter!

I love you!

Sister E. Johnson

Ok, I promised to tell my search and rescue metaphor
This is the BREAK DOWN
When I think of a child lost camping i focus on how scared, cold, sad, or lonely they must feel. Thinking about their situation leads me to brainstorm effective methods of finding [ward member finds-rescue team, not one person]
Then we put into action how we can work together to find.  There is a mutual concern for the lost
[action=ward mission plan]
When we find them we rejoice. It's a boost of faith (new investigators) They are not home yet but are close.
When we bring them back to the family (or part of the fold) we rejoice!
[Baptism. Joining the ward family. Celebrate with food! lol]
When we see everyone as CHILDREN of God our hearts are softened. We are filled with love and compassion. We stop at no cost to bring them safely home.

One thing I noticed at our ward picnic a few weeks ago was how much love our ward members have for the children in the different families.  I love the children in our ward. If any of them were to get lost (in the trees at Van Courtland Park or in the streets of the Bronx) I would be one of the first people to stop at no cost to seeing them safely home. I love each of them so much! I would sacrifice whatever was needed to do my part in bringing them safely home.  They are children: innocent, loving, selfless, honest... and we know how dark, scary, and evil the world can be.

So why then is there a disconnect with bringing the Lord's children out of the evil/dark world?  Physically they may look like experienced campers who enjoy and want to stay in the world.  But what we can't see is that each and everyone of them spiritually is another child in our ward family but is lost and crying out for help in the wilderness.

Sometimes it's easy to put off sharing the gospel, but if we remember the worth of a soul to the Lord we will find that our priorities shift.
For example there is a family in my ward who I love with a four year old named Baily. Her dad works on Wall Street. I bet if Baily went missing he wouldn't say, "Oh I want to help find Baily but I am just really bust on Wall Street right now. I'll look later."
That's not good enough. It could be too late later.
It becomes a "Family Emergency" I know the ward family would pull together and do everything that they could to give and help despite their busy lives.
That's because when we have charity we are acting on the pure love of Christ.  When we act on it we invite the spirit into our lives to give us extra strength and the physical ability to do what is required of us.
And on top of all that we NEVER regret it. We never look back on the time spent to see a family with distraught/worried parents reunited with their children. That kind of peace and joy brings satisfaction. That satisfaction is the kind that comes from missionary work as well. It comes from seeing our siblings taking that step of baptism to be on the path that leads back to our Heavenly Father. What a beautiful and uplifting thing to witness!

I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord's true church.  With all the knowledge that we have gained from the restoration it is our duty and obligation to FIND the Lord's children. They are suppose to be with us, but they are lost.

I'm raising my voice and warning to our ward out here in Kingsbridge, but it applies everywhere.  We have a FAMILY EMERGENCY. Our children are missing. They are scared and lonely. We need to find them.

One by one (one at a time-not overwhelming)
 Effective Finding (Gordon B. Hinckley quote below)
Making plan-ward mission plan
All of us doing our part
Prioritize, Worth of the soul
Stop at no cost
We are given the Strength from the Lord
The reward/end result will be more satisfying or joyful than anything else you could ever imagine

“So many of us look upon missionary work as simply
tracting. Everyone who is familiar with this work
knows there is a better way. That way is through
the members of the Church. Whenever there is a
member who introduces an investigator, there is
an immediate support system. The member bears
testimony of the truth of the work. He is anxious
for the happiness of his investigator friend. He
becomes excited as that friend makes progress in
learning the gospel.
The process of bringing new people into the Church is not the
responsibility alone of the missionaries.
They succeed best when members become the source from 
which new investigators are found” (Ensign,May 1999, 105–6).

I will be BOLD but LOVING in saying We Need Your Help.
The effectiveness and the strength of missionary work lies within each of you.  We need to coordinate efforts through the ward mission plan, be unified together, and finally seek the Lord individually about how you can better help find those he is preparing for you.
I promise you if we each step up our efforts to find and teach our brothers and sisters about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ we will not only have the extra strength given to us to do everything on our plate, we will feel the satisfaction and joy of doing the Lord's work in rich abundance.

This all flowed into my head as I sat down to write the break down. i had been saying a really meaningful prayer when I thought of the concept of us being a search and rescue team. I feel like the Holy Ghost uses this tactic where he'll give you the thought or concept, but we wont actually get the depth of what we are suppose to learn unless we decide to crack it open.
The concept/idea is like an egg. When we write down/crack open when has already been given to us on a surface level, the goop of the egg spills forth like the inspiration yoke that ran into my brain! haha

As I thought more about this analogy, this work is very time sensitive. We need to find these children. There are a lot of harmful and bad things that could reach them before we do and it could be too late.

I feel like the Lord has revealed to me a fragment of the urgency he feels towards his work and the importance of acting now.
I was also reminded of this last General Conference when Jeffery R. Holland shared about Labors in the Vineyard about how there is still time, but to hurry because it's getting late.
"It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late."

I'm so grateful my humble and honest prayer yielded such beautiful insight. The Lord promises to reveal line upon line. This evening when I had all of this come to me he gave me 12 pages! (in my small spiritual notebook) haha =) So if we want it more than a line at a time he will give us more. But we have to want it. I've found that the Lord is really able to teach me things as I am writing them down and digging deeper.
I received these things during my evening prayers. Then during the following day I was studying in my personal study in Matthew 13:11 when the disciples ask the Savior why he speaks in parables. He tells them, "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given."
This helped me understand that the way I will come to know more about the mysteries of God will most likely be through parables, metaphors, and analogies.
Those are the times I feel like I understand most the things of the Lord.  The Lord has plenty of ways to teach us about his mysteries, but those who don't dig deeper-or who aren't looking-will miss it. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 15th

Hey lovely friends and family.
Elder Soresen in my zone is being kind and letting me use the computer before him. I have been waiting most of the day as missionaries alternate trying to get a chance to use the two computers we have here at the chapel, while also hanging out with the other missionaries.
Today was a big transfer!!!
All but six companionships in the 150ish missionaries (70 some companionships) are being affected by this transfer! Three of those companionships come from our zone and two of them are in our apartment! Our zone has drastically changed.
We had some amazing missionaries leave today. It's really hard to see them go.
President Morgan has also changed the way transfers have happened.
It's been a positive change. Before we used to gather in the parking garage underneath the church and the missionaries got a bit roudy. However, now they take place in the chapel and have a dignified and spiritual manner. It was really uplifting. President Morgan really cares about his sacred call as our mission president and he is implementing positive changes that the spirit has impressed upon his heart. Also, he is hilarious! He has the perfect balance between having the spirit and cracking jokes :)
As I strive to be more obedient I see the Lord blessing the work and inspiring my mind. I have been seeking to know more about the mysteries of God and the Spirit is teaching me =)
Well I'm going to let Elder Sorensen have his time on the computer.
I love all of you!!!
Thanks for the constant support (mom, david, and dad thank you for the letters!)
Sister Emily Johnson

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My 6 month mark! (August 8th)

Today is my 6 month mark in the mission, which means I just have to repeat everything I've done two more times! haha just kidding. It's not quite like that. It's realizing that everything I have done so far has prepared me and taught me things to help me excel in the mission field with only one year left.  Everything from this point forward means I have less than a year to make this count!

Today I am limited on the computer at the library. Let me get out the highlights!

Friday Aug. 3
Stayed up late decorating our apartment with two of the other sisters to surprise Sister Pipes on Saturday for her birthday! It was a lot of fun. We even took a picture poster of Justin Beiber and taped it to the chair. We said it could be here birthday breakfast date. I also said she could pretend it was Enrica if she wanted. I forget his name, but it's the spanish version of Justin Beiber

Saturday Aug 4

The ward picnic was a Blast!
  • Sister Pipes birthday
  • Yassmin's birthday
  • I climbed a tree =)
  • super humid!
  • Sister Britton did awesome facepainting
  • I got to spend a lot of time talking to members of the ward
  • I also realized how much I love throwing a football back and forth, as well as a baseball when I'm wearing a mit! I'm pretty athletic =D after the elders teach me some of the techniques.
Sunday Aug. 5th
Sister T's birthday
I received a lot of spiritual guidance. I fasted for a few things. One of the things was for the people the Lord is preparing in NY. I was inspired by the spirit about a really cool analogy. I shared it in testimony meeting. I'll write what it is next week when I have time. It's about how our ward is like a search and rescue team.
Also, I got a package from my mom. Thanks mom!

Monday Aug. 6
That night I was talking to our investigator Joe on the phone. He told me to tell my family not to worry about me; he's got my back! lol
I got a letter from Tristan =)

Tuesday Aug. 7th
Legit day!
We taught some less active members, had some appointment with active members, had a couple of people feed us, and ended the day reading from the Book of Mormon with Joe. He is really relating to Nephi and loves the courage he has!

I love you all very VERY much! 
I'm sorry this is short but I'll talk to you next week.

Sister E. Johnson

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July 26-Aug 1st

Hello :)

I'd like to start off by sharing something that stood out to me yesterday in personal study as I was reading the Book of Mormon. It's in 1 Nephi 3:15
It's as Nephi is telling his brothers that they can not return to where there father is until they have obtained the brass plates from Laban.

"15 But behold I said unto them that: aAs the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have baccomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us."

It occurred to me how applicable this scripture is as a missionary! I literally cannot return home until I've accomplished the things the Lord has commanded me.
In my situation it is to Preach the Gospel to the people here in NY. Knowing this I feel encouraged to invest my whole heart in the work and loose myself to make the very most of this time I am serving.

So last week my goals failed! They were to generic about using time well.
This week I reamped my goals to make them specific and something to lock my mind on.
  • Be bold/specific about commitments
  • Be clear about expectations
  • Be out going/list to the spirit to find News (the elect news)
  • Pure love of Christ
Companion goals
  • Alternate teaching points
  • Hold each other accountable to be the best we can be.

Thursday July 26th
We had a dinner (cottage meeting) at the Johnson's place. They are basically my family... if my family were black =)
Ok so it's just our name in common, but they are wonderful! Our investigator was able to come last minute which was great. The food was delicious! When we left there it was raining/pouring down.  Two of the elders walked us home. The other two walked their recent convert to the train stop. The ones who walked home with us let us use their umbrellas! It was very kind of them.

Friday July 27th

It was a very busy day. During the blitz we split and I got to be with Sister Ortega. We used the rest of the day to do look ups.

Saturday July 28th

There was a phone outreach activity at the church with the ward. We have around 800 names on our ward list but hardly any of them come. We all split up the list and made phone calls inviting people out to the ward picnic we're having this upcoming Saturday (Aug. 4th).  We were also crossing out numbers that were disconnected or didn't work. We also updated information when we were able to get a hold of people. It was great to be able to feel like we made a dent in the ward list and knowing who is actually still there.  From what I heard we got through the whole list, or very close to! Yay for teamwork :)

During the lunch part of this activity our investigator Joe showed up. I decided to just include his name. I don't think he'll mind.  We weren't suppose to see him for a few hours, but he decided he was going to hangout at the chapel for a few hours. It was sweet though because he ended up shooting some hoops with some of the ladies in our ward!
Before he showed up I was talking to Sister Newsome in my ward (who reminds me of my mom!) We talked about helping investigators understand the importance of reading, praying, and coming to church.  We continue to promise blessings, but they have to use their agency to act.  She made this connection that I thought was way cool! She said it's like trying to describe what a strawberry tastes like! It is so delicious and sweet, but they will never know until they try it.
After that I was feeling some what sick. We went home early and I slept for the rest of the night.

Monday July 30
We got back to work and taught three other lessons and one member present lesson. We tracted a new street during the day which was a lot of fun. Later we taught Joe at the church with Brother and Sister Britton. They are great! I am going to miss them very much.

Today, Wednesday August 1st

Sister T. got permission to come to Kingsbridge to pick up some stuff. When she was here I had her dye my hair for me/ color my roots. I use the Revlon Color Silk box color shade 03
After that I went home (she did it at the church) to wash it out of my hair and hurry back for our zone activity. We had a BBQ at the church. Originally we were going to have it at the park but it's been raining today. There were burgers, hot dogs, chips, watermelon (I brought), muffins, and cookies (my companion made).
It was delicious! We've been here at the chapel since then. Some of us have been having a rubber band war and shooting them at each other (when we are with just missionaries). So that was a big part of today. Another thing is I started writing a song on the piano! With lyrics too. We'll see how it continues to develop.

On July 27th I made this list
Sister Johnson's Key to Missionary Work
  • Smile
  • Talk to People
  • Follow impulses/promptings
  • * Laugh often
  • * Become best friends with everyone in the Bronx! =)
  • Share simple truths/promise blessings
If I do these the work and time will be well spent

I feel like there was something else I was going to include. However I do not remember what it was. I love you all! That's if for this week.
Also thank you Mica, Tristan, and Mom for the letters =)

Sister Emily A. Johnson