Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12-12-12 Oh Yeah =)

Hello Family and Friends =)

This is a video a member made of the service we did after the hurricane
It is a touching video. I am so grateful he documented this experience because it is such a vivid reminder of the hours I have spent serving there.

I found out I can SKYPE for Christmas! You need to email me and tell me what time would work best for you. We need to coordinate this. I'm pretty flexible but I'm not sure where I'm going to skype yet. Do you want to skype or talk on the phone? Let me know!

I hope you are enjoying this special Christmas season. There are so many feelings, emotions, and memories we can experience during this time of our lives.  It can be some of the richest and warmest times of the year.  It can also be the coldest and loneliest time of the year.  
The magic of Christmas is that Christ can make any Christmas season warm and bright.  He is a everlasting source of light. He can make the broken whole.  He embraces us with a tender warmth of love when we have nothing gentle or strong to turn to or when we are tired of fighting.  He welcomes us into the fold, he desires and longs for us to be there, but He needs us to be humble and let him lead us.
During the new year it is a great time to evaluate and examine our lives. What went well this year? What went poor? Was it in our control or a trial we had no control over? How did we treat others? How have I grown as an individual? What did I do well? What do I want to improve?  Did I spend quality time with those I love most?
There are a lot of questions that we can ask ourselves during this time.
The best way to achieve our new years solution is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is infinite, continuous, divine, and hopeful.  Christ asks us to come as we are and let Him make us new... help us start the process of becoming our best self.

During this season I invite you to:
-prioritize serving others with love
-allow Christ to be an active part of your daily life

Weekly Report:
Wednesday Dec. 5th
We made Pot Stickers with the Chinese Sisters =) I also got a package from Tristan Mouritsen! What a glorious day it was. I was able to hear recordings of his voice and it was so legit! Thanks TAM!!!
I also got a complement from my mission president in our weekly letters that we write to him. He said, "You're a great missionary and I appreciate your dedication."

Thursday Dec. 6th
I had a wonderful day! It started off a little rough, but got much better =) We had a great lesson with one of our investigators (Jeff-see pic)  After the lesson we caroled with other missionaries and a few members! We were giving out free hot chocolate. It was a blast! 
HARLEM MOMENT: When we were caroling in front of the church the police came and arrested a group of people right next to us.  They had the people being arrested lined up against the wall of the church!  Our investigator Jeff was there and actually got a picture of it.  He's going to send it to us but he's checking first with his teacher for his journalism class because he wants to use it in his project.  
The situation in general was a beautiful example of opposition in all things! hahah

Friday Dec. 7th
We started teaching a new investigator who was a referral from the ward.  One of our members had us over and we taught her friend Brendan =) They are both involved in theater! He is a great guy and very prepared for the gospel.  He's already been coming to church a few weeks and has already been reading the Book of Mormon! We are working with him on prayer.  Once he starts doing that he will be on his way to receiving an answer.  He is very funny.  I look forward to teaching him again! We have an appointment for this upcoming Friday!

Saturday Dec. 8th
We went to a pizzeria where my companion has been somewhat teaching one of the workers who is Italian! He didn't have time to when we went this time but we ended up teaching another Italian guy who came into the restaurant! Sister Maldarizzi gave him an Italian Book of Mormon.  There was a lot of weird things that happened later this day.  Nothing extremely significant, but just weird people in this crazy world.  I felt like I was in the lone and dreary world more than normal.  I know that this life is necessary on our way back to our loving Heavenly Father.  Sometimes I don't like having to deal with the other people around me lol, but I know that when God's spirit is within me I know I don't have to worry or be afraid. 
Sunday Dec. 9th 
Sunday was our "Come and See Sunday" The rest of the stake had theirs in November but ours got delayed because of service.
Once a year our stake (NY NY) does a come and see Sunday that is directed in a way that is intended for investigators and non-members to come and see what our church is like.  A lot of people had friends or coworkers come =) After an extended sacrament meeting we had a "Linger Longer" on the fourth floor of our chapel.  There were a lot of pies and desserts and tables set up for people to socialize.  We had three investigators there, one of which was a new guy we met there.  He was invited to church by the Spanish Sisters on the train.  He just moved here from Iran.  
Highlight: Quentin showed up at my ward! Quentin was in some of my institute classes in Flagstaff the semester before leaving on the mission.  He's graduated now and is looking at grad schools for vocal performance!

Monday and Tuesday
were productive and lively! It has been a great way to start off the week!
Today, Wednesday, December 12th, we had a zone Christmas party! It was a blast!!! We played basketball, had lunch, and a gift exchange.  My gift was a funny penguin hat =) I really like it! Thanks to Elder Scaife! 

Something I am trying to make a conscious effort of doing is to take time when I'm journaling and record how I felt about the day. Not necessarily what happened during the day, but rather what I think Heavenly Father wants me to learn from my feelings and experiences of the day.  I have only done this two times now lol, but I am hoping to implement it more.

I am thankful for the love and support I have felt from family, friends, and neighbors. 
Transfers are coming up on the 19th.  I think Sister Maldarizzi will be with me for one more transfer but we will see.
The whole mission is coming together on the 21st for a Christmas party!  I'm looking forward to that =) 


I love you!!!

  Sister Emily Johnson  

A picture of my zone at the christmas party =)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Worst pictures of sandy I've gone to

Side view of first house
Front view of first house
First house

Font view of second house
and side view
that's a bed hanging out

The group I served with this last sunday.  That wasn't the house we served at. No one is currently at that house because it is unlivable.

Fun pictures of helping hands!

The last picture is kind of funny, but not when you realize the reality of it. But look at how much positive attitude I brought into the Queens with me! 

temple and michael's craft

December 5th (two weeks plus spiritual insights)

Hello my dearly beloved family and friends!

I said last week that I would write about the week of Thanksgiving in addition to this weeks information.
I am attempting to highlight the best parts of the past two weeks.

Before I get started with that I want to update you on what is the latest mission news!
As of April 2013 
  • We are expected to have 44 NEW MISSIONARIES in our mission IN ADDITION to the new ones who will be replacing missionaries who will be leaving the field!
  • 22 New Areas will be opened
  • At least 88 missionaries will be training!
  • To cope with the influx of missionaries at least two of the transfers after March will be cut down to 5 weeks instead of the regular 6
This is an exciting time in mission history! I get to be apart of this history =)
This week:  Thursday Nov. 29th - Wednesday Dec. 5th
Thurs. 29th  Our mission president has been reminding us to work more with our bishops so we met with our bishop and ward mission leader. We had a wonderful meeting where we talked more in depth about the work.  We also sought Bishop Blair's direction in how he would like us to serve and focus our energy in the ward. I am excited for the input he had for us and I'm ready to make it happen!  Later that night we had dinner with a lovely member (Abby B.)
Friday 30th  The highlight of the day was when we got together as a zone and contacted on Broadway (near Columbia Uni.)  I didn't have a problem contacting people (stopping them on the street and seeing if they are interested in learning about the gospel) in the Bronx, but I've found it to be more difficult here in the city focused on Young Single Adults because it's entirely different.  However, I felt Friday was my best contacting experience since being in Manhattan! It was exciting.  I remembered how much I love talking to strangers haha
Saturday 1st  A lot of amazing things happened this day.  I had an overwhelming love in my heart for December and the true spirit of Christmas.  Previously I wondered if people would be more receptive to missionaries in December seeing as it is the time when Christ's birth is celebrated.  So far I feel it has made a difference. I'm not sure if that difference has come from other people or if I just feel a stronger need to share the gospel and be bold. Either way I like it and I hope to continue strong throughout this month.  Then come December I'll probably connect to people by talking about their New Years resolutions and tell them how all things are possible through Christ and his grace! hahaha well all righteous things =)  The Gospel is always relevant any time of year!  The best part about Saturday was the Stake Christmas Concert! It was phenomenal! There are so many talented singers and musicians in our stake.  When you think about it, I am living in Manhattan! haha
Sunday 2nd  We went to the chapel to take the sacrament.  After a few thoughts from the bishopric we traveled together to Brooklyn.  From there we took a bus to serve in Far Rockaway Queens.  This was the fourth time that we had the opportunity to serve over there and I loved every second of it. It is so rewarding!  This time we were closer to the beach and we saw some of the houses that are completely trashed. It was such a humbling experience.
Mon. 3rd  For District Meeting I was in charge of the training (the lesson with other missionaries in our area about how we can be better missionaries).  I was really grateful for the way I felt the spirit impress upon my heart the direction of the lesson.  I will share an outline of my lesson below.
Tues. 4th  We had the privileged of going to have a Zone Conference and Training from President Paul V. Johnson (President of the quorum of the 70)  It was such an uplifting and edifying experience.  I am still trying to process everything I learned and felt.  The main points I took away include:
  • Be a High Yielding Low Maintenance Missionary
    • Self Reliant/motivated, hard working, loving, focused, problem solver, enthusiastic, positive affect on others, trusted by members and leadership
    • Remember your potential and don't be a burden
    • Be the trainer parents pray their child (who receives a mission call) will have
  • We can strive to be perfect or to improve but the only way we can truly accomplish this is through the Atonement and grace of Jesus Christ
  • We are given gifts and talents for a reason. Use them in the work. We are called to a certain place at a certain time for a specific reason.
  • Positions in the church (callings) are not equal to our worth. We all have different rolls to fill to get the work done. Heavenly Father needs each of us to embrace who we are and serve with our heart, might, mind, and strength.  
    • When one understand this and accepts it, they can become who the Lord intends for them to be.
  • The only way we are going to learn spiritual things is if we practice.
Furthermore, in preparation to President Johnson coming we were asked to prepare a five minute talk about how the hurricane affected us and how serving there has impacted us in terms of becoming a better missionary.
I wasn't chosen to share my thoughts, so I'm going to share those with you as well! =)
Wed. 5th  After I email I'm going to go make dumplings with the Chinese Sister Missionaries and some other missionaries!
Monday District Training the outline of what I taught:
  • I showed a picture of one of the destroyed homes from the beach on Sunday and asked my district to describe the physical conditions. There are aparent signs of physical distress.
  • Like wise if our body is a temple that houses our spirit how can trails/storms/sin cause destruction to our home?
  • Read Helaman 5:12 and talked about the foundation that Jesus Christ can provide in our lives.  Furthermore, because of that we have something Valuable to offer the world as missionaries.
  • Something the spirit impressed upon my heart as I taught was that we don't know where to start when we see so much destruction. We have no clue how to start the clean up project, but the spirit does! If we will seek inspiration the spirit will help us know what gospel truth they need at that point.  Furthermore we need to be aware and mindful of everyone's internal trials/storms of distress. As we slow down and LISTEN with love the spirit will teach us what it is they need.
  • Main objective:review the importance of asking inspired questions
My five minute talk about the hurricane:
  • In an address to the NY NY North Mission Elder D. Todd Christofferson notes the nature of Christ and His ability to love comes largely from His constant service and rending to those in need.  As I have had the great privilege serving in the Rockaways I have seen people in great need.  As I have served them selflessly I have felt the spirit confirm to me the immense love that our Heavenly Father has for each individual child.
  • While reflecting on my experience serving there the past four weeks I realized I have loved it because
    • Service is a way to feel closer to God.  King Mosiah taught that "...when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17)
    • We serve selflessly because we hope that others "...may see our good works, and glorify our Father which is in Heaven" (Matthew 5:16)  The word glorify is the verb of glory which means, "1. Great honor; renown 2. Adoration; praise 3. Magnificent splendor" The response of the community in Rockaway has been just that. Each time I served there I received praise, love, and honor from the community as they spoke words of deep gratitude for our good works and devotion in helping their community get back on their feet.  I sincerely believe the praise and gratitude they feel for all those wearing the yellow Mormon Helping Hands vest will lead them to glorify our Father which is in Heaven.
    • While discussing the condition of the demolished housed during Monday's district training the spirit directed Elder Lee's thoughts to understand that because of the fall of Adam we are all in a fallen/broken state. We are all in need of rebuilding and help.  The difference is that as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have the tools necessary to begin the rebuilding process.  The tool is access to the atonement of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority.  It is our job and responsibility to share the tools with others.  

Last week:  Thursday Nov. 22nd - Wednesday Nov. 28th
Thurs. 22nd  We had three dinners!  One with an elderly man from the English family ward, one from a member our young single adult ward, and one with a family in the Spanish ward.  The best part was when we were at our member's house we were able to teach a lesson to a women who is not a member of the church but who just moved into town. It was a great lesson!
Sat. 24th  We served in Far Rockaway.  It was wonderful to help break down dry wall and take out installation.  The Jamacian man who owned the home commented on what a good job we were doing. I told him "I think it's fun! My parents would never let me do this. This was a special circumstance." =) Every time I have been able to serve I feel the Lord has helped me lighten the spirits of those who have been affected. For that I am grateful!
Sunday 25th  I enjoyed church a lot! I felt the Lord was speaking to me.  Sister Maldarizzi was able to teach some Italian visitors about the Gospel =)
Mon. 26th  I received a blessing of comfort from my District Leader.  I love receiving blessings from someone holding the priesthood. I always love feel so aware of the love Heavenly Father has for me!  Afterwards we went to have our last lesson with Luis.  He has been such a great investigator to teach! He is getting baptized at home over Christmas break.  Because Luis already has a great knowledge of the gospel we were able to teach all the commandments in one lesson.
Wed. 28th  I loved going to the temple =)  After our session at the temple I took Sister Maldarizzi to a Michael's Craft Store! I found on in our area.  I knew she would love it!!! And I was right =) hahah

I pray that this Christmas season you may feel the true spirit of Christmas, which is in Christ!
I didn't get to hear the Christmas devotional live but I am listening to it right now and it's is fabulous! If you didn't see it/hear it you should check it out!
Sister Emily Johnson