Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 21st - March 27th

This has been a crazy week!
We celebrated Hermana Keanini's birthday! There was a baptism! And I've been sick and waking up during the night with a burning sore throat.  It has been a busy week but one full of memories. Today we are going to the city! The Rockefellar Center to see some ice skating. Our Relief Society President's daughter is in it. We don't know that much about it except that we are excited to go!
NEWS: It has been announced that we are now allowed to email anyone outside of our mission boundaries. This is something the brethren of the church have announced. This means friends, family, extended family, neighbors, whoever, can now email me. So if there is anyone that you know that is dying to email me, their prayers have been answered lol.
Here are the HIGHLIGHTS:
Thursday March 21st:
Our investigator cleared her baptismal interview! We got the offical thumbs up/clear/green light. Whatever you would call it, we got it =)
Friday March 22nd:
Happy Birthday Annie!  Hermana Keanini, from Hawaii, lives in our apartment and it was her birthday as well. We surprised her! We celebrated Hermana Keanini's birthday that morning with a hideous homemade Mexican pinata! We bought it from a Mexi mart. It was totally authentic =) That thing was a solid rock! We didn't really have many options for where to tie it so we tied it next to the wall where there was a loop. It was funny because she would hit it one swing and the wall the next. What ended up happening was Sister Awerkamp and I each held one end while Nini beat it's back. We were all laughing pretty hard.
Also that night we had an appointment with one of our investigators who's the neighbor of our member (Johnson family). We hadn't been able to see him in a few weeks so it was nice to follow up with him on the commitments we extended. We changed his baptismal date to May 4th but he is still working towards it =)
Saturday March 23rd:
Happy Birthday Seth. My present to you is Mary getting baptized! haha ok maybe not. But at least I was fully engaged in missionary work when I couldn't be with you to celebrate. 
It was a hectic day! We had a lot to do, but when it was all said and done the baptism went great! Mary loved it  =) She had to go under three times! Her dad was the one baptizing her. After the second time she said, "Don't bring me back up until everything is under!" haha.  Saturday is when I first started getting sick.
Sunday March 24th:
Mary was confirmed a member of the church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost!
Later we had an appointment with Sandra Hurley. She is a member we are helping prepare to go to the temple! She's working towards April 20th for the day she goes through the temple =)
Then I rested for part of the day to fight off getting sick. The Denison's who I served with in Kingsbridge live in our building and they are so sweet! They came by to see if everything was ok (they knew I was sick) and they let us have some left overs. They had just fed the missionaries from Kingsbridge. It was Hawaiian haystacks! (one of my favorites!)
Monday March 25th:
We got Mary's baptism record submitted to the mission office. I ended up sleeping part of the afternoon, which unfortunately made it really hard for me to sleep that night. After District Meeting (which Sister Awerkamp did a great job on the training) I got a priesthood blessing from Elder Ordaz.
Tuesday March 26th:
ZONE CONFERENCE! It was awesome seeing some of the other missionaries that I love =)
I love getting together with other missionaries and the mission president. I always learn so much!
The things I took away from it include: using the teaching pamphlets in following up as well to rekindle the feelings and thoughts they had from the previous lesson (when we discussed the pictures the first time). Also, using the follow up as an opportunity to assess or discern their concerns. 
We had dinner at the Hippen home! They are the greatest! We have them every Tuesday night and I always love starting off P-day when we leave there. This time she made a truffle cake for dessert and it was simply divine!
Today Wednesday March 27th:
I slept through the night last night! It was so nice!
Well I've got to attach some pictures and head out, but I hope you know how much I love you.
My testimony of Christ is burning stronger each day. It's been kind of hard being sick because I haven't studied as much as I would have liked to or needed to. But I know the Lord is mindful of me and my situation. I am excited to dive in and study about his final week that represents so much this Easter season.
Sister Emily Johnson
This Thursday and Friday Sister Awerkamp and I get to be office sisters! We're excited =) Mostly it's because the office couples will be at different zone conferences.
Sunday is EASTER! What a special time to be teaching about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
The April 6th and 7th is General Conference! This will be my third and last general conference on the mission.  It's surreal. I'm excited to hear them report on all that has happened since President Monson made the announcement of the age change this past October!

This is going to be short

I apologize that I can't write more today.
I love you All!
This has been a hectic week and it's still kind of crazy. I don't have much time to email but I want you to know that you have been such a blessing in my life. 
Thank you for your examples to me. I am fighting the good fight and I'm trying to do what the Lord would have me do.  We might be having a baptism this Saturday. We still haven't quite worked out the details. We have to wait on a few things so everything is up in the air right now.
Mom thank you for the packages to Sister Awerkamp and I.
Tristan thank you for your package!

Sister Emily Johnson

Sister Awerkamp and I made our own St. Patrick's Day meal! We made pork chops, (green) mash potatoes, pork gravy and salad! I cooked the pork chops and gravy and she made the mash potatoes...and I ate the mash potatoes! Are you proud of me?

 Monday night we had a freak snow storm that came out of nowhere! We were at Natasha's place and when we left the roads were crazy! We were able to drive home safely but I definitely had Sister Awerkamp say a prayer in the car.

Also Sister Awerkamp spotted this awesome sign while I was driving! He had seen it before so we made sure to stop and take pictures.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Thurs. March 7th - Wed. March 13th

Thursday March 7th:
The elders that we serve with started riding bikes on the days they don't have the car. It was snowing a lot on Thursday. We met Elder Aagard and Elder Rydalch at the church to discus some details for our branch. Since Elder McCullam went home we wanted to get on the same page. Elder Rydalch is a new missionary from Oakley UT.  We were suppose to have a dinner with them but the dinner canceled because of the bad weather. We all went to McDonalds. We did a lot of stop and go as the elders biked there. We'd go a certain amount in our car and then pull over until they past us. We have a lot more respect for the elders because of their ability to ride their bikes in bad weather.  We are kind of jealous we don't get to ride bikes because it'd be a great work out. Yonkers has a lot of hills and their breaks don't work very well.

Friday March 8th:
My 13th month mark was a snow day! haha well at least the first half of the day was. We watched Legacy and Together Forever as an apartment. When we got the all clear we went back to our scheduled day. Natasha, a recent convert, came with us to do some look ups in Tarrytown. The person we came to see wasn't home so we made our way up the street. I was able to help shovel the sidewalk for this guy who looked tired. A little ways into my time shoveling my lower back muscles really started to ache! haha so I had a good reminder that we should be in our best physical shape so we can serve anywhere and anyhow the opportunity is presented.  I pushed through and finished the job I started.
After we dropped Natasha off back in Elmsford where she lives and works (it's near to Tarrytown) we decided to tract a little further up her street. It was very cold, but I felt the warmth of the spirit burning within me. The sunset was magnificent and the colors seemed so vibrant as we went door to door. We mostly talked to Spanish people but I was able to get contact information for two of the Spanish individuals to give to the elders in that area.  I also saw a lawn that had flamingos in it and it reminded me of my mom being reminded of my Aunt Barb! haha even though her flamingo incident was a long time ago I know that my mom always thinks of her. So now I guess I do too! But it's funny to have a silly reminder of family members you love.
We went by the home of a less active woman from the Dominican Republic who lives in our branch.  Her siblings and mom are members but her husband and kids are not. She is such a sweet lady. She let us in and we visited for a while. We scheduled a time to come back Monday. She wants to feed us =)

Saturday March 9th:
We went to the church to work on some information for the branch and Sister Awerkamp practiced the piano. Later we went to pick up Bailey Fillmore. She is our branch president's daughter.  She came with us to the Nelson's apartment (the Nelson's are the branch mission leader and his wife from AZ!) We picked a song to practice to sing in sacrament on Easter Sunday. Following that we had dinner and correlation. Then Bailey came with us to our appointment with a funny black lady from the branch who we are helping to prepare to go to the temple. We visited her two weeks ago. It was a neat experience because we had some thoughts about potential concerns she might have or things that could come up, but the Lord had prepared her in between our visits because she was way ahead of what we had prepared. It was neat to see! She also kept making comments that we couldn't help but laugh at. For example she was talking about how she had seen the elders street contacting in Getty Square and there was also a person preaching on the other side of a square with a bull horn. She said how all the people were leaving the guy with the bull horn and coming to the Mormons! The Elders were "kicking it!" =) She was so funny! Also, she set a date to prepare for. She's going to the temple April 20th!

Sunday March 10th:
It was a hopping day at church! There were a lot of people there that we had been trying to work with at church. It was a beautiful sight! Our investigator Mary who is getting baptized next week was there as well. After church we had Linger Longer (2nd Sunday of every month). It's always a treat! (no pun intended)  As linger longer was wrapping up Mary had a seizure =( We found out though that she has seizures every two months or so and she takes medication for it. Her daughter knew what to do and we got an ambulance there asap. They took her to the hospital to check out her vitals. She was released later that night.  During the day we went with Natasha to visit a lot of people. We were able to visit a less active member (we read from the Book of Mormon with her). Then we saw Herbert and Shirley (potential investigators), the Simmons(Active members), and we visited Mary (investigator) right before she got released.

Monday March 11th:
As an apartment we are doing a sweets fast where we are off of sweets for one month. People here feed us so many treats and we hardly walk at all. In the city I could maintain it, but here, not so much haha. Anyways there are some rules we decided on. One of the rules is that you can have one sweet once a week (minimal serving). I got a weird ear ache on this day. It was kind of a boring day but we were able to help one of the less active young woman prepare a talk that she has been asked to give Sunday on the Young Women value Knowledge. All of the Young Women are speaking in sacrament meeting. 

Tuesday March 12th:
We were able to visit a lot of people. One of which we were able to talk the visiting teacher with us. It helped us out and it helped her as well. Highlight/embarrassing moment of the day:
We were visiting a less active woman and while we were there we were talking to her. She had been playing Monopoly with someone in the background. I asked, "Oh is that your son?" Her response, "My daughter..." The girl was right there and could definitely hear me and she just looked at me. I tried my best to repair the situation (even though the woman is already a little awkward) I said something about how I saw the short hair and assumed but then I realized I've had short hair before. We quickly moved forward in the conversation.  To give you a better idea of how awkward this situation is, the daughter although where what look like boy pajamas, was 20 yrs old!!! YIKES! She looked more like 17-18 though. hahah it was just so embarrassing. Regardless I think the mom is going to ride the bus with us to church this week! 
We rapped up the night at dinner with the Hippen family (as usual) and they are one of my favorite families! They are the best and are what I hope my family is like in the future!

Wednesday March 13th:
I love you! Today is kind of a crazy day. We need to go change our clothes into the dryer. Later we are meeting the zone at the Scarsdale chapel for zone activities! Volleyball, soccer and making Horchata.

I love you!!!
Sister Emily Johnson

Transfer P-day

Thursday February 28th - Wednesday March 6th

With it being the last week of transfer we got fed quite a bit, especially since Elder McCullam is going home.

Thurs. Feb. 28th:
We met up with the Elders to work on somethings for the branch.  Elder McCullum told the Hippen family he would write a song on their ukulele that he would perform his last night.  He had the music of it put together but was stuck on the words.  Which is the exact opposite of my problem =) I wrote some sweet words!  We plan on collaborating on future songs =)
We had dinner with the Altom family. They are the cutest! Plus she made amazing dinner rolls. A funny moment from when we were teaching them about the doctrine of repentance, I asked the son Maddox, who's four, how he knew he needed to tell his mom he was sorry (previously we established that he had told his mom he was sorry). He said,  "Because Heavenly Father told me to."
We looked up a less active member who is very nice :) We had a good lesson with her.

Friday March 1st:
We had dinner with the Johnson family. They have three darling children ( 7yr, 4yrs, and 5months)
We were teaching his good friend Vasu who he met in dental school.  Vasu is doing general dentistry so at dinner it was pretty easy for me to build a good connection with him because we talked a lot about dentistry! I am so grateful I had the chance to work as a dental assistant. It is a fascinating field.  Vasu knows a lot about the church and has recently started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning.  He was raised Hindu but he likes Joseph Smith's first vision.  By the end of our lesson he accepted an invitation to work towards receiving an answer and being baptized on April 6th.  We're seeing him again next Friday after another dinner with the Johnson's. 

Saturday March 2nd:
The elders have been teaching a girl named Natasha.  Despite serve opposition from friends and family, Natasha decided to be baptized. =)  Saturday was Natash's baptism!  It was absolutely wonderful.  We helped the elders get set up and fill up the font.  It was at the Scarsdale chapel. Our branch doesn't have a font.  It was luke warm. We wanted to make it hotter but the kitchen is under construction so there was no microwave, the stove wasn't connected and there were no working faucets. Unfortunately there's wasn't much we could do for the water.  Natasha shared a wonderful testimony afterwards.  I am so excited for her!  In preparing for the baptism we had some oreos and we practiced the song we were writing for the Hippen family.  I really want to take music lessons when I get home so it's easier for me to carry my own note without being influenced by others as I match the notes they sing lol. I pretty much ate sweets this day, which left me with a migraine that night. Oh and when we left the chapel from Natasha's baptism in the evening there was a beautiful snow that had fallen.  It sparkled under the amber parking lot lights 

Sunday March 3rd:
Sunday morning was hard because I still had a bad migraine from the previous night, except now it was fast Sunday.  I decided to pray to see whether or not I should fast this day.  The reason I considered not fasting is because one of the medicines I take makes my sick if I don't eat something first. I had thought about different options: taking some food and medication and then starting my fast or just waiting until I broke my fast to take my medicine with food then.  As I prayed my headache started to leave and I decided I should fast. 
Fast Sundays go pretty fast in our branch because we usually have branch counsel at 8:30am and then church starts at 10:30am. I was especially tired because I didn't sleep well and then Elders played a prank on us and set an alarm on our phone that went off at 2:30am! Not Cool! hah.
It was a struggle to stay focused during church. I felt pretty miserable. 
After church we had two dinner appointments! One with the Fillmore's (Branch president's family) and the Simmons. We were getting together with them to celebrate the Simmons going through the temple and being sealed together.  Sister Fillmore asked us about a month prior if we could help prepare them. Now they are an eternal family! What a blessing.
After eating and drinking again I started feeling better.  Every time I struggle physically fasting I think about how much Christ probably thirsted for a glass of water when he going going through the last few days of His life. Or how sick He must have felt or how He probably had a migraine.  Thinking about the Savior gives me the incentive to hang on a little longer.
The other was with the Johnson family and Natasha came. Sister Johnson is a great cook! She made cheesecake for dessert and it was legit! Afterwards we went to Natasha's apartment to watch the CES Fireside =)

Monday March 4th:
We went to district meeting/zone meeting. I was a little edgy and irritated at the start of this day. I was trying to be patient but I was loosing it. However, I was able to work through it and soften up. One of the things that helped me was reading Elder McCullam's mission experience.  I was proof reading it for him.  He served for a year in Albania but got quite sick and served the second half of his mission here in NY.  He has endured many hardship and trails during his mission service.  Reading his talk touched my heart and helped me reflect on the bigger picture of my mission. What have I experienced and how has that shaped my testimony and character of the person I am today.  It was interesting to think about.  I know the Lord has a plan for me and this service is helping me become everything he needs me to be. Even when it's hard and challenging, each trial is shaping me.  His talk helped me realize I should be grateful for hard days. Also, that if we really understood what people have gone through (because we all face trails-if we could openly read what others have experienced) we would much more willing to love and respect.  That was a good reminder for me because some people in our zone kind of irritate/annoy me a lot haha. However, I remembered that I needed to not look at what's on the outside or how they present themselves, but rather be loving and respectful no matter what. 
We had a dinner with Mary (our investigator) at 5pm and Natasha (recent convert) and 7:30p.m. We were soooo full!

Tuesday March 5th:
It was Elder McCullam's last night. When we were at the Hippen's home for dinner we performed two songs. I wrote the words to both and he wrote the music. I have a video of it, but it is too large to send through email.  I wish I could though, it turned out way good!  

Wednesday March 6th:
Today was transfers.  At the end of the meeting President asks all the missionaries leaving to stand in the front and we sing "Each Life that Touches ours for Good" as the closing hymn.  I couldn't even sing. I just started crying. So many of my wonderful friends were up there and they were all leaving.  It was a hard moment. Afterwards I talked to most of them and that cheered me up.  It was liking having part of my heart leave with them. I know I will be fine, but this is one of my least favorite things  about the mission. Although, I will get to see them all again very soon. :)

That's it for now.
I love you!

Sister Emily Johnson

It was soooo WINDY today!

This is Elder Kerr (who's uncle we refer dental patients to)

Dinner with Mary =)

The Simmons and the Fillmores

Natasha and Elder McCullam


 the McAllisters (they are a senior couple serving here and they let us email on their computers)

 our apartment Hermanas and sisters!