Today is April 24th and as you know last week I didn't have much time, energy, or strength to write anything amazing. So here it is something amazing! lol
The last few days I spent in Yonkers were great but very busy because there was a lot I was trying to accomplish and prepare for the upcoming transfer. Honestly, it feels like that was just a dream (serving in Yonkers) because now that I'm back in the city it's hard to picture me anywhere else. However, I know the things I learned upstate were fundamental to my growth and my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
Sister Crawford, my new companion, is from South Central (Rye) Colorado and is a wonderful missionary! She loves riding horses and working on the farm. She has been well trained and I'm impressed at how much she is on top of things here. We have had some wonderful teaching experiences together so far. The very first lesson we had together was Wednesday night visiting a recently activated woman named Sister Crespo. We retaught the Law of Tithing and Fast Offerings. Although we had never taught together before it felt natural and smooth. It reminded me of the time I spent serving with Sister Maldarizzi. Our first teaching appointment together was very smooth and natural.
The ward I'm in now is the Olmstead second ward. They have their fair share of problems but the improvements they've been making in the past few weeks are tremendous. I am so excited to be a part of the process in strengthening as they continue to improve. We are helping them function and become more unified. A lot of members who move into this area feel that it is not as tight as their previous wards and they feel disappointed and stop coming.
However, as we've been working this week with less active members we have focused on two main things:
1. They are exactly what we need! Pretty much all of our members are converts and we need strong leadership and people with ideas to help make it what it needs to be. Be patient with the ward and help it become what it is capable of being. As the famous quote says, "Be the Change you wish to see in your Ward!" hahaha ok obviously it's the change you wish to see in the world. But when we were at a dinner/lesson with a less active women, she had that quote on her wall and I changed it and said ward. =P
2. Remember the real reason we come to church! To take the sacrament and remember our promises to our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Saturday we went to this fire safety training that was taking place at the church. It was informative and enjoyable. Our Bishop had asked us to come so we did. The retired fireman who talked to us was a joy! So that was random... but moving forward to Sunday I was excited to see for myself what condition the ward was in. Sacrament meeting was interesting but good. One woman who was giving a talk spoke for about 5 minutes top!
Anyways what I want you to know about our sacrament meeting is that at the very end as we had five minutes left the fire alarm went off! After we all moved outside and then made our way back inside once we got the ok our Bishop got up and announced that he had tripped the alarm! haha. He went on the talk about fire safety and how in an emergency we need to be prepared. He also said the reason why he did it during sacrament meeting is because a lot of people leave after that. So he invited everyone to use family home evening this week to make an emergency exit plan.
As missionaries we have been asked to take turns switching around and going to all the different classes each Sunday (R.S., YW, Elders Q. Gospel Principles, Gospel Doctrine,, Primary, etc). I went to Gospel Principles which was really good. Sister White (another missionary) taught the lesson. We had about ten people in the class. A lot of them were recent converts.
Later I went to senior primary with Sister Lee and we taught about the restoration. We didn't end up having time to go back to Relief Society.
I have a lot of wonderful things to say about the ward and I know they will only continue to improve from here.
I'm doing my best to jump into the work in this area. It's really nice being back in an area where one companion already has the inside scoop on what's going on. My legs are having a hard time adjusting to being back in the city! haha they are sore and tight everyday. I'm walking around like an old person. We are also working out every morning at the park near our home. It's so nice to get outside and moving around now that the weather has warmed up! I think I walked more this week then I did the whole time I was in Yonkers! lol
It's really good though. I want to get back in shape.
As for missionary work, it's so nice being in the city where there is so many people for you to talk to! Opening my mouth and sharing the gospel with the people here is coming naturally. Which I am grateful for because when I was upstate it was harder for me to connect with people.
The main people we're teaching right, the people I feel is a big part of why I could be here right now, is Trevor and Jeffrey. Trevor is a less active member who is 13 but definitely mature and focused in coming back to church and strengthening his testimony. Jeffrey is his friend (20) who lives in his building. They are friends and play basketball together! Jeffrey is originally from Africa but has been here since he was eight years old. We taught them last night and they are so easy to talk to and both are really receptive to what we teach. We focused a lot on the Book of Mormon (what it is, why we should read it, likening to ourselves, and finding out if it's true) and the spirit was there so strong! Jeffrey is preparing to be baptized on May 25th. He is definitely on the right track for that to happen. We also talked about the importance of going to church. It's going to be difficult for him to work it out with his mom but he's going to make it happen.
So I have a Eisenhower Silver Dollar that the stake president (Ballard) asked me to give to someone on my mission for them to start their mission fund. When I was in Yonkers it was starting to stress me out because I knew the time was coming and I didn't have any prospects of who I would give it to. Elder Ballard also told me that I would know who to give it to and that he wants to hear about it when I get home. I'm happy to report though that there are two individuals in this area that I feel could be who the Lord wants me to give it to.
The first person that I thought about is a seven year old girl named Madison. Her family is strong in the church but hasn't been coming as much because the mom wishes the relief society was stronger. After visiting with them they committed to come back to church (and they came this Sunday)! Madison is so smart! Apparently she reads her bible all the time. When we asked at the end of our lesson if there was anything else we could do for them she asked if we could read more scriptures. We asked her what she wanted to read. She said either Genesis or the story of Ester! Keep in mind she is seven years old. So we had her read some of Ester to us and we talked about it. She was able to tell us a lot about the story before she even read any of it. She even pronounced all the names right! I asked her when her birthday is (it's in October). and we talked about what she can do this year (BAPTISM!) She said she wanted to be baptized. I asked her why we get baptized. She told me to repent. I am so impressed with how smart she is. We talked a little bit about her serving a mission... or she's definitely a possibility.
The other person I have in mind is Trevor. He's such a great guy/kid (13) and he's really putting his heart into learning more about the gospel and I think he'd be a great missionary one day!
I am grateful to be serving the Lord. The mission experience is so intense and hard to explain. But in the midst of all of it I've come closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. They have been with me through each phase. I know that I have been called by a prophet of God to teach repentance to all people. I know that repentance and humility to accept the will of our loving Heavenly Father is truly the only way to having lasting happiness. We need to trust Him because he knows better and he will help us succeed!
I know that we all have mountains to climb. But I also know that when we talk the path that the Lord has layed out we will be able to not only learn, grow, and cherish our experiences, we will also find ourselves returning to the presence of our Loving Heavenly Father. This I know with all my heart because of how many times the spirit has impressed it upon my heart with urgency while teaching Heavenly Father's children. My deepest hope and desire is that you will read these words and let them stir you up to remember the goodness of our God. That you may not be complacent, but compelled to act, to serve, to love, to obey, to listen, to experience, to taste the sweet joy and endure to the end. This is my humble prayer and I leave it with you in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.
Sister Emily Johnson
Miriam Ortega is coming out to NY in a week and I am soooo excited!
Mother's Day is right around the corner and I'll get to talk to my family!
My short hair
Mary (Recent convert)
Sister Awerkamp's new missionary
Sister Crawford and I