Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Making progress

Hello again =)
The good news is I'm getting more settled here in CT and I'm getting to know the wards better. The work seems to be picking up. There is a lot I'm trying to focus on and naturally I'm getting fat again being in a car and having members feed us delicious sweets that I don't want to turn down =P
I've been having a hard time adjusting to a new companion and a new area, covering two wards, and trying to communicate clearly. I was feeling so overwhelmed. I actually started to realize how much I was struggling when I reread the conference talk Being Accepted By The Lord from the last General Conference. I recognized that I needed the Lord closer to me in my life. I needed to feel His love more abundantly.  That night I received a blessing from my district leader Elder Monteirth. It was so amazing to see the Lord's love manifest through one of His humble servants. The blessing was exactly what I needed! It's given me the counsel and comfort I need to press forward and stay focused on the task at hand.  I am so grateful for the priesthood on the earth today =)

This past Sunday was awesome because Matt Holland (Elder Holland's Son!!!) spoke in our singles ward (and the two family wards that meet in the Stamford building). His voice is very similar to his dad! It was unreal. Also he is pretty funny! He was a little more laid back then his dad but still very spiritual =)
He gave examples of three passages in the scriptures where the Savior healed people by telling them to arise. He talked a lot about RISING UP and being who the Lord wants us to be.
This included:
Education: developing our minds and our hands in a skill that we love. Seeking as much education as we can! Always seeking to become better and be able to share the gospel with those in our sphere of influence.
I know he shared a few other examples about ways in which the Lord wants us to Rise Up, but I am mixing it in my mind with the talk I read in the June Ensign about moving forward with faith. It is a marvelous talk about avoiding getting stuck in Round-a-bouts!
I recommend this talk to anyone that is hoping to move forward in their life =)

Saturday we were able to teach a few people. Some were less active members, others were people we met in the community, and one was an investigator the sisters just started working with before I came into the area. Sunday we had three investigators come to church! One was the investigator we visited the day before and she came to the New Canaan ward. The other two were Ines and Gilberte (French speaking from Africa) and they went to the family ward in Stamford.  I was excited about that =)

At some point I found another talk I LOVE from this months Ensign!

I recommend it to everyone!
Something I'd didn't fully understood before reading this talk is the concept about Aligning our Will with the Father when we pray,
"The Savior repeatedly commanded that we “must always pray unto the Father in [the Lord’s] name” (3 Nephi 18:19). When we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, it means “our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ. … We then ask for things it is possible for God to grant. Many prayers remain unanswered because they are not in Christ’s name at all; they in no way represent his mind, but spring out of the selfishness of man’s heart” (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer”). Prayers that follow this pattern represent vain hope, not faith.
Prayer is not a negotiation process. It is an alignment process. We don’t move God to our point of view. Prayer is less about changing our circumstances and more about changing us. It is about seeking His will and asking for His help to do what we need to do. When we align our will with Heavenly Father’s will, answers and spiritual power will flow more freely. Following this pattern allows us to pray with faith."
Monday was raining hard all day long! We met up with the Elders in the New Canaan family ward to discus and coordinate more about who is visiting who from the ward list. That night we went to Family Home Evening with the Young Singles Adults in Stamford. We had some investigators come, plus we were sharing the spiritual message. Our message had two parts to it! The first was discussing a scripture 2 Nephi 32:3 We asked the members what they have done to be able to effectively feast on the words of Christ. After the spiritual aspect of things Sis Ngosha and I did a rap about baptism to prepare the mood for the activity that night. The rap turned out decent. It was one I knew because Tristan used to sing it,  then when I came into the mission my trainer and I used to listen to it. Anyway Sister Ngosha forgot all the words so she just danced around while I sang solo. lol
For the activity they were having Hip Hop lessons from a guy in our ward who is a very talented dancer! It was so cool! I wished I was in normal clothes and able to dance more fully. I am definitely going to take hip hop classes when I'm home.
This has been a really fast week! I love you very much! I pray that you are doing well. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father who is very aware of you and me. He knows our needs and He is looking for ways to bless us as we draw near to Him. I know life is hard and often painful, but I also know that there is a greater purpose and cause for everything. If we will trust in the Lord and cry unto Him, and seek to do His will, we will feel tremendous peace. I am so thankful for this gospel. I am thankful for the way my character is being developed and tried as I serve the Lord.
In one of my favorite General Conference talks by  Richard G. Scott
"The Transforming Power of Faith and Character"  there are a few lines that ring true to my heart,

We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.

Be thankful that sometimes God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes. That causes your faith to increase and your character to grow. 
Your faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments will strengthen your character. Your character is a measure of what you are becoming. It is the evidence of how well you are using your time on earth in this period of mortal probation.

Character is woven patiently from threads of applied principle, doctrine, and obedience.
check out the whole talk- it's awesome! r?lang=eng
Sister Emily Johnson

Lots of Pictures

One of my favorite pictures of the Savior with children. It was printed on a canvas and hung in the primary room in Olmstead.
On our last district meeting we were trying to take pictures as a zone... unfortunately this is the quality of picture you get when there are 20 or so cameras lined up on a table. One day I will have to take better pictures from other missionaries off of facebook. lol

 based off of the picture you would think I was called Foreign! Nope, I'm just in New Canaan where there are insanely rich people. That in itself is foreign to me lol

I am pretty spoiled here! I'll def. try to get some better pictures of everything.

 Sarah and Elle (identical twins with Down Syndrome)
Jenny H. (whimsical headbands) who was visiting the Singles Ward

Photo shoot, welcome to new canaan

I love living with Sister Lavaki again!

 Yankee's Game! The whole mission got permission to go, so I got to see old friends!
-Sister Woo
-Sister Crawford 
(and plenty more I didn't take pictures of or with)
-Neils Topham (former missionary)
Cute kids eating cotton candy and very engaged watching the game
I wish I wasnt blinking... it's the best picture of the field


so here's one where I'm not blinking
taking creeper pictures of other missionary friends through out the stadium

my roomies! (i'm putting on sun screen)
tongan faces
back on the train

I love Sister Makanesi!
so tired after the game

My first week in Connecticut

Hello everyone!

This was my first full week in my new area. I live in Stamford and we serving in the Wavenly Park YSA ward (in Stamford) and in the New Canaan family ward with two elders.  It's really nice here! This week has been pretty peaceful. When we have been out driving I've reflected a lot on the experience Joseph Smith had in the sacred grove because we drive between these gorgeous trees all day everyday!  The spirit has impressed upon my heart with greater conviction the reality of the experience that took place that day. I know the Lord can truly guide those who are humble, pure in heart, faithful, and who have the intent of acting upon answers they receive. No we don't all have those experiences, but we can receive personal revelation and be guided in our lives.
Sister Ngosha is pretty awesome! I am her second companion so we are still getting to know one another and learning how the other person is. But  all in all we're doing really well. Also, I love living with Sister Lavaki and Sister Makanesi! They are sooooo funny! I laugh so hard every time I come home.
I loved church on Sunday! It was pretty long! Because we cover two wards and had correlation for both, but never the less it was enjoyable. We started at 7:30am and ended with a dinner appointment at 6:30p.m.
Both wards are super legit! I love the New Canaan family ward :)
There is even a couple that has identical twin girls who both have down syndrome! Naturally I feel in love with them =) Their names are Elle and Sarah. I took a picture with them. If I can get the computer to work with the pictures I'll be sure to include that one! Also, the ward is very active and very missionary minded. They have a lot of youth with mission calls right now. I'm pretty sure they have all been called to Brazil. There place they go through to get their visa out here is (apparently) a lot easier to get it then other places.  The houses are gorgous! All of them have this adorable style to them. They are modern, luxurious, yet antique cottage and picnic feel. Naturally I love all of them.  They preserve the greenery here and the houses have beautiful yards surrounding them. 
When I was at the singles ward on Sunday Jenny Hansen was visiting. She's my facebook friend who designs Whimsical Headbands. She served a mission in Arizona and was living in New York at the time I got my call. We had only ever talked through facebook and although she's since moved back to Utah, the ward she used to be in was the Stamford YSA ward =) It was so cool to meet her.  I definitely want to stay in touch with her after the mission. She's a very talented artist.
Let's see what else...
Today I went to a Yankee's game. The whole mission got permission to go because it's the only one that is taking place on a pday this summer. I took us 1 and 1/2 hours to get there from where we are. It's was pretty exhausting. But it was a lot of fun too!
In addition to seeing other missionaries Sister Maldarizzi was there with her sister. She's finished her mission but they are just finishing their week visiting NY. Also, Topham was there! He served with me for the majority of my mission and he was out visiting with his parents and they came to the game! It was so great to see him. I miss my mission friends. He went home in the March transfer. That one was hard for me. So many wonderful friends returned home.
I am feeling happier than last week. When I emailed last week I was so dead haha. Anyhow I am trying my best to draw nearer to the Lord. I hope you are doing well.
I am grateful for this time I have to serve. Sometimes I have to remember to take a deep breath and breathe. 
"Be still and know that I am God."

Sister Emily Johnson

Sunday, June 2, 2013

What a week!

Honestly I can't remember much of what happened last week because I have my new planner with me. After only one transfer in Olmstead (Bronx) Sister Crawford was called to be a trainer! So as of last Thursday I knew I would be getting moved. This came as a surprise to many people from our ward because of how little time I spent there. However,  I have a firm testimony that the Lord knows where He needs us.  For multiple reasons I felt it was my time to leave Olmstead.
I've been preparing mentally for the move since Saturday and Sunday. Sister Crawford had a trainers meeting on Friday. It's been pretty rainy this last week. This has been kind of a tough week. Usually when I look back on the week I am reminded of all the wonderful things that have taken place. Don't get me wrong, it's still been a good week. It's mostly that I have been emotionally anticipating the changes and also helping Sister Crawford with the changes.  It's been a very emotional week... lol
Changes are hard, but when it's all said and done it's not too bad.  On the plus side the apartment I'm in now is LEGIT!!! It's the nicest one in our mission and I feel like I'm in a hotel. It is seriously impressive! It is elegant, each companionship has their own bathroom, there is a washer and dryer IN our apartment, and a gym in the same building!!! That is luxury!!! Absolutely crazy... I was stunned. Oh and I'm in a car again. It's a Ford something.
I am companions with Sister Ngosha from Tanzania Africa. She is a very friendly person. I think we are going to get along just fine =)
It's hard to believe I only have two more transfers! I am planning on diving in to this new area and giving it my best.  I'm in the Stamford Connecticut singles ward. Apparently a few weeks ago they started covering the New Cannon family ward. So Sunday will be six hours of church! Good thing I know this is the Lord's gospel haha.
Anyways I am doing well. I look forward to getting through this week so I can have a better feel of this area. Also, I'm roommates with Sister Lavaki again so I am very excited about that!!! I love her =)
Lets see what else is new or worth sharing...
I got to see Sister Awerkamp today at transfers and it was so great! I love her to pieces.  Sister Maldarizzi finished her mission today. A lot of missionaries from my going home group are leaving early (whether by a week or a transfer) for various reasons (family member wedding, school, etc) so my group is dwindling. Oh well. I am going strong.
During the past few emotional days I felt a greater sense of peace and understanding through the atonement. I hope that feeling from Christ continues to carry my through this change.  I am thankful that Christ promised to send us the comforter. I don't know how we would ever be able to cope with the challenges of life without the tender mercies of the Lord.
I pray that each of us will strive to feel the Holy Ghost comforting us and helping us understand what we are experiencing here in mortality.
Sister Emily Johnson

May 16th-May 22nd

How is it already the end of May-ish and nearing transfers?
Well you know what that means?!  Come May 27th is the count down of 12 weeks! I'm not trunky... I'm just making sure I appreciate each day. It's weird being close to the end of the mission because I've never experienced this before haha.  It's something new to me. By time I wrap my mind around it it'll be over.

Twelve weeks is still quite a bit of time. However, let me tell you about this past week... since I will only email you 13 more times as of this email.
Right, so this has been a pretty great week. One of the fastest weeks since I've been in this area. There was a lot going on and that was a little stressful, but once you make it through you feel good.

Thursday the 16th the Elders (Elliott and Portillo) had a baptism for two young women named Jeannie and Joy (16 & 14 yr old sisters). I might have mentioned them last week. Anyways, it went really well.  Our investigator Gifty accepted a baptismal invitation the day before for June 29th! It was awesome because Sister Crawford didn't even finish her question before Gifty responded yes.
Gifty was going to come to the baptism but something came up for school so she didn't get there until after it was over, but we gave her a tour of the church! She liked it. She's coming to church this Sunday.

Friday the 17th we had an awesome lesson with our investigator Jeff and one of the members made all the difference in the lesson going well. At the end he (Jeff) said an amazing closing prayer! He is really taking his baptism serious after this lesson.

Saturday night all the missionaries got permission to go to stake conference (even without an investigator going) because a big focus was on member missionary work. It was a lot like what our mission president told us from his meeting with the stake presidents as they counseled with the Lord about the needs of this area. They received strong revelation that the member missionary work needs to be strengthened. Why else would Heavenly Father send 100 new missionaries to our mission in the last couple of months. The field is white and ready to harvest. The finding is going to come from members and less active members.
It was also such a treat for me to go to the adult session of stake conference because 3 of the 4 areas I've served are in the stake and I got to see a ton of amazing families all gathered in one room! Not to mention previous missionaries I've served with! I was ECSTATIC! I literally was so happy! I was freaking out. lol

Sunday's session of stake conference came from Salt Lake and was broad casted to three states (NY, New Jersey, I forgot the other) It was wonderful too! It was a lot about member missionary work, family history, and going to the temple often. It was very similar to what was said by our local leaders. It was great hearing themes repeated by other church leaders (Boyd K. Packer spoke and a few others).  
One thing that stood out to me was what was said about Family history. They pointed out that family history and genealogy are not the same. Rather genealogy is part of family history, but that family history is much broader. One one of the family history websites they have updated it so you can upload stories and pictures of your ancestors! That really caught my attention. I am going to do a lot of family history work when I come home! It's not just people who have passed away, it's for the past, the current, and the future!  Also, while talking to some other missionaries on Sunday evening I decided something about my future goals =) I am going to learn Swedish so I can travel to Sweden and do family history work! Plus that is such a righteous desire Heavenly Father will help me learn the language! 

Monday the 20th I went on a split! I got to go to Kingsbridge (my first area) and be with Sister Maldarizzi! Sister Broderick came here to be with Sister Crawford (Sis. Broderick's first area). It was awesome! I got to see some old members in Kingsbridge.  We had dinner with the Britton family and the Cruz's (two of my favorites!) It was an absolute delight =)

Well after I get off here I am going to Manhattan with a member from our ward Hanzy. He's super funny and has been helping us a lot with the work. He's going to show us around the city (even though I know the city lol)
but actually we are going to a few spots I haven't been before.

Oh and it's official! It's NASTY humid again!!! lol

I love you! Thank you for your love and support. I know the Lord knows our struggles. If we are open, honest, and share our raw emotions with Him... even when we don't actually want to think about what we're feeling or thinking, He truly can comfort us. If we draw nearer unto Him, He will draw nearer unto us.
I love Him very much.

Sister Emily Johnson