Friday, August 16, 2013

Go Crazy =D

Well it's hard to believe it, but this is it! This is the last email before I come home from my 18 month mission.

I don't have my planner with me so I feel somewhat lost. Usually I look at that and recap on how my week has been.  Ok I borrowed Sister Ngosha's planner. It wasn't quite as detailed with my highlights but it helped me get the general over view. I'll do my best to explain the blessings I received this week. If nothing else I can tell you in person or on the phone next week =)

Over all there are three main events I want to comment on.

The first is how amazing Sanna is doing and how I see her testimony strengthen on a regular basis.  We met with Sanna twice this last week. We had a lesson on my 18th month mark and it was a very powerful lesson! It was centered on the role the Book of Mormon has in our conversion. We taught a lot about gaining our witness through the Holy Ghost and praying about the Book of Mormon. She's already been reading the Book of Mormon every day for the past two weeks! However, now she has a copy of the Book of Mormon in Finnish =)
We also taught her on Tuesday morning and it was a nice lesson on the Word of Wisdom. A while back she told her friends in Finland that she wasn't going to drink for a year. I definitely think she was being prepared by the Lord.  Sister Ngosha has started learning a few Finnish phrases! lol
The coolest part about Sanna's story is that later that day she was reading the Book of Mormon and just pondering and she got very emotional. She text us saying she thinks she "knows". I always would joke with her and say, "I know one day you will know and you can text me and say 'I know!'" And at last her it was :)  She's still not fully confident but she's getting there. I loving seeing how the spirit really works on people.

The second note worthy item is the fact that Chris White returned home from his mission! lol  His family is in our ward out here.  I love his parents and they all joined the church about ten years ago. His younger brother Nick is leaving in October to serve in Zimbawe Africa! This past week we have been over at their home a few times visiting with Chris and getting better acquainted with Sister White's parents who came into town for the occasion.
It was weird when Chris gave his talk because I'll be giving mine two weeks later! Sunday we were at their home cracking up talking to the grandparents. We were trying to answer some of their questions but the conversation kept going in circles. Thus it became very humorous to all of the younger participants.

The final experience I want to share about was my preparation day yesterday. It was awesome! We got to drive with President Morgan down to the city from Scarsdale. I always look forward to those more personal interactions. He's a wonderful man.  We met up with the other "dying missionaries" or rather the missionaries that are going home when I do at the temple.  We went to do a temple session and see the new movie :) It was fabulous!
President Morgan counseled us to seek to feel the Lord's acceptance of the mission we served when we were in the Celestial room.  I felt a lot of peace during the time we were in the temple. It was the last time I was going to be there as a missionary. Having a temple in the heart of Babylon to attend during the mission has been one of my favorite things and sources of refuge. 
After the temple we went to eat at a restaurant called Nick's. We had a few tables so it ended up being Sister Broderick and I with President and Sister Morgan. We were cracking jokes and telling stories. It was relaxed and meaningful. I enjoyed every minute of it.

It's starting to sink in. Slowly, but it's coming. This next week I will have my last Sunday and my exist interview (probably Monday). Oh and Sister Kindlespire got special permission for us to go to the Statue of Liberty! So it turns out I get to do that tomorrow even though it wont be P-day. 
The last night in the mission home (August 21st) we will have a testimony meeting and then we're allowed to play games, watch Disney movies, and hang out! haha it's going to be legit!

Well it's going to be one crazy week! I know this chapter is closing and I'm so grateful the Lord let me have these experiences. They have shaped my very character.

I love you!

Sister Emily Alexandra Johnson

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Keep Calm and be a Missionary!

Can you believe it's coming to an end? I honestly can not! I am excited =)
 I am sure once I come home it will hit me how much I miss serving as a missionary. However, I'm giving it everything I have right now knowing that around the corner I am going to party with all my friends and family.  It will be surreal being reunited but I also think it may be one of the most memorable and joyous experiences I ever experience in my life! 

Something we have been doing more this past week and will have a lot of opportunities before I go home is helping with service by doing physical labor. It's actually one of my favorite things to do. There is something about being able to exert my effort and strength for the well being of others that fills me with energy and joy.  It reminds me of when I was serving in my first area in Kingsbridge we were able to help one of our investigators deep clear and organize her apartment. It is incredible to see the way that kind of service can impact someone's heart.  Most people find it hard to believe I like to organize so much considering I have A.D.D. I tell them it's the perfect combination of ADD and OCD =) When I am able to make a difference through service I know with all my heart that,"...when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17)

I have the majority of my mission experience written so I'll attach the finished copy sometime next week. Also, one week from today I have my exist interview with President Morgan and the temple trip. It's going to be an awesome P-day! I'm not sure how the timing will work out, so if I don't get a chance to email you Wednesday I'll make sure to email you Thursday. 

On Saturday we had dinner at a members home and they had an awesome playground! I'm going to attach a copy so you can see where we played with them before dinner.  There are some amazing families here in CT. I am continually impressed by the people that I meet. 

We had a lot of people we fasted for on Sunday. There were some amazing testimonies shared. I took the opportunity to share my testimony at both wards since it's my last fast Sunday in the mission.  In the singles ward NicolE our Brazilian member who is awesome, shared her testimony about a nanny experience she had the week before where the mom wanted to wash off the boy's foot from playing in the pond before dinner. Both her and the mom had noticed the dirt on his feet but didn't think much of it. However, when she went to rinse it off, come to find out it was two LEECHES! She was talking about how it was so gross and awkward! It was really hard to get them off and when they finally ripped them off it left holes in between his toes that squirted out blood! Then she related that experience to the gospel =) The Leeches are like Satan (gross and awkward! lol) and that even though the appearance/presence seems harmless, he is actually causing us damage and we need to get rid of him asap!

After doing a lot of service for one of our less active members we have become really good friends with her! She is great. She wasn't taught very much before she was somewhat pressured into being baptized. Yesterday as we made dinner with her we talked openly about her experience joining the church. She is open to us reteaching her the lessons! We are so excited to be able to help her start from the beginning to help her gain her own testimony of the restored gospel =)

Quick update on the work:
We got Sanna a copy of the Book of Mormon in Finish! It's pretty cool! We're trying to set up a time we can take it to her.
Kevin is going to get baptized but he's not sure when. I don't know whether or not it will be before I leave the mission. He's such a great guy =) I know everything is in the Lord's timing so I'm not worried.

I mentioned once before that I have a book mark in my planner that says, "Don't count the days. Make the days count." To help me apply this I wrote in my journal, "How can I make today count?"

I finish my mission Wednesday August 21st, but I'll stay in the mission home over night and fly out August 22nd.  I will also be speaking in church August 25th! So if you want to post this info on facebook so my friends can see that would be great! Thank you =)

The other day I was about to fill my journal so I decided to end it with my testimony! In closing of this email I am going to type what I wrote so you can see how much I've grown during this time.

I have learned for myself the importance of sharing the restored gospel with those around us.  I know we have a loving Heavenly Father who sent us here to grow. I know it is only through Christ we can be cleansed of our sins and be able to overcome the opposition in our life. I know we face opposition and struggle so we can draw closer to our Heavenly Father and learn to appreciate joy, peace, and love.
I know that we are taught our Heavenly Father's plan through prophets in every period of time. We can study their teachings through the scriptures.
I know our Heavenly Father has given us the priesthood authority on earth to perform the ordinances necessary for us to return to live with Him.  I know that when we make covenants and perform ordinances we are using our agency to follow Christ and accept the Lord's will for us.
I know we can have our own spiritual confirmation of gospel doctrine and principles. I know that if we do the Lord's will and embellish and enrich our lives with gospel related activities (temple attendance, family history, service, etc.) and develop our talents and strive to understand our life mission... Then we will be filled with unconditional Joy! Others will desire that same joy in their lives; Thus we will have the opportunity to share the gospel and help the Lord gather His lost sheep in these last days.  I know Heavenly Father loves us more than we understand. I know He has a plan for me! I know my mission has been more like the MTC, and my life as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ will be more like my mission.
I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's kingdom on the earth preparing us for when the Savior will come again.
I know Joseph Smith was called as a prophet to restore the fullness of the gospel.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God preserved for our day to bring us to  Christ.
I know I still have a lot to learn, but I also know I must endure to the end by taking the sacrament weekly, feasting on the scriptures daily, and praying always.
I know that my Redeemer lives.
I know these things for myself because I have studied, prayed, desired, fasted, applied, and seen them manifested in my life. Each time I see them manifested in my life it's by the power of the Spirit of God. It has confirmed the truth of these things unto me.
I love this gospel and I will continue to serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength.
I bare my witness to you in the sacred name of our Lord and Savior, 

Sister Emily Alexandra Johnson

Member's playground/house
Brother Read (New Canaan ward mission leader)
Our member and her daughter had a wildflower sale!

Just Keep Swimming

Hello! I set the caption as Just Keep Swimming because Sister Lavaki wrote that in my planner this week and I think it perfectly explains the position I'm in right now. I'm close but I'm not there yet =)

This has been a nice week =) It's been very spiritual. Friday we had our Zone Conference (my last one!) and it was exactly what I needed! The breakout sessions with the Assistants was focused on Keeping Commitments and Asking Inspired Questions. Towards the end of the conference President Morgan spoke a lot about becoming Consecrated Missionaries! There is a talk that was given in the MTC by a general authority in 2008 that he based his comments off of. Nevertheless it was very exciting and a little overwhelming to internalize what he shared. Everyone left with a renewed desire and commitment to serve the Lord with all their heart, might, mind, and strength, leaving everything on the alter of sacrifice to do the Lord's work!
Since then we've been trying to apply these things into the work and Sister Ngosha and I have noticed a difference. It's neat to see how this is shaping the work. I'm grateful this is my focus these next few weeks. I also am excited for the missionaries who still have their missions ahead of them. I know if they will commit to be a consecrated missionary their mission will be an incredible experience to them.  I feel I have tried to do this throughout my mission, it's just nice to have an official name for what this is. 

Tomorrow I'm writing my mission experience! It's a paper about how my mission has influenced me as an individual.  I'll make sure to include a copy next week. Today was a nice P-day. We rearranged and organized our room very thoroughly. It's clean, spacious, and welcoming! I'm excited for the change of environment to rejuvenate my spirit.

Also, this past Sunday the daughter our bishop in the YSA ward came home from her mission in England! She was called to serve Mandarin speaking. She spoke at church and she had such a strong spirit when she spoke. I couldn't help but think how that was going to be me soon. Then Tuesday (yesterday) we had dinner with the White family in New Canaan. Their son Chris returns home from his mission on August 8th (my 18 month mark of going to the MTC) and speaks that Sunday (August 11th)! It's unreal! All of these returning missionaries are reminding me that it's almost me! After Chris's homecoming talk I'll only have one more Sunday left of my mission! So Weird!!! 

I am looking forward to seeing everyone very soon! I love you! I can not believe it is actually here. But until then I'll just keep swimming (with all my heart, might, mind, and strength! haha)

Sister Emily Johnson

we matched one of our members!
zone conference

Every Minute, Every Second Counts

Another week has come and gone and I'm freaking out by how fast time is going by.  First things first, we are short on time because we going to a Zone Activity at our ward mission leaders home in New Canaan. We're going to play Tennis and an intense game of district ultimate frisbe. If you can imagine, or if you have every played a competitive game with it wont surprise you to learn I have been talking a lot of trash! hahah 
I am so stoked for this activity! I've been looking forward to it for some time now.
This past weekend our investigator Kevin went with the young single adults on a trip to Palmyra!  He loved it =) He is still progressing towards August 10th as a baptismal date. Keep him in your prayers! He is a amazing guy. 
I feel very strongly that I needed to come to this area to learn from Sister Ngosha and to make the connections with people in Stamford and New Canaan.
Yesterday we went to look up a Less Active member who lived in Darien that could come to the singles ward. He has an amazing family! We got to meet his cute little grandma who has recently lost her sight. She is originally from France. She is very intelligent and her mind is vibrant and sharp. She told us some amazing stories. She is my hero =)
Also, I found out the whole family is pretty artistic! The dad is the creative director for Crayola! How cool is that?! He is also the ward mission leader in the Darien ward. We had a great time visiting with the family and we felt the spirit really strong when we shared a spiritual thought =)
It was such a fabulous way to end the day because all day was slow and frustrating. We had to deal with some obnoxious people and a lot of things falling through. It was so nice to feel the Lord's gentle reassurance that all of the hard things we face are worth it. It's just a matter of endurance. Today I was studying in Alma 14 and at first I didn't want to read the chapter because I didn't want to read about people getting burned haha. Anyhow I'm glad I did read it because I went on to notice HOW much Alma and Amulek had to struggle and endure tremendous hardships for righteous sake. It wasn't until after a lot of obnoxious people, lawyers, teachers, and others repeatedly smote them and spit on them, starved them, and took away their clothes for days in a row that the Lord intervened!  The Lord's timing is everything! Reading the words of the opposition I thought of how much they tried to provoke Alma and Amulek but they said nothing. They attempted to place a lot of doubt "if you really have the power of God with you free yourself from these bands"  (that's not a direct quote but rather me paraphrasing lol). The Lord, our God, cannot be provoked. He is patient and long-suffering. Justice and Mercy will come, but in Heavenly Father's time frame. This chapter taught me why bad things happen to good people.  
I know the Lord is pleased with the work that I'm doing here and I'm excited to finish strong! 
If I have a chance to get back on after our activity I'll write a little bit more.
I love you!
Sister Johnson

Our AC wasn't working at the beginning of the week and our apartment got to be 88 degrees. It was disgusting! lol but it's fixed now.


Heck yeah!

After a lot of trash talk it was time to bring it!
Car pooling as an apartment to District Meeting