Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Listening to the Spirit

Hey family!
I started reading emails... but then I just started copying and pasting again to print.  I don't have time to read them because the computer has a short time limit.  Will you get Nana's address for me?  And tell Grandma Diss and Nana I love them.  And tell Grandma and Grandpa Johnson too and thanks for the letters.  I can't wait to read them.  I just love my family and friends. :)

Soooo something cool before I forget.  I got to pet wolves this week!  We have a Native American Chief in our ward and he has wolves.  I guess it's rare that they let you pet them because usually they try to attack, so we felt special. :)  Then while we were there, they made us chili.  I was like, oh yum! I love Chili.  After I finished eating the lady said, "so was that your first time eating rabbit and deer?  We caught it ourselves." haha It wasn't bad... I'm kinda glad she told me after I ate it.
Also, maybe I shouldn't say this, but we went to this ladies house - be SO grateful for our home and where we live.  Seriously.  We walk in and first of all, it smelled like someone died... then she was holding a dog in her hand and she said... "that's weird, it was alive a second ago".  It just died. :(  Then we look in her kitchen... think of an attic- a really dirty one with stuff ALL OVER.  That is what it was like.  It had poop all over the counter tops and all over the floor.  She was like... "what do ya'll want for dinner" and threw the chicken right on the counter on the poop :(  Then she looked at me and said, "you better watch out, I have mental problems!" and she pretended to scratch me.  I said I had a stomach ache.. and we left without eating.  I really did though.  I have never been so grossed out in my entire life.  LOVE our home :)  We live in the best place ever. :)

This week was a normal missionary week!  We taught a lot, had a baptism, taught a Book of Mormon class, went tracting in the pouring rain, met a lot of new people.  I still haven't been able to give a tour at Kirtland yet, but this week we will!  I don't know much about the tour yet... so it will be interesting.  We can't study our Kirtland book until we are in Kirtland, they don't want us to focus on it.  It kinda scares me! ha but oh well, I can always give my testimony.

We had a training meeting as new missionaries and also as Visitor Center sisters.  A senior couple got up and talked about how their daughter was at the Boston Marathon.  I haven't heard much about it, but I guess a bomb went off?  Well, their daughter had a prompting that she should leave... and two minutes later is when the bomb went off and she was not injured.  They were SO relieved!  There are two things I love about this... One - she felt the spirit and is living in a way that she can feel the spirit in her life and Two - she ACTED on it.
The Spirit can protect us, comfort us, help us, guide us, etc., but it's our job to keep living in a way that we are able to have the Holy Spirit as our constant companion.  Sometimes the spirit repeats itself, but most of the time, we only get one chance, so if we aren't careful, we will miss it.  It is just a still small whisper (D&C 85:6).  I also like to think of the spirit as a direction without explanation.  It takes FAITH. If we don't have faith... then it's pointless.

So this last Saturday, we had a miracle day!  We felt strongly that we should go out offering others service.  It worked!!!  We had some miracles happen and it was my first real experience of seeing the miracles that happen on missions.  It was such a rewarding experience.  We had planned to go see a guy named Bradley Roberts, but when we went up to the door, he wasn't home, but the thought was still in my head that we should go back later.  We went to another member home and then the thought came again and I asked my companion if we should go back. She said... if you want to.  But we ended up continuing on to another member home. Then the third time, I said, I think we should go back and so we headed over.  His son was actually the one who lived in the home and Bradley Roberts did not live there.  The son was nice and he told us where his dad's home was.  We ran over there and we saw a woman out front. She said, "Are you missionaries?  We have been waiting for you!"  That made me so happy to hear.  Then we see Bradley.  He was SOOOO happy to see us.  He hasn't been to church for a long time.  He told us that even us being in his home helps remind him that he needs to be better and that we are helping him already.  He invited us over for dinner this next week and we are going to start teaching him.  We hope that he will start coming to church.  (He said...since my birthday is in July, he is going to cook me up a couple pigs.... hmmmm :) )  The most amazing part is, when I saw them, it was like I have seen them before and I instantly loved them!  

It was great and I know we need to never ignore a prompting of the spirit because you don't always get a second chance.  In this case, I did and I'm so grateful for that.  It is sooooo important for all of us to prepare ourselves to be able to feel the spirit and to also figure out and learn HOW the spirit speaks to us personally.
I do love, love the gospel.  It is our map and our study guide to return to live with our Heavenly Father.  I know that if we continue to have Faith, Keep the Holy Ghost with us, repent and endure to the end, we can return to live with our Father in Heaven.

I love you all... love and miss you family. Stay happy.  Stay Strong.  Keep enduring to the end.
Until next week,

Sister Johnson

“You can tell how effective your daily plans are when you don’t have to ask others, ‘now what should I do’?” 
"Service changes people.  It refines, purifies, gives a finer perspective and brings out the best in each one of us.  Righteous service is the expression of true charity, such as the Savior showed. "

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mail time!

Today we received a letter from Sister Johnson's mission President, President Vellinga.  Kelsi is doing great and is currently serving in Rootstown, Ohio area and living in Ravenna with her companion, Sister Joseph.  She is about 45 miles from the Kirtland Visitor Center that they serve in on Fridays and Saturdays.  

Each one of us in our family also received a personal letter from Kelsi.  What a great day for us!

Monday, April 22, 2013

First Week in the Mission Field

Hi family!
Okay, just like the other weeks ... there has been so much change and I don't even know where to start! I haven't had time to read the emails yet, so I will just print them out and write back.
This week was a little different .... I left the MTC and flew to Cleveland! I love my mission president and his wife. They are seriously so sweet. I told President Vellinga about the "Chigga Cheer" when I met with him and then he started singing ... haha it made me laugh. They have a daughter named Kristin, who is 16. We hit it off and I talked to her a lot when I first arrived.

The next morning we woke up super early and went straight to Kirtland. It was so green and beautiful and it was raining. We went inside the Kirtland Temple and President Andersen (the Patriarch who wrote the book I was reading before I left) was there and talked all about the temple.  We sang the Spirit of God where Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ had appeared. It was sooooo powerful and my MTC companion, Sister Smith, played the piano ... she was like, "woah, that is going in my journal!"  

Then we went to the school of the prophets and prayed. We learned that the School of the Prophets was used as the temple for a while.  The Savior also appeared in that room. President Vellinga had us pray to Heavenly Father and tell him what kind of missionaries we are going to be. That was just as powerful or even more. I don't think I have ever felt the spirit so strong than in those two moments. Kirtland is beautiful :) I am so blessed to be able to go there. We serve there twice a week, usually Friday and Saturday this transfer.
Mom, my zone leader is Elder Prince! haha My companion’s name is Sister Joseph. She is from Layton, Utah. We are complete opposites, but she is way nice and very patient with me.  I ask so many questions, sometimes I feel super annoying. There is sooo much to know and learn! She is actually really healthy too :) I live with two other sisters and we went and worked out for one of the first times on Saturday.  It's been hard to go with the weather.  They were telling everyone at church that they can't walk and I killed them haha. We did a 30 minute boot camp ... I made them do suicides or ladders. It was great:)
My favorite thing to do now is personal study in the morning! I have read my whole life, but ever since being on my mission, things have stuck out to me more than ever. I never want to stop studying now.
We were able to meet with a few people this week. We are meeting with this 18 year old named, Bobb. He reminds me of Daniel Gantz.  He is awesome.  I asked him to be baptized and he said YES! So, we are having a baptism on May 25th :) Then we went tracting for the first time. That was super intimidating ... I feel so pushy knocking on people's doors, but the first house we went to, they let us right in! We had a lesson and everything, then the next house we went to, I totally fell down the steps and was bleeding everywhere ... haha I was excited to get a sweet battle wound my first time tracting. :)
Something I have really learned this week is obedience. Not just obedience, but exact obedience. (your favorite word, mom :) ) When we went to the Provo Temple last week, we walked out and we started discussing about the promises and covenants that we make in the temple and how would anyone forget those promises after going? Well, it's the same with everything in life. You forget if you don't go to the temple. You forget those feelings, the promises, the knowledge, etc. It's the same with church. We go to not only renew our covenants each week, but to remember Him, to feel the spirit and to increase our knowledge. It is SO important to pray, to read our scriptures, to pay our tithing, to have faith and follow the commandments. If we do these things, we will be able to come closer to our Heavenly Father. That's why He gives us those commandments, it's to become closer to Him. That's why we are told to constantly nourish because we can easily forget and distance ourselves from Him.

We went to a less actives house this week, her name is Sister Lynn. Her husband is out of work and she stopped going to church and stopped praying and doing all of the little things because she said it's hard and life gets busy. I was able to tell her about our family’s experience and how our faith was really tested, but everything always turned out ok and Heavenly Father blessed us for doing the little things and we gave her a scripture to read... Ether 12:6. We told her sometimes life gets hard and Heavenly Father gives us trials and challenges, but He is testing our faith. He is trying to get us closer to Him and to rely on Him. I told her that in our family we had to rely so much on Heavenly Father when dad didn't have work, we got discouraged and realized that we needed to continuing to have faith.  Sometimes it was really hard, but He is always with us. A couple days later, she called and she said she paid her tithing and all of this unexpected money came in. She was able to get gas money and food and she started crying.
Heavenly Father wants us to come closer to Him, we just need to follow His commandments and endure to the end. I know it's easy to get discouraged.  That is something really hard for me. I just need to rely on Him more. Especially on the mission, it's really easy to wake up at 6:35 when we are supposed to wake up at 6:30. I never really thought it would be that hard to be obedient, but it's kinda been a struggle. Especially when Me and mom always think the rules don't apply to us ;) I just have to remember I am not on my time, I am on the Lord's time.

It's all surrounded by obedience. Not just "getting by" obedience, but "exact" obedience. I love this gospel and the joy it brings to our family and to everyone else's families. I know that if we follow the counsel of our loving Heavenly Father and follow Him with exact obedience, we will have immense joy!
I love you all. I will write you letters today. Be happy :)
Sister Johnson
"Obedience brings blessings, but EXACT obedience brings miracles"
"The Lord can only teach an inquiring mind"

Friday, April 12, 2013

Last week in the MTC

Hey Ya'll!

First off... THANK YOU for the cute package. Everyone wanted to see, it was way cute. Tell Robin and The Novillo family thank you as well!  I never thought I'd love letters, dearelders, packages as much as I do :) 

Did Aunt Margene tell you I've been in the nurse's office quite a bit?  I've been sick...and I think all the girls in my district are getting sick as well.  It's probably from lack of sleep ... every night I say, okay guys we are going to bed on time  ... then someone ends up hopping on my bed wanting to talk about life. haha I love it though.

It's crazy my time is almost up at the MTC. I didn't think it would be this hard ... it will be nice to get out in the world again :) Did you get my flight information Mom? I can call twice. Once in Salt Lake and once in Detroit ... but, it's super early! We have to leave at 4 a.m. on Monday or something. Oh and we are going to the temple today!  I'm so excited.

So, we are started with Visitor Center Training this week. ALL of our Elder's in our zone left. We were all waayyyy sad.  We got so comfortable and then BOOM they all left to Vegas and England.  So now it is just girls ... it's way quiet, but we are able to focus more, which is great :) 

We got to go to Salt Lake on Wednesday and we go again tomorrow night.  I've been to Salt Lake so many times before ... but this time was different. The spirit was so strong and I looked at it in a completely different way.  I am doing exchanges with the missionaries on Temple Square tomorrow night!  I'm kinda nervous, because this is the first "REAL" time I'm going to be teaching, but I'm excited :)  Also, we are getting trained on the referral center.  So the people on Mormon.org that answer questions, that's ME!  We got some sketch questions yesterday, but it was super fun to be on the computer messaging people, especially about the gospel.

We met with a bunch of investigators in TRC this week. This one lady, Gabby, completely opened up to us and told us about how her brother committed suicide and she didn't understand how God would take her only brother away and leave her to be alone.  We were able to bear testimony to her and helped her understand that God has a plan for all of us and she would be able to see him again.  I told her about an experience I had with Uncle Mike, and she started crying. Then I looked at Sister Smith and Sister Clark and they were crying as well.  The spirit was so strong.  It was amazing to see the relief in her eyes to know that she could see her brother again.

Ok, CONFERENCE was amazing wasn't it??  To be in the MTC during Easter and General Conference was so wonderful.  I don't think I've ever taken so many notes during conference. I don't have a favorite-favorite, but Sister Dalton's was great :) Bednar's was so blunt and SO good! AND Elder Clayton :) I was like, "I know him!! "

Okay, one more quick thought... the last lesson my teacher Brother Elton taught us was amazing.  I feel like everything just clicked.  We talked about how a mission will help to be a mother and a wife/ husband and father.  It's not enough to know the Book of Mormon is true. It's not enough to have a testimony that Joseph Smith restored his church upon the earth. Those are just stepping stones.  What we really need to know is that God is there. He is in our lives every day.  He loves us.  He cares for us and sacrificed EVERYTHING beyond comprehension for every single one of us.  We hear it all the time, but do we really believe it?  Do we pray to our Heavenly Father with faith knowing that He will answer and do we have a sincerity of heart praying to Him?  Our relationship with God or Heavenly Father needs to be rock solid. Not our relationship with Nephi or "knowing" our parents or grandparents have a testimony.  What if an apostle left the church?  Would we question?  Would we consider leaving too?  We shouldn't. We shouldn't because we have own testimony of God, our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. If we are TRULY converted and truly know and have a relationship with Heavenly Father, we will never stray. We need to be disciples of Christ. 

Another question to this is, what is the difference between a Mormon and a disciple?  A Mormon is a follower.... he/she goes to church, serves in a calling, prays and does the motions. BUT a true disciple doesn't just go to church ... they go to church to really gain and grow - with questions in their mind and a sincere heart.  They don't just pray...they pray WITH Heavenly Father. They "talk" with Him. They open their heart to Him and really have that relationship with Him. As we learned in General Conference, "the most important work you can do is within the walls of your own home". Times are getting worse which means WE need to become better. Without a relationship with Heavenly Father, we will not survive.  Our future kids or kids now won't survive. The adversary is working harder than ever. "Without God, we are nothing, but WITH him, we are everything!"  The times are changing, going through the motions won't cut it, we need to become truly converted and true disciples of Christ. 

As a missionary, my purpose isn't to teach people about our church. My purpose is to invite them to come unto Christ and teach them the "Doctrine of Christ" and do this by helping them apply the atonement into their own lives. Satan succeeds when we tie people to "the church" and not the Gospel.  By doing that, we get people with a testimony, but really we need to have conversion.  Joseph Smith asked which church to join, but deeper than that, he was asking Heavenly Father what His purpose in life was?  Where was he supposed to go or expected to be in this life?  Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ gave him direction.  He went to God and ASKED! He relied on the Lord. Trusted Him.

I know that if we have our own testimony, but most importantly, form a relationship with Him or even strengthen it, we will never fall! We can never fall with God by our side.  I know God lives. I know He loves us.  I know that through the atonement, we can return to live with Him on day.  I know that through Joseph Smith, through the restoration, through the Book of Mormon, through prayer, etc, we are able to become closer to Him. That is so important.  Love you.  Be happy.  Be safe. Be prayerful!

Sister Johnson

PS - Kory, you are amazing! You are on a spiritual high. Keep it coming :) I really do "love" all your insights. Also, Kiki - I miss you too! You are the best! Loved your notes. I hope your ankle heals quick!  Kolton, you signed up for Lacrosse?!  Tell me more!  Love you!  Kaden. Keep being a good boy :)  I'll write you!
"The SPIRIT is the key, OBEDIENCE is the price, LOVE is the motivation, CHRIST is the reason"

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

First week in the MTC

Hello familia!!

Thank you for all of the letters and dearelders. It seriously made me so happy to get all of them. Thanks for your spiritual thoughts, Kory. I loved them :) I shared them with some people. You are doing great preparing for your mission!!

I seriously don't even know where to start... just like everyone says, the days are super long, but the weeks go fast. One week down!! I've learned more this week then... well, I don't know, in a very long time :) I don't have too much time and I have so much on my mind, so I will try my best to tell the top moments and answer your questions.

So to start out, I don't think it actually hit me that I was going on a mission until Wednesday night, which was the first night at the MTC. Not gonna lie, I had a couple breakdowns the first couple days. I try so hard to be tough, but man, Satan was working hard on me. I found out I was going to be in a trio. Which just means 3 girls are paired together, instead of the normal 2 missionaries. That was another little challenge at first...trying not to leave one out. I kept asking questions and trying to get to know them. One is Sister Smith and Sister Clark is the red head. It was really tough trying to work with each other...I was made senior companion. .. so we sat and talked about things we don't like and do like....that really helped us. I've honestly gained such a strong love for them already this week. I learned it's really better to love someone because if you do that, you bring out the best in them. Then you grow stronger together and work better together when teaching. It's amazing! 

Also before I forget, the very 1st person I ran into when checking in was Ho'oNani Enos. So we stuck together for a bit. I see Adam Ostergar, Scott Goldie and Alex V quite a bit. I also see Nicole Hawkins, Rebekah Schaff, Michael Witham, Parker McPherson and Jessica Willard. I feel like i'm forgetting some. I seriously LOVE seeing familiar faces that remind me of home. I felt like running up and hugging them all every time I see them, but I just shake the guys (or elders) hands for a long time haha, or give a hand hug. haha

So, you asked what my days are like... I wake up every morning at 5:45 and go to sleep at 11 or later.... We should be going to bed earlier, but we never have been able to because we end late in other meetings and things. We have a main teacher. His name is Brother Elton. Okay, this guy is CRAZY, but I'm glad because I can never zone out in his class. If he see's on person zoning out he makes us get up and do the chicken dance or the macarena.  Not cool, especially at zone meetings with everyone. haha. He is kinda blunt, but an AMAZING teacher. He has a gift. Both of my teachers are my age... so it's kinda nice because I am definitely the oldest missionary I have met so far. They are all so young...it's crazy because the Lord has really prepared the generation coming in. The youngest ones know so much and you can't even tell that they are 18.
We have a district... we are like a little family. We go everywhere with each other. Three of the people in my district have heavy southern accents. One of the girls sister Peterson is obsessed with the movie, Sweet Home Alabama, so we recorded Elder Lavneczek and Sister Peterson saying, "Why would you wanna kiss me anyhow?" And she said, "So I can kiss you anytime I want". haha Don't worry they didn't say it to each other. It was hilarious though. I guess you just had to be there... We have so much fun. We are always laughing in our district. I love it. Another one of the elders made it a district rule to compliment a sister everyday. haha So this morning at the temple he said... "Sister Johnson, I like your hurrr". I have too many stories :) We have to leave the room though sometimes because we are laughing too much...and we need to focus. The elders leave on Monday, so it will be sad when they leave, but then we will be learning all the church history and learning how to be a tour guides next week!!!

Oh you asked about working out and if I have time... yes we do, but my companions and two other sisters don't really like to all the time... .they would rather sleep.  I begged my other companion, Sister Smith, to go with me and we ran stairs. It was amazing! haha I was laughing so hard because she just kept screaming, "are you trying to kill me??" haha it was a good short lil work out.

We also have been teaching a girl named Olivia... the first lesson was okay and the second lesson was awful. We got discouraged and brother Elton was telling us to stop thinking and trying to be successful. We were more focused on the lesson than what she was actually saying. We weren't listening to the spirit enough. She doesn't feel that Heavenly Father loves her and we have been trying to tell her, but nothing was working. Then yesterday, we just prayed that we could really focus on what she was saying and prayed that we would be guided and it was amazing what things we started to say. Things we never even thought about. The end of the lesson was amazing because she said... " wow, I really need to find out for myself". The spirit was so strong... we started crying. We already have such a strong love for her. We teach her again tonight...

Okay, I have learned so much this week, I can't even pick a good part... but mom, you will be jealous. Sheri Dew came to speak to us on Sunday. Everyone kept saying... just get to Sunday and it will get better because we were all having a hard time adjusting and not having our phones! We were all having withdraws... I honestly didn't think it'd be that hard. I just wanted to tell you guys everything that was happening. It's become soooo much better though everyday. Anyways, after Sheri Dew spoke, we watched a talk by Elder Bednar. This talk was life changing. I am pretty selfish. We learned in the talk that we need to focus on others and we will be happier. The fact that I was homesick was showing how I was just thinking about myself, we need to turn ourselves outward. He told a story about how the Relief Society President in the ward called him and told him that three young woman were in a car accident. She said she needed Elder Bednar to come and identify the bodies. He heard through the phone while he was talking to her, that she was on another phone talking to the nurse at the hospital, he heard the nurse on the other phone tell her that one of the young woman were killed and that it was the Relief Society president's daughter. Her very FIRST response was... we need to find out who the other two girls are so we can tell their families. Her first response wasn't even about her daughter. Yes, she was devastated  Yes, she was hurt, but she knew it wasn't ALL about her. Then on the way to her daughters funeral, a lady in the ward called and told her how upset she was that no one brought her dinner when she was sick with a cold. Instead of even INFORMING the lady that she was on her way to her ONLY daughter's funeral, she went and brought her some food. Can we even imagine if we were all that selfless? It is easy for us to turn inward and look towards ourselves, but that is what we are striving to do...we are striving to REMEMBER to look outward and be as Christlike and selfless as we can be. To be truly converted is not just to go to church and be a good person...it is to live as the Savior lived and apply the atonement in our lives every single day. There would have been no atoning sacrifice without the character of Christ. If you can find this talk... It is called, Character of Christ by Elder Bednar in the MTC on Christmas. It was life changing for so many of us!

I have soooooo much more I want to say, but I am out of time. My p-day is next Friday and I think we are going to the temple for the 2:00 pm session I believe.  I am excited. :) Well, things are good here...rough the first little bit, but we have all stuck together and I know that this is where I am supposed to be. This will be such a growing experience not just for me, but my family, my future family and the people I teach. I can't wait to get out in the field!!!!!!

I miss you all so much and love you. Thanks for being who you are. Remember to keep saying family prayer and reading the scriptures. <3

Talk to you next week!

Sister Johnson

ps- I can call you at the airport:)

"When we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously."  Dallin Oaks