Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Image of God Engraven Upon Our Countenance

Hey there!

It's good to hear from you all!  I should have a birthday every week! ;)   It was really so nice to hear from all of you.  Before I forget, KIKI is ENGAGED?!?!  Wow. I so called it ;)  I am seriously freaking out!  So happy for her!  Soooooo who is the lucky guy?

Grandma Johnson sent me a cute polka-dot skirt.  Tell her it fits so great and I love it!  Thank you for my CD!  New music is always the best.  We are kinda getting sick of listening to David Archuleta's Christmas cd... over and over... haha or Motab.  ALSO... I got a sweet note from Jeanie.  Will you tell her thanks for me and that I love her?  Also, Nana and Grandma Diss.  Tell them I love them. :)  

We are so spoiled being at a visitor center.   I got a big huge cake from some of the seniors.  I hate food right now.  haha.  We also went out to eat on my birthday with this cute old couple (Grandma and Grandpa Berryhill).  They brought us fried tortilla chips for dessert for my birthday.  It rains all the time here, but it was raining on my birthday, so we tracked in the rain.  That was cool and then we had a couple appointments... oh!   We went to a nursing home as well and sang with the cute old people and me and sister Spong sang hymns and then I just sat and played hymns on the piano while they ate and Sister Spong visited with them.  It was so great :)  They kept thanking us and said they can't wait until we come back again.  Hope that answers all your questions on the birthday subject.

I also saw a horse and buggy just going down the street.  The Amish are really here!  So when you all come out here, you have to go see the Amish.

Yesterday, we also went on a mini exchange and I got to give a tour with Sister Smith, my MTC companion!  It was awesome because in the MTC we had no idea what we were doing and both so lost, but to see the progress made was awesome and I love her so much! 

On my birthday we had as a back-up, to stop by a less-active... when we stopped by, there was a man out getting out of his car.  So I went up to him and introduced myself.  He said he was the son in-law of the less active.  Then he said, "I'm Catholic.  Are you guys Mormon?  Tell me about Joseph Smith.  I am so curious."  We were like, woah ok yes!  So we set up a time to come back and he also said he would come to church the next day.  He did and he loved it.  We went to go visit him later and he just tried asking soooo many questions.  It was a lot at once, so... I stopped him and asked if we could start with a prayer and then start with the very beginning.  We did, and the lesson went so great.  It was so amazing... I have never been so attentive to someone before.  I could feel and see the spirit working through both of us.  The spirit was so strong and we taught him about the Restoration.  He took it all in.  I asked him how he came to know that the bible was the word of God and then he completely opened up.  He didn't believe in God before and when you don't believe in God and when you have no purpose in life, it's easy to get depressed.  He said he shot himself a while back.  Then I looked closer at his face and could see the scars going from his chin, to the top of his lip, to his forehead.  He said while he was in a mini coma, he had a vision.... he compared it to Joseph Smith and said he saw personages as well.  He said that ever since then, he has read the bible and has hundreds of religious books, trying to find something that is missing because he felt like there was more.  He asked us some very interesting questions... one of the questions was, why do I believe what I believe?  

How does knowing about the Book of Mormon and the message in contains, help me in my everyday life, help me want to be better and help me get up every morning?  Because I know these things (from Book Of Mormon), what makes me act differently than if I didn't have that knowledge?  How does the Book of Mormon help us to become more like Christ and closer to our Heavenly Father?  We really had to think about that... :)  Those are deep questions... good to really think about.

This guy Patrick is really so thirsty to know more.  We really are so blessed to have the Book of Mormon.  Can you imagine not having it?  It is the keystone of our religion... if the Book of Mormon isn't true, then there is no Joseph Smith, there is no Priesthood, no prophet today, no Restoration, no Plan of Salvation and everything else that goes with it.  The Book of Mormon helps me in my everyday life.  I am able to really apply the stories and words that it says in the Book of Mormon to my own life.  I am able to feel the spirit while reading it.  It changes my desires while reading it and I want to become better. 

One more quick thought...
Sister Spong told me a story yesterday.  She said that there was this man who was about to be judged.  He went into a room with another man who was going to interview him. The man said, "What do you know about Christ?"  The man getting interviewed said, "well I know that he died for us, I know he performed miracles and taught us exactly what we need to do to return to live with our Father in Heaven again."  He said he read the Bible and knew He was the perfect example.  That man left the room and the next man in line came in to be interviewed. T he man who came in the room fell on his knees and said, "oh my Lord, oh my Lord." 

The first man knew what He did... but the second man had recognized that it was the Savior.  What was the difference?  Why do you think he had recognized the Savior and the other one didn't?  If the Savior came to us, would we recognize Him?  Are we living in a way that He can live within us?  It reminded me of Alma 5:19, it says...

I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?

If we live in a way and allow our Father in Heaven and Christ into our hearts, we will be able to have the image and countenance.  They will be familiar to us.  So how can we become even closer to our father in Heaven and to our Savior?

I have to run, but I hope you have a great week!  I love you so much and I'm grateful for all of you.

Be happy, Be safe, Be strong, Be Pure.

Love always,

Sister Johnson

“Choose your love, and love your choice.”  Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Faith In Every Footstep

Hey familia ~

How are you all doing?  I liked your pictures. :) cute!  This week was soo long.  I forgot to say Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!  I hope you did something... skype or dad got to come home? :) 

We just got back from seeing Jen Tanner!  She really is so sweet.  It was a little bit of home in a way :)  I want a house like hers!  It's so cute.  She even took us to frozen yogurt :)  It was thhheee BEST. 

I forgot my planner and I can't think without it, so sorry if this is boring... I forget what exactly happened this week!  To start, I know I said this before, but I LOVE my ward. I love this area.  It's country, but not too country.  I am so blessed :)  Oh and I am singing in church in a couple weeks...

We went to sites a little bit more this week.  With the pageant going on in Nauvoo and Palmyra, there were a lot of families and a lot of bus tours.  We met some really cool people. I wish I could remember everyone and all of these amazing experiences!  I was even having some running races with kids who were getting a little antsy.  We got our picture taken a lot this week as well.

This one couple came in and were persuading me to go back into dental hygiene for when I get home.  He is a dentist and said he has gotten a few people into dental school, so he gave me his info so that he can get me into a school when I get home. haha  It made me laugh.  Also, lots of boys have been coming in who are about to leave on missions.  It's weird... everyone thinks I am younger than I really am.  One boy came in this week and left his info, left a little note for me, asked to take a picture with me... and then he came to our ward on Sunday with his family! haha oh no..........

We also had a lot of BYU professors, an apostles family, (Elder Hale's) and a lot of book author's who know everything about church history.  I was like... "yes! You probably weren't informed yet, but you get to take me on tour today." :)  They just laughed... but I was pretty serious.

We got some referrals this week which was really cool.  We haven't received many referrals before.  We got one from Salt Lake from someone who requested missionaries and he lives in our neighborhood!  Except... when we called, he said it was on accident.  He was trying to request info on the Book of Mormon play, buuuuttt we are going to talk to him anyways!  Also... in Rootstown we were teaching a girl named Trina, her mom and her daughter.  She told Sister Joseph that she wanted me to contact her other daughter who lives by us!   We also tracked into a lady named Jamie.  She invited us right in and we taught the Restoration on the spot and she prayed.  We have an appointment with her and her family again tonight :) 

We are trying so hard to talk to everyone we see no matter what and there was this guy riding his bike down the street.... he looked pretty focused, but I ran across the street and said "heyy!" I felt bad interrupting his bike ride, but he said we could come back and teach him and we did!  We were teaching him the Restoration... and it started to rain really hard.  We stood up to get under the roof and we asked if we could just end with a prayer and we asked him to say it.  He did... and while he was praying, he was asking if he could know if these things are true and asked that the truth could be revealed to him.  Then he said, "please bless that the rain will stop so these ladies can get back to their car and so that they can get back home dry and safe." Well, instantly... the rain stopped.  Think of Jurassic Park rain and then instantly stopping.  He finished his prayer and we were like woah... thanks for that :) 

We were teaching a lady last night named Vera.  She is a less-active and we met at sister Young's home.  Sister Young reminds me of you mom. The lesson was so great. The spirit was so strong and I really learned a lot from Sister Young in being bold, but loving.  Vera says she wants to go to church and she wants her family to be together for eternity, but she isn't trying.  It's a long story, but sister Young wasn't very happy.

Well, today is Pioneer day. We are going to head up to Kirtland tonight for a BBQ :)  Elder Sorensen wanted to meet with all of us and talk more about the pioneers and Kirtland.  They really were such great examples.  I was reading verses 3 and 4 of "Come Come Ye Saints".  Really pay attention to the words and put yourself in their shoes. "And should we die before our journey's through?  Happy day!  All is well! " That really amazes me.  I never want to forget that all of the "success today is built upon the shoulders and courage of the humble giants of the past".   We may not have had those mountains to climb, rocky roads to travel, no rivers to go through, etc, but we live in a world where crime is increasing, decency is decreasing, dishonesty, and evil is surrounding us everywhere.  It's not any easier now then it was then.  It is just different.  We can learn from them.  We can learn how they endured their trials and apply it to our own lives.  They had SO much trust in the Lord.  Trust that he would provide the way.  They left their homes and families.  Some even starved and family members died.  They were willing to sacrifice anything for the Lord.  That is true faith and trust.  The cool thing is that we can do exactly what they did.  "We can pray with trust for strength and guidance - just as our forebears did.  That's what it means to walk with faith in every footstep."  We can be pioneers. 

Think to yourself, do you have the same amount of faith that the saints had?  Do you have trust in the Lord?  Would you be willing to sacrifice anything for Him?  I know we can all have this and be like the pioneers then.  We can be pioneers now :)  In the dictionary, it says that a pioneer is, "one who goes before to prepare or open up the way for others to follow."  We can only make it with the help of our Heavenly Father.  Just like it said in this months Ensign, "May the life and ministry of Jesus Christ burn brightly in our hearts and minds and may the fire of our testimonies burn in our bones - just as it did in the lives of the Latter-Day Saint pioneers." 

I love you all so much and pray for you every day.  I appreciate all that you do.  Thank you for the birthday wishes... 

Love always,

Sister Johnson

"When we are uncertain of the path ahead, we fill up our hearts with faith, go forward in to the unknown and stop and pray again and again."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Expect Miracles To Happen

Hey there :)
Oh man, so much has happened and p-day was shortened today... so I have even less time to write today... we will see how fast I can type!
First off, I saw Kory's little e-mail.  Maybe we can all do a chat, I have p-day on Wednesdays now.
I was transferred to HIRAM!  To tell you a little bit about Hiram, this is where Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered.  Only Sisters from two wards get to serve at the Johnson home, so not everyone does and I still get to serve there :)  My last ward and my new ward are the ones who get that opportunity!  So happy!

I also have a new companion... she is adorable and I already love her.  She is from Provo and her name is Sister Spong.  She came out right before me, so we are both newbies learning the area. She is a runner and we have lots in common, so I feel like I can talk to her and get this.... we live in the NICEST apartment in the whole mission.  We live in a gated community and we have a work out room, a paging intercom thing in our apartment, tennis courts, a pool (nice to look at :)) and it's just even more green and beautiful. 

I also love the ward... the senior couple in the ward is Elder and Sister Packer.  So that is fun too :) Sister Spong also likes to feel accomplished and so we are getting things done and have a lot of new ideas for this area.  We have already met with the bishop a couple times and the ward mission leader, nursing homes, other churches to volunteer at and even planning activities with the youth so they can invite their friends, plus so many other ideas!  Man, it is just nice to be here.  Still a small town, but I saw a Starbucks today and Kohl's!  That was the first in forever.
We have also found some new people in the last few days and have taught our investigators named Lisa and now her fiancĂ©, Jim.  The spirit was so strong while teaching about the Restoration.  Sister Spong said she had never had a lesson go so great before.  They are so ready! 

We also were walking to a less-actives home and I saw some kids outside on our way there...we walked past, but I felt strongly that we needed to go back and talk to those kids.  So I turned around, walked back and asked the kids if their mom was home.  She was :)  We talked to her for a little while, we bore testimony about the Book of Mormon, gave her one and she told us that she had just lost her 15 year old son from a drowning accident.  We told her that she would not only see him again, but that she would recognize him.  That hit home with her and she said she really wants to meet with us more.  She said she is already working on quitting smoking and she quit drinking already.  She is already working on everything :)
Also, our sites schedule changed, I will be in Kirtland on Monday and Thursdays and then at the Johnson Home on Fridays.  We did our first tour together in Kirtland yesterday, it is great learning from my companion and getting new ideas.  We have already taken some amazing tours.  Large tours, but great ones.  We are so blessed to serve in these places and so blessed to have such amazing people come in from all over wanting to feel the spirit and wanting to be uplifted.  Those are the best tours by far... with the people who don't want to just hear the history and look at the cool artifacts, but with the people who come ready and prepared to apply what the saints went through and how they overcame those trials and challenges to their own lives.  Also those just ready to feel the spirit and learn by the spirit.  I can't even describe how great it is to experience this with the people who come from all over.  To be in the room with them while the spirit is teaching all of us and to see them cry, get emotional and to hear their testimonies.  It just strengthens our testimonies every time.  
I am learning more and more every week.  It's awesome.  Newel K. Whitney was called as the bishop ... the 2nd bishop in this dispensation.  He didn't think he could do it.  He didn't think that he could take on such a huge responsibility.  But really, Heavenly Father had been preparing him the whole time.  Newel had a store, he knew everyone in the community, he was the best record keeper, he loved everyone, always looking out for everyone and served constantly.  He was constantly trying to become like our Savior.  That sounds like a pretty good bishop to me.  Newel prayed... he prayed long and hard for Heavenly to help him and he received an answer.  Heavenly Father said that He would give Him strength.  

I know without our Heavenly Father we would be nothing, we couldn't do it.  I know that without the sacrifices made by our Savior, we would be nothing and couldn't make it in this life as well.  But to know that we are loved by a LOVING Heavenly Father and a LOVING brother who sacrificed for us and knows us all individually is so comforting.  And to know that they will never turn their backs on us, they will always be with us. When I came out, I didn't think I could make it.  Now I know I can.  I have seen Heavenly Father's hand.  I know that we have to continue in faith and expect miracles.  Not just expecting them once, but expect them everyday.  I know that faith is walking a few steps out of light into the darkness and expecting our Savior to light our path.  It will happen.  Not might.  I know that whatever we ask for in faith, we shall receive.  We can receive strength to do anything.  We can make it through anything. Our strength comes from our Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ.
I love learning... I love seeing miracles and I love my Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ.  I love all of you...more than you know.  Expect miracles to happen.  I know they will.  I have seen it.
Sister Johnson
"Don’t count the days.  Make the days count."
ps- My new address... I am able to receive anything here. Probably the best place to send stuff! 
 Its...234 New Castle Drive, Aurora Ohio 44202
Pss- I know what I am going to be when I grow up... haha

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Know That the Atonement is Real.

Alright Happy Birthday to my favorite sister ever!  I love you Keeks.  What are you going to do today?  Also.... Kory, good luck on the mission.  Have a safe flight to Mexico City today.  You will be so great.  :)  E-mail me every week.  Don't forget.  And I need your e-mail address too.

So... it is transfer week.  Which means... new address!  Everyone kept trying to call what was going to happen, but no one was right.  I am leaving :(  They text and said I am being out-zoned.  I have no idea where I am going, but I have to pack up today.  I was sad when I found out, but it will be good to meet new people.

Guess what?  I have been kinda teaching work outs... it is off and on.  Lots of the sisters said it is too hard and so they stopped.  But I got some new ones for when we go to Kirtland to work out with. :)  I also got sick this weekend... I didn't even go to church :/  The Fourth didn't even seem like the 4th of July.... no one was outside!  It was dead, so weird.

So I can't remember if I told you about the families we found and started teaching.  One of the families, the mom's name is Tina.  She is so sweet.  We had a lesson about the Book of Mormon and it was just really hard to actually get through the lesson and all I kept thinking was to just establish more of a relationship.  Then a video I had watched on Mormon channel called "My New Life" popped in my head... so I asked her to watch it when we left.  Well, we did and then when we left, we were like, ahh man who knows what will happen :/  Then we get a text from her the next morning... It basically said, "This is Tina, I talked to my hubby- he said he stands by us in whatever decision we make and I downloaded the Book of Mormon, watched the video you said to watch and I haven't slept all night and I can't wait until I meet with you guys again!"  It made us so happy! :)

Brother Lauck decided to go back to his old church...  and I went on exchanges last night with Sister Christensen (from the Paxton's ward in UT) and we went and taught him.  We were outside teaching him and it started raining, but we were all so focused on our conversation that no one even flinched.  We also didn't get through that lesson... the adversary had definitely been working on him.  All I could think was to bear testimony... the spirit was definitely there, I really hope he turns back around.

I was looking back on my journal yesterday and I wrote in my journal how I never knew how I was going to ever be able to teach without thinking so much.  I am embarrassed to say this, but In the MTC, I definitely wrote out what I was going to say. haha.  To think that was just a couple months ago.  I am starting to see the changes and the atonement really working in my life.  I know that we really can change.  It is easy to change.  It's just as easy to change as it is to change your mind.  As we come to understand true doctrine, we can immediately change.

When I was little I thought that the atonement was just used to say, "sorry mom and dad for arguing".  Now I know the savior suffered and died so he can relate to us, so he can feel our pain, so we can never say, "no one understands".  I know it is part of the plan so that we can have eternal life, but it really is so much more.  I don't think I will ever fully be able to understand the atonement.

From this last week, I have learned that it really is my choice to use it.  I also learned that I can never think to myself... I can't change, I can't be that good, I can't be that good of a missionary... to say that is denying God's power and means you and I truly don't understand the atonement.  We can ALWAYS change.  When we are told that we have immense potential, it is so true.  The prophet didn't just become the prophet, he had to study and work so hard and used that atonement daily, to learn, to grow, and to become like Christ.  It takes some effort on our part.

I read something that says, "Be all that You Can Be" from the U.S Army.  But I and the Army or we don't know all that we can be.  The Lord says, "Let me make of you all that you can be."  The ONLY way to have our amazing, best, true potential is only through the Lord and His atonement.  It is up to us personally to use it .  It's up to us to let Him mold us.  I know I need to keep humbling myself and turning my desires, wishes, dreams all to Him and my full heart... not just my actions.  If you surrender you heart to the Lord, He wins and you win. If you win, you both lose,. The only way to win is to lose.  Lose ourselves to the will of the Lord.

I know that the atonement it real.  I know that we can use it to let it change us.  I know that this whole Plan of Salvation really has been designed in our favor to our success.  I know that when we are changing we are humbling ourselves and becoming aware of our weaknesses and growing in faith.  I know it's my responsibility to access this atonement and put my soul in His hands to let Him change me.  I love this Gospel.  It's simple and easy.  Life is what is hard, the gospel makes it great.

Love you all. Good luck Kory. Happy Bday Kiki.

Love always,

Sister Johnson

ps~ I have pics I need to send, but keep forgetting. There is just a pic of Brad Roberts haha.  In his suspenders, short shorts and opened button shirt... haha its just great. soooo country.

“There are two ways you can go with pain.  You can let it destroy you... or you can use it as fuel to drive you to dream bigger, work harder”.  

If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what make us think we’d be happy with more?
Brad Roberts (center) with Sisters Johnson and Joseph.
 Roomies - Sisters Esplin, Nance, Johnson and Joseph.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fasting with a Purpose

Dear family,
How are ya'll doing?  How is Kory doing and getting ready for his mission?  Kory, you should write me :)  It's almost time for you to leave!  And your leaving on Kiki's bday?  That is cool! By the way... I think it's some birthdays this week, Aunt Laura, Matthew and Chanda.  Happy birthday!  Speaking of Matthew... a couple came to the visitor center just getting home from their missions in Philly.  Elder and Sister House? They said to tell Matthew "Hi" :)
This week seemed to go by really fast.  We had some awesome times.  We had training with President Vellinga and some of the head sites Directors and Elder Sorensen.  The director was actually one of the ones who made it possible for sister missionaries to dress somewhat cute on their missions.
So Brother and Sister Edwards (in ward-kinda)... they want to get skinny so I wrote out the "my body makeover diet" and just within this last week they have lost over 10 pounds!  I didn't think they would lose so much so quick, but they are super proud and Sister Edwards was like... I want to die every morning when I am eating those egg whites.  It's super funny.
At church yesterday everyone said that there were people looking for me.  They said "Bishop Johnson's grand-daughter is serving in this ward!" and I guess Lauri Nunley-Malolo and her husband came and were talking to me about how they know my whole family!  Everyone in the ward knows the Nunley's.  One lady said she had the biggest crush on Randy and she wished he baptized her. haha.
We also had a bonfire last night at a less actives home.  The Roberts:)  It was so fun!  So many people came... the Robert's invited all of their family and even people from their church and tons of our ward members came and we had s'mores and we shared a message with everyone.  It was really successful.  The other sisters who serve in our ward with us... they came and have a couple new people to teach.  The bonfire was really helpful for them and then Brad called this morning saying how much he loved it and he wants to do it again. :)
Oh, but something cool happened.  We go downstairs to meet up with the family we were about to take on tour and they introduce themselves... and we take them into the movie and then... he starts telling us how he is an Area Seventy. haha  So we took a member of the Seventy on tour.  I got a little nervous after that :)   He had a lot of good insight... he liked to talk, it was a really good tour.  He brought all his oldest grandchildren.  I believe his name is Elder Chedister :)
Did you know that there are beer drive throughs?  I see them everywhere!  Also, I have also never seen so much road kill in my life.  I always kinda wanted to live in the country, but probably not ever anywhere this country. :)
A little church history... :)  In the Whitney Store there is a trade and work room.  After Brother Whitney became the bishop, it actually became one of the first bishop storehouses.  The storehouses that we have now are quite a bit bigger, but it is so neat to see where it all started.  The saints would fast for 2 meals.. or 24 hours just like we do, except they would actually give a chicken and actually bring in the food that they would eat as their fast offering.
I was thinking about how fast Sunday is coming up this next week and to be honest... I am not the best faster.  I just get headaches and count down the time until I can eat again.  I am working on becoming better, so I thought I would share some of my thoughts. :)
Fasting is supposed to help us come closer to Heavenly Father and strengthen our faith.  So how can we make our fast more meaningful? ...

1. Always start out and end with a prayer.  The sons of Mosiah in Alma 17:3 talked about how they had MUCH prayer and fasting.  We should have much prayer and pray not only beginning and end, but during in our hearts as well.

2. Purpose.  If we fast with a purpose, it will be so much easier.  Fasting is a form of worship and is showing our gratitude and can really strengthen our testimonies.

3. Honest Sacrifice.  When we are sacrificing it makes us teachable.  It is between us and the Lord.  We should be honest with ourselves as well.

4. Paying a generous fast offering.  These funds are used for the poor and needy.

I heard something where someone was talking about our pulmonary and cardiovascular systems and how they need each other!  They provide living.  That is the same for the law of the fast and fast offerings.  I never really thought about it, but you can't do one without the other.

The blessings will be ours if we participate in meaningful fasts.  We are promised to have a clearer mind and spirit, develop courage and confidence, increase our faith and even gain control of our appetite, etc.

It can be hard to fast sometimes, but I know that if we follow these steps and even pray to remember the purpose of your fast, it will become easier and a sacrifice worth making.
I am sorry I write so much and that this wasn't very organized, but I hope you have a wonderful week.  May we all have a meaningful fast this next Sunday.
Love you, love you, love you :)
Sister Johnson
ps~ it's transfers next week, I don't want to leave Rootstown!
"It’s not about being the best.  It’s about being better than you were yesterday."