Monday, July 28, 2014
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Sorry I couldn't email, there was a tornado that did pretty bad damage to a small town two hours from Sioux Falls. All the missionaries in the surrounding area all met up there yesterday and we cleaned up as much as we could. There were some incredible miracles that happened in that little town. The Bishop of another ward out there, lives in that town, and he was gone all week on trek with the stake. Two tornado's went right next to both his house and his business, on either side, and did no damage. Both of his neighbor's houses are gone, but his is still standing. It was a blessing of being where you are suppose to. It was a great experience to help in the community. It was fun to see some missionaries I haven't seen in long time too.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Mom and Dad, I can hardly believe that it is almost Mother's Day again! I feel like a completely different person than the one that skyped last Mother's Day. I still feel like I have the same personality and such, but my desires and the person I'm striving to become has changed. I am excited to see everyone again! I hope you know I LOVE YOU! I don't think I realized how blessed I am to be in this family until I served a mission. There are "natural" blessings that come from being born in the covenant. Thank you for giving me that. In our family it is much easier to live the gospel because of the choices of our ancestors and YOU! I feel like our relationship has really grown since I came on my mission and I hope you know how much I really love you. You have taught me what Heavenly Father wants me to be, and I will forever be in your debt because of that. I miss you and sometimes it seems like forever before I will see you, but I know it will be here soon.
I'm a little nervous for my new comp. She has really really REALLY struggled. It is a humbling opportunity for me to be called to be her companion. My plans are to try to make her my best companion so far! I hope I will know what to do. I know that there is a reason I am serving with her and I want to go in and love her. Just keep her and I in your prayers. I want to put my bum in gear these last weeks I have with her and do all we can.
Brittany and Jaron are getting married this Friday. Leslie just send me a picture of their picture in the newspaper. I wish so bad I could be there for it. Rilee just wrote me too. She is about ready to get engaged. She has a ring picked out and everything. EVERYONE IS GETTING MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love it and hate it! ha ha. I just wish I could be there.
Thanks Jill for going in my place!
Zone Conference was a spiritual and emotional day for me, unexpectedly. We had worked extremely hard to put a powerful training together with the Elders. We really wanted this to be the best Zone Conference and I wanted us to do our very best. I wish you could have been their for the meeting because everyone's trainings was so amazing. I think it was the best zone conference I have ever been to. Our training was exactly what I had hoped for and came together better than planned. We taught on the spirit in conversion and the spirit was so strong in our training. After the meeting the assistants texted us and told us that our training was exactly what President Anderson had envisioned it to be. Also President told us personally that it was very well done. It was a very rewarding and fulfilling moment for me.
Also, this was my last zone conference as a missionary. I didn't know if they would have me bear my final testimony or not because I am leaving in the middle of a transfer and will barely miss the next conference, but they did. I wasn't prepared and I was definitely emotional. I never thought that moment would ever come. I used to think that 18 months was a long time, a big sacrifice, but it is so small compared to the sacrifice of my Savior. That moment made me want to finish my mission with all my heart, because it will be over before I know it. Apparently one of the elders recorded my final testimony, so if I can send it to you I will. It was interesting because I talked about what you said Dad, how you can tell if someone is a successful missionary by their children and their grandchildren and then President and Sister Anderson's training was on Celestial Marriage (ha ha I know what your thinking), but they focused on that being our true focus and goal for ourselves and those we teach. It was a very powerful training. The work is hastening!
This meeting was in Rapid City. It has been a really fun Zone.
The Elders in the background are my favorite part.
Well transfers did come! Even though this is my last transfer they are shipping me out. I have six weeks in a new area. I got called to be the Sister Training Leader in Souix Falls. President Anderson said that he was very impressed with what I have done as a STL here in Rapid and wants me to do the same for Sioux Falls. That was very nice of him. I was kind of hoping to end here or not end being a STL so I can just focus on the area and the work, but I also love giving trainings and working with the sisters. It is stressful, but also very fulfilling. I know that it is inspired and where I need to be at this time.
I am super sad to leave Rapid City. I will leave all the missionaries I have gotten so close too, I will miss being so close to President and Sister Anderson and working with them, and I will miss the people here. This weekend has been full of goodbyes. It has been harder than I had expected, especially because I love a lot of people here. Last night was by far the most difficult goodbye. We saved the Sheffields for last because I knew they would be the hardest. I think saying goodbye to them has been the hardest goodbye of my whole mission. We looked through Sister Sheffields mission pictures and then she came out and tried on her old rain coat from her mission that was HUGE. She put her name tag on and all. It was so funny and I got some great video's/pictures of it. We had a really good time, but saying goodbye was sad. They have influenced me in more ways than they probably will ever know. I have this deep love for them and for who they are. I want to be just like them and someday have a family like them. Sister Sheffield is the most spiritual person I have ever met and has taught me so many things. I will miss them. I can't wait for you to meet them. We have already determined that we are all going boating together ;) Meeting people like them has only confirmed to me again that this is where I needed to serve my mission and if I never had, I would have never met them. I know that President is inspired because everywhere I have gone has been exactly where I needed to go.
I haven't said goodbye to Hayden yet, but it is going to be hard. She has been a real blessing to me out here and I consider her a real friend. She was able to receive a blessing this past week because she has had some doubts. It was such a spiritual experience. She has so much potential, I dont' even then think she realizes it. I just want her to stay strong and stick with this.
The mission is truly an adventure, meeting so many people, being moved around, and learning things you can only learn on a mission. I'm so grateful for it. I leave tomorrow morning atto my new area. Wish me luck!
I love you,
Trying on her old coat from her mission
For P-day all the Zone Leaders, Sister Training Leaders, the Assistants and the Mission President went for a hike that took up the day. We went and hiked what is called Harney's Peak. Apparently it is the highest peak in the Black Hills and it is beautiful. The view of the Black Hills from there is a sight worth seeing. Afterwards, we had Mission Leadership Counsel all night!
Dear family & friends,
I don't even know how to begin to thank you for making me feel so loved. It seemed as if every day the mailbox was full of letters and packages from all of you. Thank you for thinking of me!
I have to especially thank my companion this week. She went all out for me for my birthday. I woke up with the apartment decorated, a small gift (Star Wars of course! You can never go wrong there!), and she made me home made syrup for pancakes and such ( I think she realized how much I loved that syrup that Aunt Heidi made for me!). Then she took me with one of our less-actives, Hayden, to breakfast $0.99 all you can eat pancakes! To top it all off she worked with Sister Sheffield to plan a b-day dinner for me. When we got to the Sheffield's home the whole house was decorated in my favorite color - green. Green balloons, green homemade birthday signs, green plates, etc. She made me one of my favorite meals, twice baked potatoes, chicken, and fruit. The best surprise was she set it up so we could roast SMORES!!!!!! BEST THING EVER!! I would have never thought I would get to do that, and I love smores! The Sheffield's made Sister Wittwer and I the cutest little scrapbooks for those we meet on the mission to write a note and leave a picture. They really went all out. I love that family so much. They really made my b-day special. I got to eat my favorite food, have my favorite dessert, and spend it with my favorite family here! I couldn't have asked for anything more perfect! I also know that it all came together thanks to my companion. I really appreciate all she did for me. It sure meant a lot.
It was funny though, as soon as I thought my birthday had come to an end, it seemed like little things kept happening that would make my whole day. After we got in for the night, around, we get this pounding on our door. First, you must know that our apartment is very difficult to find. We live in a basement of a member, but it is in the back and hard to find. So we NEVER get people knocking on our door, unless it is the member that lives upstairs, but she had told us she was going to be out of town. So this scared us, ha. I opened the door and as soon as I saw the pizza man I just began to laugh. I knew instantly who that was from :) Thanks Mom and Dad! I had to laugh though because the pizza guy said he had knocked on the front door of the house for 10 minutes. We are lucky he found our door!
The second thing that happened that was a complete surprise was actually on Sunday morning. We were at the church early for a meeting. We were making copies when this guy in the hall way comes in and says "Are you Sister Johnson?" I said "Yes." Come to find out, his wife works with Leslie, and he served here for his mission and was back for a visit. They had been trying to find me during the week to give me a birthday package from her. It made my whole day! He asked me if I was close to Leslie, and I told him, yes! That she had kept me on the right path. I love you Leslie!!! BUT, when I opened the package that morning it was all cookies....and it just so happened to be a fast Sunday...all of us missionaries were dying. :) I loved it. Thanks again everyone.
We made s'mores together
Thanks for the pizza, Mom and Dad!
Hayden, the 21 year old less-active we have been working with wrote me the sweetest note for my birthday. She talked about how she felt like we were meant to come at this time in her life, to be her friend, and teach her the gospel, and to remind her that God still loves her. She said something a long the lines of "I know that I am not a baptism or anything, but you helped me when I really needed it." It came at the perfect time too. I have been having a difficult time feeling like the past six months here I haven't seen a lot of success or felt like I have made much of a difference, but it was a good reminder that I did get to help someone. Hayden has been a miracle in this area. I feel like I have made a true friend in her by teaching her the gospel.
Hiking with Hayden
And be not moved
I feel like I am at the best part of my mission. I have the most desire to share the gospel than I ever have. I have prayed more and worked harder because I want to share what I know. Working with Sister Sheffield has opened my eyes to the gospel even more and I want to see her be successful! As we were talking I felt prompted to tell her something, and before I even had a moment to think about it, it came out of my mouth. I told her as a representative of Jesus Christ that one of her friends will accept the gospel, that the Lord would bless her for acting. It was a spiritual moment for me because I truly felt like the spirit was guiding my words and that it would happen. I love the Sheffield family, they have played a huge role in my mission and in the person I want to become. I am happy and I know it is because of sharing the gospel.
This is the Elders we share a Ward with. After filling out our progress report, we came out and found that they had parked their truck right in front of our car! Say WHAT?
We worked again in Hill City this week. I like being in the small towns again, it feels more like the rest of my mission. We found this Hispanic family in Hill City that let us come in. It is a family of four girls and the parents. They are all so cute! The mother doesn't speak Spanish, but the kids do. So the 13 year old daughter translated while we taught. She had questions about the after life, so we did our best to teach them. Stephanie, the daughter, was so cute. I asked her if she would say the closing prayer, she was nervous, but I had her repeat what I said and the spirit was so strong. I just had a moment of recognizing how great my calling is. I got to teach someone to pray for the first time in her whole life. What a blessing it is to witness that. She was so excited about it and said she would pray every day. We have a return appointment with them this Saturday and I'm excited about it.
Sister Witwer and I taught this man in Hill City named Matt. He is a very religious man and knows a lot about the scriptures, but doesn't attend a church anymore because he doesn't feel like he has found the right one. He said something that really stuck out to me. It is simple, but very true. He said, "You can talk about someone, even when they are not present." He was talking about God. How we can talk about Him but that doesn't mean He is there. He said that is how he has felt at most churches, that they talk about Heavenly Father, but He is not there. As I sat there and pondered about what he was saying, I reflected on many of the experiences I have had with the church and the feelings I had received. I have felt Him there in so many meetings at church, conversations with friends, investigators, less-actives, and in my own personal prayer with God. I felt the spirit even in that moment remind me of those feelings that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, our found in this church. I was able to bear my testimony to Matt of those things and I know he felt the sincerity of my testimony. We taught him about the priesthood and have an appointment with him this Saturday and I hope it goes well. I am excited about it. But what he said has really stood out to me. It has made me look at every lesson taught, to make sure we are not just talking about God. I want to make sure I do all I can to bring Him into the lessons.