Wednesday, October 22, 2014

And Then There Was a Week....

Hoi hoi hoi!!!

J'honge honge what a splendid week! (Say that "ch-yong-a-yonga" Promise it's Dutch) Time is a flyin as I prepare to head to Europe in less than a week!

We got a bunch of new zendelingen this week, and haha, oh their dear little faces. I love them! They are so lost here, and they literally come to Sister Manning and I for Everything. Which is great! It's just that, well, I don't really know what to tell you when you just got your wisdom teeth out and there is food stuck in the empty socket...het spijtme, my dear. :) But it is fun times. Two St. Georgians in my zone, goin to Sweden! Drew Luke and Nate Jones! Comps and everything. We have fun times being friends. I also saw Hannah Schone this week, she is such a good soul.

Chad Lewis was our devo speaker on Sunday and Elder Godoy came yesterday. Can't go wrong there! They were incredible.

I had the absolute privilege of performing the musical number with Elder Hunter on Sunday. He sang "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul," and it was beautiful. I kept thinking "why am I the one that gets to do this? Why am I so lucky that I get to work with Elder Hunter, who is not only insanely talented musically, but has the talent of a magnificent testimony? And we get to share our testimony through music, here, at the MTC, together? Why do I get to use my talents so early on, when there are so many others with the same talents as me?" I never thought I would have that opportunity. But I am so so grateful for it.

I'm going to miss the safety of the MTC, but I can't wait to spread the gospel abroad! Go missionary work! The gospel is true!


Zuster Johanson

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

One Down

Only 17 months left????
I can already tell that I'm going to miss this.
My favorite thing about being a missionary is being set apart from the world. You just get to have the Spirit so strongly all the time (you know how I mean) and the MTC is such a safe place, where everyone is trying to do the same thing and do their best and they're just happy you're there.
I had to go in the "real world" a couple times for some medical appointments, and the pressure instantly just jumps on you. In the MTC, fashion, style, hair, make up, weight, popularity, cool experiences and accomplishments - they're not really a factor. Like I said, all that anyone really cares about is you being a good missionary. I love missionaries!

Have you all seen Meet the Mormons?? Well I haven't, so you all should. Apparently it is doing super well and it's really cool and it's a great missionary tool. Go see it and tell me about it.
We learned a lot about technology and missionary work this week, and oh man, it is crazyyy awesome!!! Some of the things the Church has going up around Christmas the Christmas message and the ads....(ya, they might've given us MTC missionaries a sneak peek ;)) Oh, you're gonna love it. Technology is such a cool blessing!!

This week was mostly just mission stuff, nothing over- the-top exciting or eventful. 
Sister Fleming is one of my favorites here. We run 3 miles together every other day and spreken (speak?) over our feelings, because we are both feelingy kind of people. God knows me so well :) He also gave me a companion that loves to work super hard with me. Poor Sister Manning has been sick this week, but she just keeps pushin through. I finally made her go to the cold clinic they have here ecuz I was tired of her seeming so miserable and trying to still be a happy hard working missionary.
Which, tell Makayla that I am so happy for essential oils! Man, OnGuard every night. I've had a couple minor symptoms, but it's miraculous that I haven't got a full-fledged yucky cold like everyone else here (especially because my immune system has gotta be shot with all this non-sleeping I do. Actually, I don't even know how I have friends here, because I am probably a tired little skunk all the time. Good thing missionaries are nice). 

Ah ah have any of you heard of the story President Monson tells of Peter Maurick?? (I'm guessin on that name spelling; I speak Dutch, not German) Our fantastiche choir guy told us how he met him in the temple the other day! In GC a couple years back, I believe, President Monson told the story of when he went to a temple dedication and suddenly, at the beginning of the dedication, felt prompted to call on Peter Maurick to speak. He found out that Peter Maurick wasn't even at the dedication, he was supposed to come to the second dedicatory session the next day.
Meanwhile, Peter Maurick is the bishop in a council meeting, and he is to be the speaker there. The meeting is about to begin, and Peter feels prompted to go to the temple. He tells his counselors, and they say "um, no, you're the speaker at this meeting, you can't just leave." So he says ok. But then he feels it strongly again. So he says "too bad, I gotta  go" and up and leaves.
They drive pretty darn fast to the other side of town to get to the temple, the whole time not knowing why they're going.
 President Monson, though he has been told otherwise by his counselors, gets up and announces that Peter Maurick is going to be the next speaker, even though he knows that Peter is not in the temple. Just then, Peter Maurick walks in and walks straight up to the pulpit and says "I'm going to tell you how I got here.."
Can you believe that?? And in the temple the other day, Brother Maurick told our choir director "isn't it scary to think what would've happened if I hadn't listened?" (Brother Maurick was the sealer at the temple that day. So cool)
So that is now a major theme for my mission. I can not afford to not listen!! And neither can anyone else! What if God needs us somewhere, and because it seems illogical, we miss it? How tragic that would be. Another fantastic lesson from President Monson.

The other day in devotional, these elders in front of me told me I had a loud voice. I was embarrassed for a moment, but then I thought,  you know what, I'm a missionary. And I am so darn excited to be one and I only get this chance once, so I'm going to sing to my God as loud as I want. And so I do, every time :) They really have you sing some rousing hymns here, like all the battle cry hymns in the book. It is amazing with a bunch of other valiant servants of the Lord in one place. :) How can you not sing out!?

Oh, another thing!! I found out this week that I GET TO CALL HOME WHEN I'M AT THE AIRPORT, WHAATTT? Seriously, nobody told me that. I get my flight plan this Friday, so then I'll know details, but anyway, I don't know how we wanna do that, but there it is. Let me know what you can work out, parentals.

My spiritual thought for this week: Go find the talk "Unleashing the Dormant Spirit," a BYU address by F. Enzio Busche. It has potential to change your life. It did for me this week. 

Also, do any of you know why God calls 18-19 year old missionaries? It's kinda crazy. I'd love to hear thoughts on that, because I've been thinking about it a lot. Send me your thoughts. :)

I love you! And I love God! And He loves you too! Go missionary work!


Sister Johanson

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I am one of the 88,000

Goede Dag! Hoe gat het met jullie? Ik hopen alles well.
That's right, I speak Dutch.

Half way! I'm half way outta the Empty Sea. And it's getting to the point where I feel like I just had p-day yesterday. In a week and a half I'll get my flight plan! That's like, a major thing here. You always know when someone has just got their flight plan. I guess ecuz it makes the whole thing more real or somethin. Third week is the absolute best though!!!! I'm really starting to love being a missionary every day (which is harder than you think your first couple weeks adjusting to the Empty Sea..). However, as incredible as it is here, I am starting to feel like there's gotta be more than this. There's gotta be more to a mission than sitting in class for 12 hours and pretending to have investigators. I'm just sayin.

J'honge honge, what a week! Sister Manning and I have seen many struggles and finally some small successes. Nothing brings ya together more than struggling :) Unless it's finally succeeding. :) Ahh just thinking back on it, we worked so hard this week haha... Us poor little Dutchies, just trying to share our little testimonies in terrible terrible Dutch. :)

We had to teach a member in Dutch..ayaya hahaha Elder Calhoun! "That ain't the language they taught me in the MTC!" Seriously though. He had a nice deep voice and his Nederlands was so beautiful, but right after we walked in, I thought, "What in heavens name is that language he's speaking?" I had no idea what he was saying most of the time... He tried to tell us a story that involved words like "collega" (companion/colleague) and "Vietnam..." So he's sharing war stories with us and Sister Manning and I are just nodding and smiling the whole time, praying for the gift of tongues. :) And then we taught him about obedience. :)

And we have this one "investigator..." Claire is her name. She's very independent, nice but pretty set in her ways. After our second lesson, we had no idea what to teach her. She wasn't being very receptive to anything we tried!!!! So we prayed and prayed and searched and talked and oh man prayed some more. After a series of truly inspiring moments, Sister Manning and I both instantaneously felt the impression to teach her about the Savior. Perfect! My most favorite topic! And I totally know words in Dutch about Christ. And what better way to bring the Spirit to someone?
But during our lesson, as I was sharing a scripture, I looked up to see Claire actually nodding off! She was falling asleep as I was bearing testimony of my Savior and Redeemer, the man who changes lives and saves us all! I was completely heartbroken, and all Dutch went out of my head and I was useless for the rest of the lesson.
Ahhhhh!!!! I'm not even in the field yet and I'm frustrated and upset over people not loving what I love!
Also, not being understood is a bit of a problem. Ah vel :)

Ooh, but I got to play the piano!! These two girls just happened to need an accompanist and went around the residence hall looking for one, and came upon me. Yayayayay! They didn't make the audition though... But! Elder Hunter heard of it, and now we are auditioning this week! He can't decide between "This is the Christ" or "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul." Basically, he can't go wrong. 
Elder Hunter... Anyone watch the Priesthood Session? He was the solo kid in "Ye Elders of Israel". He's in my district, is from Scotland, and has done so much with the Church productions. If you watch the 2014 youth theme music video, he's the kid playing piano. Very talented, very accomplished young man, and he is such a good missionary. So basically, I'm incredibly privileged to be his accompanist. Hey, I'm just happy to be playing the piano. :)

Algemene Conferentie!!!!! I sincerely hope you all watched General Conference, however, there is nothing quite like seeing it in the MTC. I don't what it is, but GC is just incredible as a missionary. I wish we could all just get together and talk about it! Oh, I loved it so much. 

Oh, our Sunday devotional was by Vai Sikahema. (Any of you sports guys know him? Philadelphia? Sports reporter?) So he was the coolest thing to happen at the MTC yet. He is an incredible missionary! He does missionary work all the time! He had so many good stories. He told us not to take notes, but that we had to write our families about him, and tell them to get on with missionary work! :) The overarching theme of his talk was that if you earnestly pray and seek for someone to bring to Christ, you will absolutely find someone. I challenge you all to join with me in being missionaries. :) Like Elder Bednar said, you aren't trying to up the numerical statistics of the Church, or convince or coerce, or sell a product. You are sharing what you love; what has helped you when you were hurt. You are sharing your remedy for the pain of mortality, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't be afraid. :)

Can you believe that this weekend, two years ago, we knew I would one day be here? And now here I am, one of the 88,000 missionaries, trying to bring the world to Christ. I am in love with it. It is truly my dream come true and there is nowhere else I would rather be. 

Thank you all for your prayers and your love and your support. I am so so so grateful for such a wonderful family, and I tell that to Heavenly Father every day. I pray all is well, and that in some small way, my mission and my prayers can help each of you.

Tot ziens!

Zuster Johanson

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Survived Week Two of MTC

Week two down! 
They say the first three weeks are like going uphill and the last three are like going down. I've yet to find any false information that I've been given about the MTC (other than I have not tried the orange juice or rice krispies, so I'll just have to trust that what I've heard about those is true as well) so I'm assuming that's true.

I don't remember this week...! It feels like P-day was only two days ago, but I don't know what I did in that time...

One of the dear sisters in my district, Zuster Twiggs, has been having major medical problems this week. She has had stomach issues for years, but she thought she figured them all out to come on the mission. It's been heartbreaking to see her in so much pain and worry over whether she will be able to stay or not. It's been strengthening for our district though, to realize that as homesick or whiny or tired as we get, we would never really want to go home, and we would never wish that on anyone else. Our district just wouldn't be the same if any of us left!! Zus.Twiggs is doing better these last two days, but we still pray for her constantly. 
My prayers were answered this week! (not an uncommon phrase as a missionary) I have been praying and pleading that I could just stop being so selfish and think more about others and find ways to serve better. On Sunday, my companion and I were called into a meeting with the branch presidency and they assigned us to be the new zone sister training leaders (zSTL's). I was so excited!! Our zone consists of Bel/Neth, Denmark, Suriname (cuz they speak Dutch), Sweden, and Norway, I think. There are some really great missionaries going to Europe. :) And all the girls are so sweet and dedicated and now I get to work with them all personally! And I can help all the new little missionaries when they come in! I love new little missionaries. A week in the MTC really makes you feel so much more experienced than the freshies, and you just get so sympathetic/empathetic for them on their first day because you know what that first week feels like. My district sisters constantly tease me because of an instance in which I was talking to a new missionary and I put my hands on her face and told her "you can make it!" I just have such hope for them! And if I can make it, they certainly can.

Hey, I was an elder once! (my comp loves this story) 
When we go to gym time, they have a big board of clear slots that you put your name tag/ID card in. When you're done working out, you put your tag and card back on (we always always have name tags on, even when we trudge to sack breakfast in our pajamas at 6 am). 
Sis. Manning and I were in a bit of a rush one morning, so we grabbed our name tags from the board and bolted to get a shower (waiting in line for shower=yucko), get ready, and get to class.
While sitting in class, I realized I hadn't written my entry date on my little pink sticker yet (us sisters put our "first day stickers" on the back of our name tags and write the date we entered the MTC on them. Oh the sentiments of sister missionaries). So I took off my tag to write it, and was sad to notice that my sticker wasn't there. :/ I flipped my tag over and realized that it didn't say Zuster Johanson! I had been Elder Matos for nearly 2 hours!!! I don't know how no one noticed that one....

Our new teacher, Sister Jiushau (tall, lanky, super funny), in a private moment with Zus. Manning and I, told me that when she was on her mission, she wondered why it was so hard to be a missionary. She realized that it's because you are constantly looking your weaknesses in the face, every moment of every day. This is so true! It is such a great trial because you can't ignore them; you absolutely have to face them and you can only overcome with the Lord's help (Ether 12). I heard once that when you are noticing more of your weaknesses, it means you're coming closer to God, because you are being perfected. So hard, but so good. :)

I love love love everybody! Thanks for reading my emails and for praying for me. I absolutely feel your strength. :) I pray for you and hope your week is wonderful!


Zuster Johanson