Monday, July 22, 2013
On July 22, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
Hello my friends and family! Thanks for the love!
So...J-Pop is hilariously weird. One of the most hilarious things ever is seeing a Japanese gangster in a low-rider Prius blasting Japanese gangster rap and eating a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. HAHA! Seriously, I almost fell off my bike, I was laughing so hard.
This week, I ate my first disgusting thing! It's called Okonomiaki. It's a cabbage pancake, smothered in mayo and the Japanese equivalent of BBQ sauce. Absolutely gross. First, my companion made it at home, and then we went out to eat on Saturday night, and I had to eat it again. And my companions eat theirs with octopus. Gross! But, it was fun. There are pictures of that. So, I think you would be thoroughly impressed with my chopstick skills! I am getting so good, and members are always surprised when we go to their houses for dinner. They always offer me a fork, to which I politely decline, and then amaze them! Haha.
This week, we also had our first earthquake! Wow! It was super small, I just noticed my desk move a little bit, but it was way cool! Fun times. The rain is still here. We had two days with sun last week, which was very nice. But, this week, only Wednesday. I am so grateful for the sunshine. I also have a pretty funny watch tan-line, which has never happened before. I think I'm finally used to the humidity though! I don't even notice it anymore, unless it gets really really hot, which hasn't happened in a while.
Something that's weird about Japan is riding the bus! It is CRAZY expensive! To ride the bus for 20 minutes costs about five dollars. WOW. I was blown away. So that day, I spent ten dollars on bus money. Crazy. But it was good, because we were about to talk to a really sweet girl and get all her contact information. Hopefully her mom will agree to let her meet with us. Her name was Keina-Chan.
Yesterday, we had someone at Church! YAY! Her name was Ui-Chan, we met her on the street. She said that she only came because she had a homework assignment, but it still was so great! The young women were incredible too, and they loved her immediately! It was a wonderful experience. Hopefully, she will agree to meet with us so we can talk more. She's way cute.
My ward is pretty wonderful. There are more members here than the Capitol Hill ward! It's unbelievable. You would not believe the amount of youth we have here. There are like twenty young women and ten young men. It's so awesome, and they are all so fun. We go to seminary with them once a week, which is hard and early, but it's fun to bond with the youth.
I love my district! They are great. The Elders are so much fun and they are such good examples of hard workers! I hope that my companionship will become more like them soon. Tui Shimai and her companions are also in my district. They are serving in Tagajo, but they are with us. So that's fun! I get to see her once a week. Tonight we have our first real teaching appointment! WOOHOO! Finally! We are teaching a man named Akazawa-San. We stopped him on the street two weeks ago, and we were finally able to set an appointment with him. YAY! Happy. I am not teaching as much as I would like... Hopefully that will change soon. I am constantly praying for someone to teach.
My testimony of Jesus Christ has been tested, that's for sure, but all is well. I am trying to access the deepest most abiding powers of the Atonement to find strength , and it's amazing the tender mercies I have found in the scriptures and all throughout the day. The Lord is well aware of me, and so are my Parents. They look after me. I am finding great strength in my temple covenants, especially when I have to bike up a big mountain. Strength in my sinews.
I have started the Book of Mormon over again! This time, I am marking anytime the Savior is mentioned, if He speaks, and His attributes. It's absolutely INCREDIBLE how many times He is mentioned, and I am not even done with first Nephi yet! Wow! I love the Book of Mormon. I hope that you will pick it up and find some much needed light within it's pages. I know you will, just as I do.
I love you all so much! I hope you know. I also want you to know that I am doing well and I am happy. :) I am grateful for a great mission president.
I finally got some stamps, so expect some mail soon.
Monday, July 15, 2013
On July 15, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
You would not believe the rain here today, wow. So this morning, at 7:00, we had to do this thing called the 171 call. Basically it's just a fast easy way for Rasmussen Kaicho to find out we are safe in case of a natural disaster, like an earthquake or tsunami. So this morning was a practice one! We left our apartment to TORRENTS of rain. It was falling in sheets and was crazy! I have never seen rain like that, except last summer when there was that flash flood in Denver. So we were on our bikes, and I have never been so soaked in my life. The rain went down the top of my rain jacket, and I don't have rain pants, so my skirt was all the way soaked through, and my shoes were so sloshy. I also learned that my Chrome bag is not as waterproof as they say they are... Luckily, I wasn't carrying my scriptures or anything really valuable, but my planner is now soup. Haha. But, we made it to the emergency safe house (a local junior high school), and made the call. Kubota Shimai's tube popped while we were riding back, so we had to walk most of the way. Again, so wet. It was nuts. But, the work must go one, so rain or shine, we are at it. It's good. Hopefully the next time we go housing and it rains, people will have sympathy on us and invite us in. That has yet to happen.
Great news, guess what? I FINALLY got mail this week!!! :D I got Iver and Sarah's announcement. SO CUTE. I loved the heart shirts; that was so cool and so very them. I loved it. But, it did make me trunky. Oh well. I also got mail from Brian Bergholm and the kids, Chelsee, Grayson, Olive, and Sabrina! It was wonderful! The letter from Chels was postmarked for the 2nd of July and I got all my mail on the 9th or 10th! So the mail gets here in about 10 days! Awesome! It was so great to get some love in the mail. :)
This week in Relief Society, it was one of the Lorenzo Snow lessons, and it was the one about pure charity and true religion. It could have been a beautiful lesson, but they made us break into groups and talk about how we support the priesthood, and it made me very, very sad inside. I didn't say anything the entire lesson. I hope that someday, women across the world will realize their worth. All I can do now is testify of the Savior.
This week, I had a great experience visiting a less-active member named Itabashi Shimai. She was so humble and so sweet, and I love her. She has such strong faith in the Savior and wants to follow him, but her husband is not a member, from what it looks like. She served a mission in Fukuoka, and she loves the Lord. And she's a drummer! It was so wonderful to talk to her about the Book of Mormon and to share our testimonies with her. Then, yesterday, she came to Church! It was so great to see her there, and to see the members loving her. That was on Friday, and that was the first time my whole mission I felt like a real missionary. :)
I love you all!
Monday, July 8, 2013
On Monday, July 8, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
Hi!! This last Saturday, we had a barbecue with the zone and all the YSA (young, single adults)in the zone, and I swear, it was 110% humidity and the sun was shining so it was like 116 degrees. I got so burned and I have never been so sweaty in my life! Hopefully my body will adjust more to Japan as the weeks go on. I got to have real Japanese food! We had Japanese BBQ, which was amazing. Yakitori. Oishiiiiiii. :) Guess what I ate and loved? Cow tongue! It was delicious right off the grill! So good. So at the BBQ, I got to hang out with one of my friends, Elder Nation! He's from Texas, but his friend Stephanie went to CSU and actually, with the help of Olive and I, joined the church about two years ago now! Elder Nation came to see her in Fort Collins for her baptism, and I totally forgot he was serving in this mission until I got here! And we are in the same zone! How cool is that?! It was so much fun to talk to him and get to know him more. He goes home in February, I think. It was great to see him.
We eat so much rice here, every meal! Haha. And my two Japanese companions eat way more than I do at every meal, it's nuts. This week, the ward members brought us a TON of food! I don't think we have to go grocery shopping for at least two more weeks. They gave us 8 boxes of curry, about 25 tomatoes, about 16 curi (cucumbers), and then a million boxes of pasta and sauce and Oreos and all sorts of other things. Then yesterday, the Akatsuka family fed all seven of us and they taught me how to make giyoza from scratch! I have a lot of time to practice and perfect my stills, so look forward to deliciousness when I come home.
We have one American family in our ward! They are the Browne family. Browne Kyodai is in the military, and they are stationed here right now, but I like them a lot. They speak English with me at Church, which is a nice refresher. This Saturday night, they took us out to an American burger joint, which was pretty good. It feels like I haven't eaten anything besides American food here, which is disappointing. But, I still have 11 and a half transfers to try all the food I want! This week, my companions were eating Nato. Disgusting.
It seems like June really kicked my family's butts, and it's really incredible how much our faith has been tried. I'll be honest, this last week was really hard for me. I got sick first of all, which wasn't fun, and I was just feeling really discouraged because opening an area is really hard, and I was so upset that we couldn't find anyone to teach. I kept questioning myself and saying things like ``why the heck am I here? I can't speak Japanese and no one wants to listen to us. Why bother?`` Yesterday was fast Sunday, and boy am I thankful for the Savior and His atonement. I earnestly fasted and poured my heart out in prayer to Heavenly Father that we might find someone to teach this week, and that I would have the courage to open my mouth and that I would be blessed with the Gift of Tongues. I was sitting during the Sacrament reading Be Still My Soul, because I know it's my dad's favorite hymn, and I read the words ``leave to thy God to order and provide.`` So I said ``Okay, Heavenly Father. I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief.`` To which He responded, very clearly, ``Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Be it unto you as thy faith increases.`` I was overcome by the Spirit, and I felt a little bit of peace. Later in the afternoon, we were waiting outside of KFC (yes, the American KFC) to meet Akatsuka Shimai for dinner and we stopped a man and ended up talking to him for half an hour and he gave us his phone number and wants to meet with us!!!!!! Wow. What an incredible blessing and tender mercy of the Lord. He really is aware of me. For a little bit there, I wasn't sure. But, I know He is. I just have to remind myself. I am so grateful for the Spirit and for the enabling power of the Atonement. I am grateful that I know Jesus Christ and that as I learn more to trust in Him and in my Heavenly Parents, that I will be blessed. They are aware of me, no matter how alone I feel. Life is really hard. It really is. But, with the Savior, all things are possible. I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.
So, on a more upbeat note, guess what? I'm am English teacher here! Our weekly service is called Eikaiwa and it's a free English class open to the public! I teach a beginners class, and a beginners women's class! It is so much fun, and I have had to learn how to speak very simply. It's been great; we have some wonderful non-member students that come, some of which have expressed interested in the Church, so that's always wonderful.
I love my family and friends. I think about you and pray for you constantly!
Monday, July 1, 2013
On July 1, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
I am so sorry that is it so late! I wanted to email earlier in the day but we had a nightmare trying to figure out our SUPER high-tech washing/drying machine! Yes, it does both. It`s way cool.
Anyways! I HAVE A TON TO TELL YOU! Haha. Yes, Monday is P-Day! So, you will be hearing from me sometime late Sunday night, Denver time. I`m sorry no one notified you that we arrived safely in Japan; that makes me sad. The flight was crazy long! 34 hours of travel time! AH! We got lost in the Narita airport when we landed in Tokyo, so we almost missed our flight to Sendai, but we made it with about ten minutes to spare. So, I had to use the restroom really bad in Tokyo, so Tui Shimai and I went to the bathroom and, OF COURSE, I picked the ONLY stall with a squatter toilet! Haha, it was hilarious. I walked out feeling super uncomfortable, laughing, and said, ``Well, that was an interesting experience...`` Haha. Luckily, every toilet I've used sense then has been a super fancy one, either with a bide (be-day), or with a heated seat. Those ones are super weird, haha.
Mom, you would not believe how humid it is here. Seriously, 100 percent humidity. I am having great hair. I wake up every morning with an afro, but as soon as I get it tamed, it looks awesome. I am serving in Izumi, which is a ``suburb`` of Sendai! It's about 15 minutes on the subway away from the main church building in Sendai. The Izumi ward is absolutely FANTASTIC! There's me and my two companions (I'll tell you about them in a minute), and two sets of elders, all in the same ward!! It's so much fun to have seven of us! My trainer is Kubota Shimai. She is 23, and is from Nagoya, Japan. She has been serving for 13 months, so she is very experienced in this whole mission thing. She is a pianist, and is very full of love. She speaks very good english, which is a little bit frustrating when you're trying to learn nihongo! But I love her. My other companion is Takata Shimai, from Osaka and Hokkaido, and she is brand new, just like me! In fact, we flew here together. It is crazy having two native companions! I have been immersed in the language. Every Nihonjin that I meet and talk to tells me that my Japanese is really, really good. I don't know if I believe them... haha, I still have so much to learn. The people here are so kind, it:s really incredible. We talk to everyone on the street and they all bow to me, and always ask me why I'm in Nihon. Most of the time, I can reply a little bit, but sometimes people look at me like I have four heads because what I say makes absolutely no sense. But, it's been good. All of the little kids stare at me as we bike by, and I made a baby cry at Church yesterday because my hair is so scary. Haha. My ward is amazing. We have a fantastic bishop who reminds me a lot of Dad and probably the best ward mission leader I've ever met, besides Dad. He is SO involved with the work, and his dendo fire (mission fire, as we all call it), is absolutely amazing. His name is Kajihara Kyodai, and he is so kind. My main goal these next couple of Sundays is to learn all of the member's names. Japanese names are so hard to remember! But, I am asking for divine assistance. The three of us Shimai had to speak in Sacrament meeting yesterday. That was interesting, but I just bore my testimony of the Savior, and the Spirit was definitely there, and I am grateful. The elders we are serving with are fantastic. Two are native, Ito and Nishida Choro, and they are great. So kind and humble. Nishida Choro is our district leader and he is so funny. This is his last transfer! :( The other two Chorotachi are gaijin like me. Dowdy Choro is from Australia and was actually in the MTC the same time as me, but this is his second transfer now. He's funny; all the ward members tell me that my Nihongo is better than his, but that is not true at all. The other Choro is Merkley Choro, and he is so awesome. He's from Mesa! And he plays the cello also! And he's only ten days older than me! The sad part is that this is also his last transfer and so he goes home in August. He's really a great missionary, and he helps me out a lot.
Sorry this email is so scatter-brained! I have a lot to tell you!
Surprisingly, I haven't had any real Japanese food yet! Well kind of. I had a bento box the first day we were here, but the rest has just been food in our apartment, which mainly consists of pasta (so american) and white bread and toast and LOTS of onions. We eat onions with every meal, even breakfast. They're good though, we cook them with soy sauce. The other night at FHE (it was on Saturday with the whole ward. FUN!) we had curry, and it was marvelous. I love curry, and Japanese curry is good. I haven't had to eat any seafood yet. It really isn't as prevalent as I had thought it would be, so I guess that's good. Nori is more prevalent, which is gross, but it's okay.
My mission president is so great, I love him and Sister Rasmussen so much. Rasmussen Kaicho is very funny and genki, and has a great vision for the mission. He loves the Japanese people and is very trusting in his missionaries. In my first interview with him, he asked me to pray in Nihongo, and afterwards, he was like ``Sister Johnson, where did you study Nihongo before you came on your mission?`` when I told him just the MTC, he was like, ``it's not good to lie to your mission president in the very first interview, Sister Johnson!`` haha, and I just laughed and assured him I wasn't lying, and he said ``well, you are definitely being blessed with the gift of tongues then!`` I was so, SO grateful to hear that! It's definitely true, the Lord has blessed me so, SO much with the language, and I am so grateful. Then, President Rasmussen said ``Sister Johnson, you have a beautiful smile. You are so full of light, and I am so grateful to have you here in this mission. Your presence will bless the work here. I am so grateful.`` It was a wonderful interview, and I am so excited to be working with him and Sister Rasmussen. She is such a sweet woman, and she reminds me so much of Gramma O. I already love her.
I am not having as much culture shock as I thought I would have. The only thing is that you bow to everyone you see, it's extremely important to address someone by their correct title, and every person in Japan is so, SO humble. My companions never let me do anything. They never let me cook or carry anything, or clean, it's kind of annoying. I have to be insistent if I want to do anything to help. But, I love them so much, and I am looking for ways to better serve both of them. Another thing that's weird about Japan are the traffic laws. I have never been so scared to ride a bike in my life, haha! It's insane how skinny the streets are here, and they drive on the wrong side of the road, and we're supposed to ride against traffic on the very narrow shoulder. I love being on a bike though, it's seriously the best! I am riding a Renault girl bike, with six gears. It's weird being on a gear shifty again, but it's definitely nice for the hills. We ride our bikes everywhere, and it is so fun. The landscape here is gorgeous. I have never been somewhere so green in my life! It's because it's so wet here. Seriously, my books are curling because it:s so humid. But, it isn't hot! In fact, it's quite the opposite! The rainy season here is cold because the sun is nonexistent. There's only been one day so far with (just a little bit) of sunshine. I am so grateful to have my sunlamp. Please tell Brian thank you so much and that he is my life saver. That's the only thing I would change about Japan, is the lack of sunshine. But other than that, it's beautiful. Oh yeah, my apartment. I sleep on the floor on a futon, and futons are much thinner here than in America. That's exciting.
The work here is...interesting, to say the least. There haven't been sisters in Izumi, ever I think, and so we came in to this ward completely empty handed. With that being the case, we tried a lot of door knocking and street contacting last week, but all to no avail. Since then, we as a district have decided that our focus is going to be completely on the members and how we can better strengthen our ward. There are about 70 people in the ward, and we want to work with the members to really gain their trust so that we can ask them for referrals eventually. So the next while is going to be less finding I think, and more teaching members and less-actives, which I am very excited about. The ward members are so great, and I'm excited to work with them. This is also my commission from President Rasmussen. He wants me to learn all the members names and use them and work with them all the time. I am excited to do that. My success will be measured by the relationships I can build in the ward. I am so excited to be here, finally. Yeah, it's really hard, but I love it so much. I hope that I will continue to grow to love it here, and that my Nihongo skills will grow.
That hour went by fast! I love you!