Monday, August 26, 2013
On Monday, August 26, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
So, this week, I had some good experiences! I was able to do some real old-fashioned Japanese farming! We worked in the bishop's storehouse with some of the ward members, and we farmed daikon, which is like a potato, but with way more flavor, and it's delicious. We also farmed nasu (eggplant!!!) and other things, that I didn't know what they were... but it was way fun! Rural Japan is GORGEOUS! It is so green, and the rice fields are beautiful! Also, Japanese scarecrows are hilarious, and they definitely fooled me... haha.
This week, we were given whale meat from the sisters serving in Tagajo! They got it from a member, and then gave it to us! It is still in the freezer, and I am terrified of it. It makes me so sad. Poor whales.
Last P-Day, it was zone P-Day, so we got together with all the Sendai missionaries and had a great big water fight! It was way fun, and we even got the Stake President involved! On Saturday evening, we had the opportunity to go to the final matsuri (festival) of the season! Matsuri are HUGE here! There are so many booths with food and toys and everything you can imagine! There were SO MANY PEOPLE, I could not believe it! Unfortunately, we went at night, so we didn't get an opportunity to really explore the festival. But we got to watch the fireworks! Fireworks here in Japan are incredible! They last for about an hour and are so big and creative and beautiful! They were so fun. The best part about the matsuri was going with the young single adults that are in Izumi. We were able to spent time with them and really build good relationships with them. It was wonderful. One of the pictures is a friend of mine, Shimajiri Yuko Kyodai. He is the one in the Johnny Cash shirt, which is AWESOME. Yuko is so funny though, and he's awesome.
This week, I did a lot of studying Jacob 5. I had never before taken the time to sit and study it, and boy, was I missing out! What beautiful, intricate, incredible scripture that is! In particular, I studied a lot the character of the Lord of the Vineyard. He is so full of love. More than seven times, he says, "It grieveth me that I should lose this tree." In the allegory, the Lord of the Vineyard does everything he possibly can for his olive trees. He loves every single one of them, and wants all of them to bring forth good fruit. I also loved that he labored WITH the servant. It wasn't just a bunch of servants out in the vineyard working, but the Lord of the vineyard was right there next to them. I am not alone. My best companion is the Savior, Jesus Christ. He is working right alongside me. When I speak of Him, He is on my right and my left, and He goes before my face. His spirit carries the message of His love into the hearts of those I talk to. These are grand blessings. And I am thankful.
I think the best thing that happened this week was that we finally got to teach Akazawa San! Akazawa San is the man that we first contacted on the street back in the beginning of July! He is so busy with work, and we had long given up on trying to meet with him, but he called us this last week and set an appointment with us! It was so cool! We met him at the Church and gave him a tour of the building, and then we ended in the Chapel, and we ended up teaching him in there. We talked a lot about him, and he said that he doesn't understand God or know anything about Jesus Christ, but he has always felt like there was something bigger driving the forces of the world. He has a great desire to help people and to serve others. We were able to bear testimony to him of the relationship we have with God, and that we all lived together before we came to this earth. We talked about family and about how we have the opportunity to establish relationships for eternity. We talked about how through the teachings of Jesus Christ, Akazawa San could know more happiness than he had ever before experienced. Afterwards, we sang Families Can Be Together Forever, and it was incredible the Spirit that filled the room. We sat in silence for several moments, and afterwards, Akazawa San said very quietly, "I don:t know anything about Jesus Christ, but there is something different about you three. You are glowing with light. The words of that song have pierced my soul, and I want to know why." Oh, what joy filled my heart and soul as he said those words! We have another appointment with him this week, and I can't wait to teach him more about the love and light and joy that I receive through my Savior, Jesus Christ.
I am so grateful for this miracle. This is why I am here. I am here in Japan to share light and love and joy. I am here to share the glory and knowledge that I have of Jesus Christ. I am here to "glory in my Jesus, because He hath redeemed my soul from Hell," (2 Nephi 33?) and I am so grateful for the privilege that I have to do so.
Jesus Christ is the light and life of the world. His Gospel is one of eternal love, everlasting joy, and perfect peace. I am so grateful for Him, and for Japan, and for the love that fills my soul as I proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in the Japanese language. There is just so much love I feel that I don't know what to do with it all! All I can do is share it, and so that's what I'll do. :)
I love you. I am so glad that I am here, even though it's hard. I have learned so much.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Oh, how I am feeling the love!!! Sarah is seriously the best for making cardboard-Shakira. I am tremendously thankful for that and for her wanting to make sure I was included in their wedding day. She is the best sister I could ever ask for!
It looks like it was a beautiful day full of joy! With the time difference, the sealing started at midnight my time, Saturday night. So needless to say, I didn't sleep. At all. Church yesterday was rough. But as I was laying on my thin, thin futon, I tried my best to teleport my spirit to the temple. I pictured in my mind the sealing room and all our precious family gathered around a little Sarah and Iver. My mind raced back to when the four of us were sealed for time and all eternity in that same temple. I still remember kneeling across the altar as a four-year-old and seeing the joy and the light in the faces of you and Dad. That was the same light and joy that I pictured to be in the faces of Iver and Sarah. It was so nice, even though I was tired. :) I am so happy that Iver and Sarah are married. What joy that brings to my heart! We have the best family! Someday, I will add to it, too!
Thank you for sending me pictures. They are so beautiful and I can't wait to see more! Can I be honest? I'm really glad the wedding is over. Now, I have absolutely nothing tying me to home. I no longer have a reason to be sad. I no longer have a desire to run away and get on a jetplane to come home! This is a great blessing. Now, I can move on. I can forget myself and finally GO TO WORK! I am grateful.
You think Denver is hot? Try being in 109 degree weather with 100 percent humidity, and then bike up mountains! Then tell me you're hot. I seriously can't believe summer here. I have never sweat so much in my life, but it's okay because EVERYONE is sweaty. All the time. I stick out because I turn red when I sweat, but that's okay. People understand.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for the birthday love!!! It was a really great day! I woke up and opened the package from you and Dad and Iver and Sarah, and I love everything you sent me! Thank you! After that, I had a lot of people show me a lot of love. We had district meeting, and our zone leaders were there for training, and after the meeting, they rolled back the curtain of the stage in the church and there was a huge white board with birthday love on it, and then they all decorated me with a lei and a tiara and a plastic sword, and then they showered me with gifts and cards and they sang to me! It was the best!! After that, President Rasmussen and Sister Rasmussen called me and sang happy birthday to me. Then, we went on splits with our new sister training leader, who is this cute Japanese girl. Her companions are two of my best friends from the MTC!!! So I got to spend my birthday with Gass Shimai and Johnson Shimai. That was wonderful. Later in the evening, the APs called and sang to me! They are two fantastic elders named Uchida Choro and Takase Choro. They are so fun and they are great friends of mine. Both of them think I'll be the first sister AP, haha. That would be cool. ;) But after that, my companions presented me with a homemade ice cream cake and homemade pizza and all this other wonderful food! Overall, it was a good day and I'm so grateful for the love that I felt from so many people. I definitely needed it. Also, please tell everyone thank you for me for all the birthday love I got in the mail! It was a good week for mail.
This week, we were able to participate in SMYC. I'm not sure what that stands for, but basically, it's EFY (Especially For Youth) for Nihonjin youth! President Rasmussen gave a big presentation, and about 50 of us missionaries got to go and work with the youth and teach them about the Book of Mormon. It was awesome; there were about 600 youth there, I'd say! So many Japanese Mormons! The conference was about three hours south of here, so I got to see a little more of Japan too, which was great. Lots of mountains and forest and rice. Lots and lots of rice. It was a good day.
This week, we were able to teach two lessons to our investigator, Kawamura San! It was good! We taught the plan of Salvation and we talked a lot about the Book of Mormon and how it could bless his life if he applies the principles that are within the Book of Mormon. After the lesson, Kubota Shimai asked him if he had any friends that would be interested in the Gospel, and Kawamura San said, ``Yeah, my friend Hayashi Koji San!`` So funny story. About seven weeks ago, we were standing on a street corner handing out flyers for Eikaiwa, and I met someone with a guitar and he was really cool! He said that he wanted to come to church because he wants to find the truth. Guess what his name was? Hayashi Koji San!!!!!!!!!! I was so surprised when Kawamura San said that!! It was so awesome! I knew there was a reason Koji San was in my thoughts, even though we were never able to contact him! So, Kawamura San is going to bring him to his next lesson, I think. Japan is a crazy-small world! It was a great experience!
My tongue is being whipped into shape! I have taken on the role of translator for the gaijin missionaries in my ward, and wow! My Japanese is skyrocketing! It's good. Bits and pieces of dreaming (when I actually sleep, that is. Insomnia sucks. It's never been this bad before) in Japanese now! So that's good. In my setting-apart blessing, I am blessed to come to know the beautiful language of the people. That is the poetry. I will learn soon.
So yesterday, we taught Gospel Doctrine, and we taught about temple baptisms. Did you know that Joseph Smith revealed to the saints that ordinance on my birthday in 1840? I didn't until last week. Super cool. But, it was a really great lesson. We read a lot from Doctrine and Covenants 128, and I read it in English to the class, and verse 22, I shouted! I yelled with joy! To match the words in the verse! The spirit was so strong in the class, and even though they couldn't understand the words I was saying, the Japanese members were all smiling because they could feel the joy, too. It was a great connecting moment for me and the ward members. I was grateful for it.
Yesterday, after church, I got to see my first baptism in Japanese!!! An 8-year-old boy in our ward got baptized by his Dad, and it was a great service! The baptismal and confirming ordinances in Japanese are so cool! I have never felt the Spirit in the way that I did yesterday before. It was a way cool experience, and I can't wait until that will be Kawamura San standing in the font! What a great day that will be. Hopefully I'll be here still.
Well, that's about it, I think. I hope you know how much I love you and miss you. I hope that I will get to hear from you in the mail soon!
I love you!
Monday, August 12, 2013
Thank you for the birthday love! I received the birthday package last Tuesday, the 6th! And the post man said that it was a day late! Five days!!!!! WOW! It was crazy fast! But, I haven't opened it yet, because I am waiting to have something fun to do on my birthday! I can't wait, even though I know what's inside it because of the customs form.
This week was eventful! Merkley Choro and Nishida Choro both went home, which was very, very sad for me. They have become some of my greatest friends! And I miss them a lot. But we got two new elders and they are great! One is named Ida Choro, he's from Tokyo and is in his fourth transfer. And the other Choro is a green-bean fresh from the MTC!!! His name is Malmrose Choro. I have taken on the role of translator because Merkley Choro went home, and yesterday in church, Heavenly Father blessed me with a miracle! It was another Gift-of-Tongues moment! I was able to understand about 92 percent of the Japanese that was being said and I was able to translate it for Malmrose Choro. I could definitely feel my Heavenly Father working through me as I was speaking. It was a wonderful experience.
I also had another fantastic experience this last week! I was able to invite someone to be baptized!!! Our street contact from two weeks ago ended up coming to church, and we were able to make an appointment to teach him. His name is Kawamura San. On Wednesday evening, we taught him about the Restoration of the Church through Joseph Smith. The lesson was definitely guided by the Spirit, and I was so thankful for that. My Japanese was far from perfect, but the Spirit was whispering to me that I needed to invite Kawamura San to be baptized, so in very broken Japanese, I did just that! And what was his response? ``If I find out that this is true, then yes!`` In that moment, I was filled with such joy and it was such a wonderful experience! Kawamura San needs to stop drinking coffee and smoking before he can get baptized, but we followed up with him, and his Book of Mormon reading is going very well! It was great, and I am excited to meet with him again soon. It was definitely a blessing that I needed.
So, Momma, I want to tell you about a really cool thing that I was able to do this week. The American family in my ward, the Brownes, are having lots of hardships right now. Brother Browne is having major kidney failure and has been in the hospital for over a week, so Jaelyn (14) and Jacob (16) have had to stay at home by themselves so Sister Browne could be at the hospital. We went to visit Jaelyn and Jacob and we were able to talk to them and talk about Christ. At the beginning, we were just standing in the genkan, and I asked if I might offer a prayer. In my prayer, I used these words: ``As an authorized representative of Jesus Christ, and with the authority of my calling, I ask thee, Heavenly Father, to place a special blessing on this house and on this family of peace, comfort, love, and safety.`` I proceeded to give a blessing through prayer on the Browne family. The spirit was tangible, Mom. It was absolutely incredible. I was filled with so much love for the Browne family, and I could feel the authority moving through my body. I cannot describe it adequately in words. There are no words to describe it. But it was incredible. I have power and authority, and I can use it to bless the lives of those around me. That power is given to me by Jesus Christ. I am His authorized representative. I really, truly believe that.
I am so blessed to have you as my momma. I hope you know how much I love you. I am very sad to be missing this week. You might understand how sad I am... but it's a lot. And I'm having a hard time, but I hope that once Saturday is here, I will stop having thoughts of ``I can still get on a plane and make it home in time for the wedding...`` I will try my hardest to stay busy these next few days.
I love you SO MUCH!
Monday, August 5, 2013
Two weeks worth this time! Sorry about that!
On Monday, August 5 Sister Johnson wrote:
So yeah, size 6 earthquake! I am totally fine, so don't worry about that. But wow, that was so crazy!! We were sitting in Relief Society talking about how to prepare things like food storage and emergency water for an earthquake, and the timing was impeccable. Right as we were talking, the whole building started shaking. My chair was lifted off the ground because it was shaking like crazy! The walls started to sway, and everyone started screaming. I don't think I've ever felt my heart beat so fast! But it stopped after about 12 seconds, and then there were a few after-shocks, but everyone was fine, and we all were kept nice and safe. Those 12 seconds were so intense for me. I was so caught up in my own head, that I didn't even think about what to do, but as I looked around, it was absolutely incredible and beautiful to watch the sisters in Relief Society rush to the aide of the older women and help them make it safely out from under the air conditioner and other big things. Everyone was so concerned about the welfare of others, and it really made me think about the Japanese people and how outward-thinking they are. I was amazed by the love and concern that I felt in that room. Yes, it was one of the most terrifying things I've ever experienced in my life, but I learned so much from it. Wow! The Izumi ward members are great! Elvis's song has a whole new meaning now! Haha. ;) You would not believe how scary it is to watch a building sway from side to side. I understand more the parts of 3 Nephi that talk about the earth trembling, and how terrifying that is. It makes that part even more real than it was already! But, we are all fine, and life continues on as normal.
This week was so weird! We had another earthquake earlier this week, but it was very small, and I hardly felt it. But that same day, it was Wednesday, we were able to have some great appointments with a member in our ward named Kikkawa Shimai. We went with her to the grocery store where we, with her, started talking to this woman about the Gospel. It was so wonderful to do missionary work with a member standing right there beside us! The woman gave us her address, and we intend to go follow-up with her this week. After that, we went to Kikkawa Shimai's house and did a mogi lesson with her and her daughter, Minori. She is 15, and it was way good! We talked about the Plan of Salvation, and the Spirit was definitely there. After that, Kikkawa Shimai gave us huge amounts of food, and then drove us back to the Church, but on the way there, we rescued a cat. It was a little bitty kitten that looked like Luna, and he had been hit by a car. So we picked him up and took him to the animal hospital. Needless to say, that was a very eventful day! But it was good.
Yesterday, we had two non-members at Church! One was our investigator, Tomomi San, and the other was an 18 year old guy we met on the street the day before. We talked with him at a stop light for about 20 minutes, and prayed with him, and invited him to come to church and he actually did! His name is Hawamura San, and we have an appointment with him this Wednesday evening.
So this week, the rain FINALLY stopped!!! We finally saw the sun after 17 days of pouring rain! What a great blessing that was! Wow. I am so grateful. But now, it is HOT HOT HOT! Woo! But, it is good.
This week, I have gotten a LOT of birthday love! Grandma and Grandpa O sent me a really pretty watch and some chocolate, and I've gotten a lot of cards from people, including the Goulds. That was absolutely wonderful! I think mail only takes 8 days to get here... So, yeah! Happy birthday to me for two weeks! Haha. :) Thank you to everyone.
Thanks for the love. I need it. Sending prayers and sunshine your way. Miss you all.
And last week, on Monday, July 29 Sister Johnson wrote:
I am so relieved to hear that you got my letter!!! Yay! I was hoping and wishing and praying that it would get there okay! That makes my day. I've gotten some mail, but my companions get mail everyday! I just get advertisements...haha. But it's okay.
So, I had a great week! Wow! It was absolutely incredible to see the Lord's hand in my life this week! We FINALLY had our first lesson, and we now have TWO investigators! Our first is named Takahashi Tomomi San, and she is interesting. She has been investigating the Church for over seven years. Our lesson with her was unproductive, and I really don't see us going anywhere with her, so after our lesson with her this next week, we will decide if we are going to continue teaching her. She is really sweet, and so SO cute, but she doesn't have a real desire to meet with us, so we'll see what happens. Our other lesson this week was with a woman named Miyata Kazuko San. She is the mother of one of the brothers in our ward, Miyata Kyodai. It was a good lesson! We taught about Heavenly Father and about His love for us. We also talked about the prophet Joseph Smith, and the Restoration of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and about how the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It was really great, and we don't have a set appointment with her yet, but we will see her again soon. That was a weird day for me, Saturday. That was the first day I had to eat seafood! We had that absolutely gross cabbage pancake thing again, but this time, it had white fish paste (in the shape of tentacles...) on top, with nori and dried fish skin. Yeah....I died. I just about threw up on the Miyata family's table, and I felt so bad. I just couldn't do it. So Kubota Shimai ate the rest for me. It was awful, and I've felt gross ever since. But, it was funny.
Also this week, we were able to meet with several less-active members. Those are my favorite lessons to teach. This week, we met with Ueno Junko Shimai, with the Relief Society president, Kanazawa Shimai. That was a great lesson! Ueno Shimai has had a lot of trials lately, and so we decided to talk about the Atonement of Christ and about how we can overcome our hardships with the help of the Savior. I don't remember what was said, really, but I can remember the incredible love and Spirit that filled the room as we testified of Jesus Christ. I love having the privilege of being able to do that on a daily basis. We also taught Nishimura Yoko Shimai the same lesson, but it was much different! It was joyful and so loving, and I am grateful for the guidance of the Spirit.
This week, I had a really hilariously awesome finding experience. The three of us, and two of the Elders were biking super fast to a lunch appointment with a member, and we zoomed past this woman. I was in the back of the group, so I heard the woman yell something at me in Japanese. I translated it to say ``HEY!!! Are you all volunteer Eikaiwa teachers???`` So I slammed on my brakes and yelled GOMENASAI! And ran back to her! Then, the miracle happened. She started speaking to me in very fast Japanese and asking me all kinds of questions, and I was able to not only understand what she said, but I was able to reply and answer all of her questions!! Wow, Gift of Tongues! It was only for two minutes, but it was incredible! The woman's name was Harada-San, and she ended up coming to Eikaiwa this week! It was so wonderful, and so humbling. When I tell myself that I can't speak Japanese, I am absolutely right, but I can do all things through Christ. He is the only way. His blessings are how I am able to communicate, and for that, I am thankful.
The Lord has also blessed me with more love and patience this week. I finally am feeling like I am having fun and being a successful missionary. We are busy and working hard, and I have more patience with my companions. The Lord is shaping me into the missionary He wants me to become.
This week, we had ward Family Home Evening and it was SO MUCH FUN! We had missionary music night! I got to play a cello! YAY! It was so fun! And I got to sing with Merkley Choro, and I also go to learn and play a traditional Japanese instrument called Shamisen, which is like the Japanese equivalent of a banjo! It was so cool, and I want to buy one SO BAD! Probably during my last transfer.
Lean on the Savior. He is so full of love, and is mighty to save. You should read John 15 and 16. It's all about abiding in the love of Christ. Some very much-needed light for me this week. Jesus is my sunshine. Let Him be yours, too.
I love you!