Monday, November 25, 2013
On Monday, November 25, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
Thank you so much for the prayers. They got me through this hard, hard week. But! Robertson Shimai and I have come out alive!
After the incident last week, I was really discouraged. I haven't cried like that since I was in my last area in Izumi. I felt like I could never do anything right, like I am a terrible missionary because I had lost the trust of a family in the branch (they were really, REALLY upset), like I couldn't speak Japanese, like all I wanted to do was lay on my futon for the rest of my mission. It was a terrible feeling, and I am sad to say that I spent some hours actually on my futon. But! We are friends with this absolutely WONDERFUL family named the Takahashis, and they took extra special care of us when they heard what happened. First, we got a phone call from them saying that we are wonderful missionaries, that we are having wonderful success, and that they love us so much. Then, that night, they surprised us at our apartment with cake and love and a new skirt for Sister Robertson! It was so sweet. They said they came to make sure we were okay and to tell us that they love us. It was so nice, and I am so grateful. They helped me feel like I had a place in Aizu again.
It was really hard to get going again, I will be very honest, but man, has the Lord been blessing us! We have had the most successful week I have had my entire mission! Heavenly Father has blessed us with a new family to teach, as well as an additional investigator! We are now teaching the Arai family, who is probably my favorite Japanese family in the entire world. We are teaching the Dad, Arai San, and four of his kids (he has five total, but right now, the oldest one and his wife are living in Ukraine, because that is where she is from! So we are teaching a half-Japanese, half-Ukrainian family! They are the cutest kids in the entire world.), and we have had two lessons with them this week. They are so genki, and they love our lessons. We teach English for half an hour, and then we teach the Gospel. We have decided to start with the Plan of Happiness, and yesterday, we taught about the creation. It was so fun, and we colored pictures, and did all sorts of great things. We are teaching three boys, ages 9, 5, and 3, and one little girl, age 7. She is the cutest little thing, Mari Chan. I love her to pieces. I cannot describe the love that is in my heart for this family. Every time I see them, I am flooded with Heavenly Father's love for them. Right now in my life, I desire nothing more than to see them live together as a forever family. It's amazing that we have the privilege of being with our families for eternity, isn't it? It's all possible through the grace and love of one Jesus Christ. He is my light.
But yes, so besides the set-back that we had, we are still working hard. We got calls from the zone leaders to make sure we were okay. Also, yesterday at district conference (like stake conference), Sister Rasmussen pulled Robertson Shimai and I aside and talked to us for about 15 minutes to make sure we are okay. EVERYONE IN JAPAN KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED. Seriously, it's crazy how much people talk here. But it was so sweet of her to be so concerned. And yes, now we are doing okay.
These weeks have been hard. But I've learned a lot. I've learned a lot about drawing strength from my Savior. He knows. And He lifts gladly. I love Him. He's just the greatest.
Well, it's awfully cold here. And our bikes are scary dangerous, but we are being careful. And I can't believe it's exactly a month until I get to SKYPE YOU! I seriously can't wait.
I haven't gotten a package from you this week. I am supposed to get one from Olive too, but she sent it about a month and a half ago, and it still isn't here. I am so sad.
Thank you for your love and prayers. I love my Savior, and I hope you know that I rely on Him. So much.
I love you!
Monday, November 18, 2013
On Monday, November 18, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
Thank you so much for praying for Urasawa San! We did teach her again this week, but it was kind of a disaster of a lesson. We decided to teach about prophets and their role in God's plan, but it quickly spiraled out of control. She is a 7th Day Adventist, and she asked us if we believe in prophets now, so we talked about President Monson, and she, very sternly, said, "No, I can't accept that. You are wrong. We can receive revelation for ourselves through prayer. We only needed a prophet for the Law of Moses, and since Christ fulfilled the law, we do not need a prophet today." I was speechless. I had no idea what to say, and I could not feel the Spirit at all. It made me very sad. We had a member there with us who recently returned from her mission (last week) and she tried to use the scriptures to help Urasawa San understand, but it didn't help. All I could do at the end was say "I am so sorry if we offended you, and I'm sorry that I can't understand perfectly what you are saying and that I can't speak perfectly, but what I know is this. Christ is my Savior. He calls prophets to lead us to Him. Yes, we can pray, but I also know that prophets are necessary." Something along those lines. It was very discouraging, and we left sad. But we have another appointment on Wednesday. I have no idea how that is going to go. Please keep Robertson Shimai and I in your prayers so that we can become better teachers and better missionaries.
We had another appointment with that same member, the returned missionary, yesterday. She invited us over to talk to her friend who could speak some English, and we were all really excited about it! The member asked us to talk about our purpose as missionaries, which from PMG (Preach My Gospel), is this: My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost and enduring to the end. So, that is what I thought she meant! So all night we were talking about Church and churchy things and about Christ, and the conversation led naturally to that, so when it came time for Robertson Shimai and I to give our spiritual thought, we bore simple testimonies of the Savior and read some passages from the Book of Mormon. We thought it was a great lesson, and we all felt the Spirit. After we got home, the member who gave us the referral called us and was very upset with us. She told us that her friend was super confused and that she had no idea what we were talking about and that we shouldn't have prayed at the beginning of the lesson and that we shouldn't have talked about the Savior and all of these other things, and she told me that she can't trust us with a referral for a while until we get better at teaching. It was devastating. I was sharing my testimony of the Savior, and it was natural, and her friend was very receptive, or so I thought. So, right now, I'm kind of feeling like I can't do anything, like I'm a terrible missionary, and that I should just give up.
But I won't. I know my Savior. I am here to testify of Him. I am here to bring His love and His light to those who are ready to receive Him here in Japan. That is my purpose. I love Him, and I know that He loves me. As I learn to more fully rely on Him, I will be able to take this experience and learn from it, get back up, brush myself off, and keep moving. Being a missionary is really hard, especially when you are the senior companion, a gaijin, and have only been in Japan for five months. But. I trust in my Savior. I know He lives, and that He is guiding me by the hand. For this, I am so eternally grateful.
We had a really great week, other than that! We had three joint lessons this week! We haven't taught Arai San and his family yet, we had to reschedule for today, so that will happen later. I am so excited. I hope that this lesson will go better than the one yesterday!
Please keep me in your prayers, Momma. Send your love so the miles will shrink. Heaven knows I need that today.
I love you so much! I miss you!
Monday, November 11, 2013
Two weeks worth of emails, and some mailed snapshots, since she is unable to send them electronically for now.
On Monday, November 4, Sister Johnson wrote:
I have found so much joy this week! Christ is all around us. He is in everything. He IS everything. That is something I have been learning more and more every day. I love Japan.
Well, as you can probably guess, this week has been entirely overwhelming for me. Being a trainer of a gaijin has been insanely hard. I have been very humbled this week, and I am so grateful that the Lord is opening my eyes to His guidance and tender mercies. I have spend much time on my knees pleading not only for the gift of tongues, but for the interpretation of tongues. I seemed to have forgotten about that part of the gift... and boy, has the Lord blessed me! Robertson Shimai and I already have found a new investigator! Her name is Urasawa San, and she is a Korean woman married to a Japanese man. She is a 7th Day Adventist, and owns a Korean restaurant just down the street from the Church. We have started to do the Family English Program with her, which is where we teach English for 30 minutes, and then we share a message for 30 minutes. At this point, I'm not sure what her interest level in the Church is, but she already has a background of Christianity and has great faith. She told us that she has been separated from God for a long time now, but occasionally, she gets warm feelings in her chest that are accompanied with thoughts that "I need to return to God." How wonderful is that?? I hope that Robertson Shimai and I will really be able to pay attention to the Spirit to discern her needs because I really believe that she is being prepared to accept the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have another appointment with her this week.
The Lord is blessing me with light. I had a really incredibly wonderful spirit-filled scripture study this morning. I have found the answer as to why Japan is so deeply spiritual to me. Christ created everything spiritually before He created it spiritually. Now go read Isaiah 44: 22-24. Especially 23 and 24. Can you hear it? I can. Look again. You can hear it, see it, feel it. He is everywhere.
WOW! I was engulfed with the Spirit and with love. What a great blessing! There's more to that experience, but I don't have time to type it all out, unfortunately. But! I love Isaiah. What light comes from that book! No wonder Christ exhorts us and pleads with us to read his words. I am so grateful for the scriptures. They really do testify of Christ. They really do contain the fullness of His Gospel. If we really dig in, we can find Him, His love, His nature, and HIS truth. What a wonderful opportunity we have to read and drink from and feast on the words of Christ.
I am doing the Lord's work! I have learned SO MUCH this week that in no way is this work MY work. It is all His. How grateful I am for that. It was so much fun to house this week (the first time that has EVER been fun. I hate housing.) because people are already nice, but they are SO MUCH NICER when they have two blond gaijin girls knock on their door to tell them about Jesus! People were SO NICE to us, it was unbelievable. One woman invited us into her genkan and gave us a ton of food and gave us hugs (that's the real rarity) and wished us on our way! It was so fun. And it's getting easier to talk WITH people, not AT people, as we house. Yay, blessings. It's all the Lord. In no way is this my power. I can't do anything without His help. Jesus is the best, right?
I am freezing, yes. I am definitely your daughter, Dad. This weather is getting so much colder, and my joints are aching like you wouldn't believe. When we get home at night, my hands can't move. I'm quite worried about it actually. What's the deal with that? I don't want arthritis.
So, I have been sick this week. I'm pretty sure I'm developing a sinus something-or-other. I have had a killer headache and my head is clogged. I feel fine, all except my head. Blehhhhh. But, it's getting better... ish.
Robertson Shimai and I are cooking lots of veggies. And lots of chicken. And lots of rice. I need to learn how to cook more of what is available here. But I know quite a bit already, and I am excited to cook for you when I get home!
So, I forgot to tell you about how wonderful Sister Robertson is. This week, I had one really rough day. I could literally feel Satan sitting on my shoulder, convincing me that I am so inadequate. That, and lots of other things. I could literally feel him there. It was so scary and I didn't know what to do. I plead with Heavenly Father to give me the strength and the power to cast him away. In companionship study, Robertson Shimai and I were talking, and I said through some tears, "I really need your help today." and I told her everything that I was feeling. After the two hours of study, Robertson Shimai said exactly what I needed to hear. She said:
"Johnson Shimai, I love that you are so musical. I really do. So, you know that phrase in the scriptures that says "an instrument in the Lord's hands?" Well, I've always thought that that means a tool of some kind, like a screwdriver or something, but today, I learned that it means something different. You, Sister Johnson, are an instrument in His hands, and through you, He makes beautiful music. You are His instrument. He loves you, and I love you for being so beautiful."
That is what she said, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Heavenly Father answered my prayers through my sweet, wonderful companion. What a great blessing it is to be serving with her and to be friends with her.
Please keep me in your prayers. Heaven knows I need them.
And on Monday, November 11, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
Yes, I got the package this week, THANK YOU SO MUCH! It made me so happy!!! I LOVED hearing from those girls (our ward's young women); they are all so sweet. I don't have time to write them back all individually, so will you tell them all that I love them? Also, tell Katie that her story had me rolling on the floor laughing. LOVED that.
I am so happy to hear that you got my pictures! I am sorry that that is the only way I can do pictures right now. I wish I could send them electronically, but I can't. I will put some more in the mail today.
We don't have "stake conference" where I am, because the only stake in my mission is in Sendai. So, we have district conference, which is under the direction of President Rasmussen! That is in two weeks, and should be very good. I think I will be translating for Sister Rasmussen, too! So, I have lots of language study to do. I have found in the last transfer that I can understand about 90 percent of what people say now! I can reply, but very simply. I can't speak as well as I can understand yet, but it's coming along every day! I love speaking Japanese, actually. Every week, we volunteer at an old people place, and this week, one of the women there smiled at me, told me how pretty my face was, and then told me that my Japanese pronunciation was beautiful. She said that it sounded like a native! What a great thing to hear!!! The language can be incredibly frustrating at times, so it's nice to hear that I might not be as inadequate as I am feeling. That is certainly a gift from loving Heavenly Parents and Jesus Christ.
This last week, we had an opportunity to teach Urasawa San again, and we taught more about prayer. She said that she had tried to pray this week, but that all of her prayers were the same! So, we talked about how you really can pray about anything, and that when you pray from your heart, it becomes more meaningful and you can feel the love of God in greater measure. At the end of the lesson, we invited her to close us with a prayer and she said "NO! I can't!! I can't!!" But Robertson Shimai and I felt impressed to just wait. After about three minutes, she said "Okay. I will pray." She gave the most warm and heart-felt prayer I have heard in a very long time. It was sincere and from her heart. Afterwards, I asked her what she was feeling, and she said, "Yes, I feel the Holy Spirit inside of me." What an incredible experience! She is progressing!
Yesterday, Robertson Shimai and I went and visited an old investigator that was in our area book named Arai San. He and his family live very close to the church and have always come to activities, but for some reason, they stopped meeting with the missionaries, so we decided to go and invite him and his family to hear the message again. When we asked, he said, very excitedly "Aa, ii desu yo!!!" which means, yes that sounds great! So, starting on Saturday, we will be teaching him and four of his children English and the gospel! How great is that!? I am so excited. What a blessing!
This week has been a rough one, to be honest. Last P-Day evening, I crashed my bike for the first time on my mission. I was totally fine, nothing happened, I just had some bruises on my knee. Sister Rasmussen told me to go to the hospital, and so I did. I got some x-rays on my knee and back and everything was perfectly normal, just like I thought! So, nothing to worry about there, I promise. Also, Morita Shimai was suuuuuuuuuuper sick this week, and so we've been taking care of her. She is on the mend, but is still feeling under the weather.
I never realized how hard it would be to be an obedient missionary. Robertson Shimai and I have made goals to be exactly obedient, and we have found that the greatest opposition to that is other missionaries. This week, we have felt some angst from some other missionaries in our district because we don't want to waste time (hours and hours actually) at member's houses, and I am feeling very confused by it all. We are just doing what we are supposed to be doing (being missionaries and working hard...). I have learned that the image of missionary work in Japan and that in America are very, very different. But, it makes me think of what you said to me, dad, in Izumi. I am a fixed gear woman. I am a GO GO GO missionary, and that is how Robertson Shimai and I have decided we want to work! So, we aren't going to let other missionaries get in the way of that. So far, it's working.
Well, I love and miss you, so so much! I hope you have a great day! :)