Monday, December 30, 2013
WE GOT TO SKYPE WITH SISTER JOHNSON THIS WEEK!! IT WAS WONDERFUL!!
On Monday, December 30, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
My GOODNESS, do I have the best family in the world, or WHAT?!
Momma, I am so blessed to have you. I am so blessed to have Dad. I am so blessed to have Iver and Sarah. WOW! And I have the best Parents and Big Brother in the universe. I am sure feeling the love right now.
It was so wonderful to talk to you this week. It was such a blessing for me to see you and hear you. I miss you so much! If I know you like I think I do (which I'm pretty sure I do), you weaped after our call ended. I did too. I wanted nothing more than to just come home and be with you again. But, that feeling only lasted a day. I know that I am here for a reason. Sometimes I lose sight of that reason, but the Savior reminds me in the most beautiful, miraculous, and small ways. I love Him, and I know that He loves me.
I am grateful to be here serving with Luk Shimai. She is from Hong Kong, which is a lot like America, or so she tells me. Hong Kong is separate from the rest of China, so they have a lot more freedom. Christmas is big there! And she said that it's basically the same as America. Christmas in Japan was so surprising. It was seriously just a normal day. We said Merry Christmas to a garbage man, and he laughed and said "Oh yeah, it is Christmas today!" No one here knows how special of a day Christmas is! I just wanted to shout from the rooftops that Christ is born! His Peace is being published on the Earth! I couldn't really do that, seeing as we aren't allowed on rooftops. Had I been given the chance, I might have actually done that. But, it just wasn't practical. But, I did receive Iver and Sarah's package in the mail on the 27th! The CD has been making me SO HAPPY!!!! I have missed Steven Sharp Nelson SO MUCH! My iPod for some reason deleted about half the music I had on there, and it doesn't have any Steven Sharp Nelson anymore. So that was definitely a tender mercy. As was the harmonica! I am learning how to play it, and so far, I can play all the nursery rhymes! One of my goals is to come home being able to play the harmonica.
I'm still in the midst of thinking about my resolutions.
1. Learn to love seafood! I am in the most seafood-eating area of the mission right now, in the middle of seafood season. I WILL love seafood.
2. I will finish reading the Book of Mormon in Japanese. I can now read and understand a lot of what is going on. With the help of Simon, my electric companion, and the guidance of the Spirit, I know that I can succeed!
3. When I return home, I will get a drivers license.
Those aren't my only goals. I will have more, as well. I just haven't decided for sure yet.
President Rasmussen has given us a very specific schedule for New Years Day:
We are to have normal personal study in the morning, and then we are to engage in a Japanese culture activity! That means we are going to go to a jinja (Japanese Shrine) and do the prayer/money/ring-the-bell thing that they do! I am super excited for that. Then we are to return home to the apartment and read the whole of 3rd Nephi! As we do that, we are to think about Christ and how Him appearing to the Nephites on the American continent was a new beginning for those people. Then, President has asked us to set our goals and record them. I am excited for the day's activities; it will be a fun day for sure!
Well, we just got back from the best appointment with Yuki San! Today we talked about how to recognize answers to prayers. We talked about the Holy Ghost and how it guides us. We talked a lot also about baptism, and about how it's a beginning! We don't need to have all the knowledge in the world about everything in order to receive baptism, and so we talked a lot about that. We also talked about Church! The very first thing Yuki San said to us in our lesson was, "Guess what? My goal for next year is to come to Church every Sunday! How about it?" It was SO WONDERFUL! We felt very prompted to tell her that as she does so, she will receive knowledge from on high and that her family will reap blessings for her wanting to be more righteous. We also invited her to pray about a baptismal date! It was a wonderful lesson! And then she surprised us by taking us out to lunch! It was so nice. I love her so much. All I want for her is to come unto Christ and to experience even more happiness than before. YAY! She is progressing so wonderfully!
Something that I have learned recently is that The Authorities know me EXACTLY. I will be honest, I was having a bit of a rough week. I have been feeling really overwhelmed by what is "expected" of me, because I am a missionary, from the members here in Japan. I feel like the members think I am perfect. They have me (and all missionaries) on a pedastal, and they expect me to do everything EXACTLY right, to say EXACTLY the right thing at EXACTLY the right time, and that I will be able to drop everything I have planned to come to their houses, or that I will bake them a cake because they gave me a cookie or something. The list is basically inexhaustive. And so, I have been really worried about offending people (like we did in Aizu) because I just can't measure up to their expectations. It's been really weighing me down lately, and so I decided to seek refuge in high places. Heavenly Father, Mother, and Jesus Christ know how to comfort me in exactly the perfect way. The answer to my prayers came in an email from Dad. I am so grateful that he was in tune with the Spirit enough to write exactly what I needed to hear. I am so thankful.
As I begin this new year, I want to spend more time focused on my Savior Jesus Christ. I am called here to Japan to do the things He would do if He were here, say what He would say, be who He would be, and love how He would love. I want to love like my Savior, who loves so individually and so fully. I want to say what He would say if He were here. I want to become who He would have me become. It is my prayer that through studying the scriptures, and through listening to the guidance of the Spirit that I will be able to become more like Him. I am so grateful for His atoning sacrifice for me. I have been thinking about the words to Amazing Grace lately:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
Was blind, but now I see!
This is all possible because of Jesus Christ and His Amazing Grace. It saves me. It saves us all. For this, I am eternal grateful.
And from another letter on the same day:
Today, my personal study was reading from the Book of Mormon, and reading from the letters that you have sent me in the past. It's amazing, I swear the words have changed from the first time I read them! But the truth of the fact is that I am learning how to see with my spiritual eyes, hear with my spiritual ears, speak with my spiritual tongue, and feel with my spiritual heart. I am learning to stretch myself. I am learning to trust in the Divine. I am learning my Savior. And your words in those letters are His words to me. Thank you thank you thank you. Really.
Your haiku is beautiful. I love it. That is actually something that has been in the back of my mind recently, Japanese poetry. I want to write. I want to sing! Traditional Japanese singing is absolutely beautiful. There is nothing else in the world like it. I want to sing and feel my soul soar to the tops of the beautiful Japanese mountains. I will learn.
Haha, you think I will abandon you for Japan later in life? I really have no idea. It's hard to believe that I only have ten and a half more months in this beautiful place. I want to come back someday. We will see. I really have no idea how that would be possible! I have no money! But, we will see. The relationships I am making and the people I am meeting are no mere coincidence.
I love Luk Shimai, and your pun. She is wonderful. I am wondering how we can work harder. This transfer has been a little bit hard for me. I feel like we haven't gotten anything done. It's making me sad. But! This transfer is only halfway gone! I still have three weeks to make this the most successful transfer of my mission! I know that with the Lord's help, I can do that. Luk Shimai is a sensitive one. My setting-apart blessing tells me that the Lord will trust me with sensitive sisters, that one of my missions is to uplift and strengthen them. That is what I am here to do! Luk Shimai needs the Savior's love through me. So, that is what I will do. And I will give all my love to Yuki San, Sugiyama San, Mayumi San, and all the new people that the Lord will trust me with.
On Monday, December 23, 2013 Sister Johnson wrote:
I most definitely have P-Day! Christmas will be a very busy day full of great missionary work! I am very excited. What a great and unique opportunity I have to spend Christmas as a personal representative of Jesus Christ Himself! This is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, seeing as I only have this one Christmas in Japan. I am excited to sing of Him on street corners and in genkans, and to publish good tidings of great joy, His everlasting peace, and His redeeming love to everyone that I meet! It will be a very special day, indeed!
Happy Solstice!! Happy, light-filled days will come to us again! What a happy thing. I love the sunshine! Ishinomaki has great sunshine. This last week has been crazy weather. A few days ago, it snowed for about three hours, and then as it got colder, the snow turned to rain! It didn't make sense at all, and I was super confused, and now everything is crazy icy. We can't ride our bikes because it's super dangerous. But yesterday during church, the sun was shining nice and bright, and big bite-size snow was falling. It was so lovely, and it reminded me of Christmas in Colorado. It was a nice little beautiful tender mercy from the Authorities.
I got a letter from the Denver Stake Presidency this week in the mail. It was really wonderful to receive! It contained their testimony of the Savior, and it talked about the real importance of Christmas. It posed a very interesting question, one that has been really quite interesting to think about. The question is this: what gift can you give to the Savior this year? As I have pondered this question, it has been really hard to come up with just one answer! There are so many, and I don't really know where to start! In Christmases past, I have given the Savior the gift of music. As I perform on my cello, I would always picture in my head the Savior sitting on the front row, listening intently. This has always been my gift to Him. Through my music, I can express my love for the Savior and my gratitude to Him in a way that I can't do in words. But being here in Japan, this is the first Christmas in 11 years that I haven't had a cello to perform on! So, I have a unique opportunity to offer the Savior a different kind of gift. Here I am, a missionary in Japan, and that means that I am already consecrating 100 percent of my time and energy to the Lord, so how can I make that more meaningful? This has been the topic of my thoughts as of late. How can I become a better servant and representative of my Savior, Jesus Christ? I don't have an answer yet, but I will keep you updated.
This week, we had our first lesson with our investigator, Yuki San! She is the absolute best!!! I love her so much! She has made so much progress with the sisters that were here before us, and she is continuing to progress. We were able to really connect with her this week, and get to know her. She is in her 60's. She got divorced a long time ago, and her ex-husband died in the tsunami two years ago. She has three sons, but she doesn't really have a good relationship with them. Her reason for meeting with us is so she can learn to become a better person so she can heal her family relations. She loves God, and she has such a desire to learn of Christ and to follow Him. I know that as she continues on this path that her family will be blessed. All of her trials will not be taken away, but she will be strengthened and empowered as she learns to rely on the Atonement of the Savior. I love Yuki San, and I am excited to watch her progress.
Are you feeling the light of Christ this year? Is His light and love illuminating your countenance? I sure hope so. We had the branch Christmas party on Saturday night, and it was pretty good. There was too much Santa and not enough Jesus though. It made me sad, as always. But, there was one beautiful moment. The primary here consists of four of the cutest little boys, the oldest of which is 6 or 7. They all dressed up like shepherds and sang the primary version of Away in a Manger. The words are a little bit different in Japanese. They are words sung directly to the baby Savior, pleading with Him to lead and guide us through the ills of life, and they are so beautiful. As the four little boys sang, the sweetest spirit filled the room, and I saw Christ in the eyes of each of those boys. It was a wonderful beautiful sight, precious to behold. I now really understand why Christ asks us to become as a little child. Children are so pure, and they can see with the eyes of their spirit. They know. They know the divine. I want to learn to become like that again, as I once was long ago.
This week, I finished reading the Book of Mormon from cover to cover for the first time on my mission! I started in July, and have been highlighting every reference to Christ, His words, His attributes, and His pure doctrine. I highlighted all of that in red, and then counted the number of red marks and recorded it at the bottom of each page as I read. My Book of Mormon is now completely RED! (Haha, that's a great pun.) So today during personal study, I added up the numbers of references to Christ. Guess how many? 4,536 references! WOW! In 527 pages, there are 4,536 references to the Savior. How amazing is that?! That is SO MANY! What a great book it is, what great evidence it is that we do indeed have a Savior, and that His name is Jesus Christ! The Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ, one that if we study and ponder the teachings therein, we will draw closer and closer to Him of whom the book so beautifully testifies! I love the Book of Mormon, and I love that it teaches me of my Savior. It has been such a blessing to study in this manner, and I have learned so much.
Well, I am so excited to see you in two days!!!!!!!! That will be so wonderful! I also know how hard it will be to hang up... but I'm not thinking about that yet. Haha. I love you!
P.S. I got the packages in the mail this week! THANK YOU! I:m excited to open them soon! LOVE YOUUUUU!