Wednesday, October 31, 2012

happy halloween!!! 10/29/2012




dear fam,

the shift button on the keyboard doesn't like working, so if some word is confusing or something, just examine how a shift button might alter it to make sense.

this week has been great and i feel like things are starting to pick-up slowly but surely down here. we talked to a lot of babushki this week and gave some of them copies of the BoM. they're so interesting to talk to and i feel so bad for them because they all seem so lonely and have such hard lives. most of them don't have phones, which makes it hard to try to meet w/ them in the future if they're even half interested in the gospel. one of them we met walking down the sidewalk herding her goats. her name is nina and she's probably one of the most delightful bobs that i've met here. yes- she was herding goats as we talked to her and making sure they don't run out into the street. she gladly took a copy of the Book of Mormon, said she'll read it during the winter when it's freezing and she has to stay inside, and then kissed us on the cheeks and gave us a hug before we parted. i think her old jacket used to be a wind-breaker at some point before i was born, but now the wind-breaking fabric is missing in large spots so that it's showing the fuzzy liner. she's the cutest little bob ever. i hope we meet her and her goats again. there was something a bit sybolic, i felt, in meeting a shepard.

another story i forgot to mention last week was that 2 weeks ago on monday we went up into moscow to listen to the wife of the area president speak on the godhead. we had to get off at a different train stop than normal do to repairs they were working on and as week walked up the long staircase at the stop we got off at, i saw a bob carrying her bags up the stairs and i offered to help her. she let me take one bag, but was too stubborn and independant (sounds like a johnson) to let me carry the other one too. we saw her a few minutes later at the bus stop and she told us what bus we needed to get on to get to the metro. she asked us where we were headed and it turned out to be the same metro stop in the middle of the city as her. she insisted that she show us the way -and didn't quite realize that, besides which bus # we needed- we new exactly where we needed to go. so, despite the fact that we were in a big hurry as it is and a part of me despirately just wanted to say our good byes and hop on a marshrutka rather than wait for a bus, we waited w/ her for the bus, walked w/ her to the metro, and then road the metro w/ her all the way to the center of city. it turns out that she's from podolsk, too, and i talked w/ her  on the metro ride and showed her pictures of my family and explained that i'm a missionary. she was really sweet and when we got to the metro stop where we needed to be, she kissed us on the cheeks, gave us a big hug, and cried. it was the sweetest, saddest thing. we gave her a church invite and asked us if she'd bee intrested in meeting w/ us to hear more abt. our message, but she said that she's too busy to meet w/ people. i really hope that we see her again on the street in podolsk some time. 

well, i'm almost out of time, but i hope you all have a fabulous week. i love you!! thanks for all of your prayers, letters, and support. camilla- are you alive? i haven't heard from you in ages.

fml,
sister johnson




here's my letter to president sorenson for some more details on my past week:

happy halloween!! sorry, the shift button on 1 side of this keyboard doesn't work.

this week was great and i feel like the Lord poured out his blessings on us and our efforts after lay-up-in-store week. we tripled our numbers from last week in 3 categories and got 2 contacts!

we still have no real investigators, but a referral from a member that's come to english club is interested in meeting w/ us at, even though she hasn't set a time yet. she's way nice -her name is lyuba- and her mom's been in town to help her recover from a bad illness. her mom has also come to english club and seriously is a hilarious woman. they've both been staying for the spiritual thought and i think lyuba is at least open to listening, even if her mom might not be too intersted in our message yet.

zone conference was awesome!! thanks for your talk on the atonement. that was deffinitely my favorite part, even if i was very sleepy during it. i heard there might be a conference for just the sisters in november. fun!

despite the fact that podlsk has been a challenging area, i really have come to love this little town and the branch here. just know that i will go or stay where ever the Lord wants me to. it's his errand, so i will serve where ever he wants me to, be it here or in a different area next transfer.

thanks for all you do!!
sister johnson

ps- the exchanges went great this past week. i went back up to my birth-place in rechnoy and got to meet w/ a less active up there. sister wright is seriously an awesome missionary and just goes for it. she's going to get the language fast because she always tries to speak, even if she doesn't know how to congigate or decline things right in the sentance. she's going to do an amazing job and i'm sure already is. she taught really well on our lesson and didn't shy away from trying to speak or open her mouth. i seriouslly would not guess she's been in the field for less than a transfer.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It is finished. 11/21/10

Miracle baptism yesterday. I'll tell you more in person.

My work here is complete. I honestly feel like I have done the work my Father has sent me to do.
I feel at peace.

I'll see you soon.

Forever my love,
Sister Johnson

Monday, November 15, 2010

Last preparation day!‏ 11/14/10

Dear family,

This may be my last email home. Yes Amy I will still try to check my email next week but I may not have time to respond. It will be a crazy day.

On Tuesday was my last Zone Conference. I gave my reflections talk - all the returning missionaries give one. I was really afraid I would just cry all the way through it but I was okay. I talked about angels and miracles. It was really powerful. Maybe I'll share it sometime with you.

Today for my last Preparation day, Sister Brownell and I rode our bikes back up the mountain to the waterfall. It was beautiful in the mountains, I felt close to God. We did our study up there and most imporantly, buried a time capsule. We put in photos, stick figure drawings of our future families, our life goals, tracts, and some other fun things. I wish we had more time to prepare it... The plan is to come back in 20 years and get it. I'll be 43 then - it's near impossible to imagine being nearly twice my age but it seems like every year moves a little faster now.

The most notable investigator lately is Sister Wu. She is blind and absolutely golden. I bet she will be baptised in two weeks. I'm disappointed I won't be around for it. Teaching her is...amazing. She is so receptive.

The problem is how to help a blind person gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. As far as we know, only one Braille copy of the Book of Mormon exists in Taiwan, which Elder Opper found in Gaoxiong randomly just a few hours before I called asking him if such a thing even existed. Don't tell me angels don't direct this work. Things like this happen all the time. The Braille Book of Mormon is huge - seven volumes of enormous blue binders about five inches thick. Poor Sister Wu though, it is in braille English and it must be near impossible for her to understand. Imagine trying to read a book of scripture in a second language that you haven't studied in 15 years...in braille. We are trying to find a recording but so far have only been about to find an old translation in Chinese. We are working on it. Anyway, she is gold. I have to think more about what I want to say about her. She is brave and sweet and lovely and I'm so lucky to be teaching her.

I was looking around my dear little Beiqu ward this Sunday and I felt so proud of it. It is the most diverse ward I've seen in Taiwan. There are a lot of people with special needs and they are all met with love and compassion. There we were with blind Sister Wu, in another corner we had translation for a deaf sister, we have a parapelegic man in a wheelchair that the aaronic priesthood takes turns pushing a couple miles to and from church each sunday. There is crippled and homeless Brother Yang being the class leader in Gospel Principles. This really is the best ward that I have been in.

This week I started calling my new members and telling them that I am going home. I also wrote them each a letter with pictures and our address in Elko. It was nice. I called Song Shao Yi - my first new member back in Douliu. She said that she knew it was me by my voice even before I told her who I was. I couldn't say the same for her - the last time I had seen her I hadn't really been able to understand her lol. Sister Lin with the amazing smile is coming up from Yuanlin to take Sister Brownell and I out for dinner on Friday. Everyone I talked to was just so sweet and excited to hear from me and really missed me. I've been really blessed to be able to help so many people.

Alright, time is up.

FML
Sister Johnson



Cami's email to Donna:

Thanks for the detailed info on my return. It sounds like conference was nice. Did you remember to make sure that President Shumway will be available to release me?

I love you! Thanksgiving is almost here! The goose is getting fat lol.
FML
Sister Johnson

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cami Johnson

Dear family,


Well it has been a smashing few days.


So, Sister Brownell decided at the beginning of this movecall to set some goals and one of them was to do our own version of a taipei 101. Then we decided, who wants to run just to the top of the highest building in Taiwan? If we are going to do this, let's do it right. So we asked around, found out the tallest storied building in the world is in Dubai and is162 stories and set 165 as our goal. So for the past few weeks we added stairs to our running agenda. We had originally planned to run Dubai next week, but we have been doing 105 flights consistently without problems and were getting a little bored of stairs. So we decided just to do it today and free up next week for another mountain biking adventure. It didn't take us very long, about 45 minutes total and about 29 minutes running*. It was fun, I mostly recited The Living Christ in my head while I ran (which we are memorizing, another goal). It was cool because achieving our goal didn't take us as long as we thought it would, and we thought it would be harder than it was. It's nice to know that you can do hard things, even with ease. We are all capable of more than we put ourselves up to.


This week was a ward activity. It was so much fun to watch. Taiwanese people may be a bit tonedeaf when it comes to singing, but they more than make up for it in their skits, dancing and acting. They are always awesome. I think of a skit and I think of people spending a half an hour before it starts trying to figure out what they will do. The Taiwanese are super creative, really good actors and spend weeks getting ready. It was so fun to watch on Saturday night. Every auxilary organization choreographed a dance. The young women did an amazing Prince of Egypt performance, the priesthood danced**, we got to watch our new members dance with the relief society did some kind of "cowboy" dance***, it was so cute. We left before the primary but I saw them practicing and it was pretty intense for a bunch of little kids NOT enrolled in a dance class. None of this put your left leg in put your left leg out business. There was also in attendance one of the best violinists I have ever seen. The whole thing was just heartwarming. As Sister Brownell put it, "I felt filled. Like someone was literally pouring goodness into me, and like a glass now I am filled." It was really nice.


Remember the little 8 year old boy, Yang Dun Li that we baptised last week? His mom told us that every night in his prayers he asks for the remission of his sins. It was honestly the cutest thing I have ever heard. He is such a good kid.


Pictures~


The first one is my district. I think it captures everyone's personalities. Going counter clockwise, first you have Sister Brownell, my bff. Then you have Elder Yang, the recorder, who came on island with me and has been a help to me from the first day I met him. He also served in Douliu so we have a special bond. Then there is Elder Johnson, who we like to tell people we are cousins. He is one of my zone leaders, was in the MTC with me 6 weeks ahead and only speaks in exclamitory statements, I'm not even kidding. Talking to him is half like going to a pep rally. He is the most energetic person ever. Everytime I talk to him on the phone, he says Sister JOHNson this is Elder Johnson!!!! Everytime he speaks Sister Brownell and I are about rolling on the floor laughing, he is ridiculous. I like him but have a hard time taking him seriously. Then there is Elder Opper, the Operations manager who has already saved my life 4 times in the last 4 weeks! JK. But he is awesome and heartfelt and sincere and everyone's dream home teacher. I love doing followups with him. Then there is Elder Moes, pronounced Moose, which describes his build. I like him and don't know how to put my finger on why. He isn't too serious, and isn't too ridiculous. He takes his calling seriously but when I called him yesterday to see if they had apostasy cups I could use for a lesson, he spoke the whole time, unexplainably, in a british accent. I'm not sure I can explain Elder Moose any better than that.


The second one is Halloween!

But time is up. So thats all for this week folks. Love you and tune in next week.

FML

Sister Johnson



PS please check with President Shumway to make sure that I will be able to be report and be released or whatever it is called on Wednesday and he isn't going out of town or something for the holiday. Love you!



*It takes time to take the elevator back down once we reach the top. We could run down but I vetoed because of my knees. A lot of people told me stories about hurting their knees after running stairs so I was careful. I've been really blessed that my knees have healed so well.

** The highlight was the soloist Brother Yang, a homeless but extremely awesome member who broke it down to Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson. Oh, priceless.

*** Yes, there is such thing as Chinese country music




Monday, October 25, 2010

                
                                          

Dear family,

Before I forget, I am going to the temple next week and so will not email until Wednesday.

It has been some of the most eventful days I have had in ages. Daddy's story about the fire alarms going off at the cabin just set the tone for the story I'm about to tell you.

So it is late on Friday night (about 10:10, about 20 minutes before we go to bed) and all was quiet at our apartment. I was folding laundry, my companion was cutting fruit for her breakfast, Sister Liu was following up with the district leader...and the carbon monoxide detector started going off and didn't stop even when we hit the quiet button. I had had quite a time installing the carbon monoxide detector in Yuanlin (long story. Just know the walls here are made of cement) and so I knew exactly what it was and how the detector worked. They trained us on the CM2 detectors after a couple missionaries died in Europe last winter. So I called the district leader, who called President...who sent the office elders to come pick us up because we couldn't sleep there that night until it got checked. We were all complaining, we were so tired and didn't want to leave and had to pack all of our stuff because we didn't know when we'd come back. The time we all dearly wanted to be asleep we were sitting outside our dalou looking bleary eyed waiting for the elders to drive over. I was just glad they didn't make us ride our bikes the half hour like they originally proposed.

Once we got to the mission home we stopped complaining immediately. I was afraid we were going to have to sleep on the floor in the office or something, but instead we got to sleep in the guest room at the mission home. All I can say is I highly recommend setting off your CM detector. Oh, the mission home was so clean and comfortable. It was airconditioned, carpeted, the beds were soo comfortable and the linens divine, covered in pillows. It felt like being at home, or visiting relatives. Wealthy relatives. I giggled to Sister Brownell, "Do you think this is what heaven is like?" We couldn't hide our glee. The showers had hot water AND water pressure, simultaniously! It was like a miracle. The next morning President and Sister Bishop made us an American breakfast- I was not expecting that, it was above and beyond their call of duty. I was ready to go buy something at 711. I felt so taken care of. It was like being in a house at America, they had condiments in English that they bought at costco and herbal essence shampoo in the bathroom. It's funny how the little things make you feel like you are at home.

After our "getaway" to the missionhome, things went really well. The Zone Leaders committed us to have 30 sitdown lessons this week, and by Friday we only had I think 14. We had a ton of miracles though all right in a row and by Sunday night we had all 30. It was crazy. The more you exercise faith in the commitments extended by your leaders, the more opportunities God has to show you His miracles. Literally, we went from a park sit down, to the first house we tracted to being let in, and then when we left the elders were calling me telling me a lady showed up at the church crying and wanted to know the meaning of life and how she can be happier. It was miraculous. Everything fell into place.

Today was a lot of fun too! We had heard there was a waterfall in the mountains and decided to ride up to go see it. We stopped at a buddist temple which was actually the first cool one I have seen in a long time. I've seen so many miaos that they rarely interest me anymore but we had fun today. We rode and rode and came to a what is called a Bat Cave and wandered around in a dark little man made tunnel...kind of silly to be honest but fun. We had heard about the waterfall and that was the destination, so even though we heard that it was still an hour away we decided to keep riding. It was quite the mountain biking, we had to walk sometimes because it was too steep - it was also farther than we expected. It was worth it. The waterfall was nothing to speak of (literally) but we found pretty green pools and boulders and did our study time there. It was so relaxing. I sent a couple pictures that I thought illustrated the day pretty well.

I sent a big box of books home today...It cost about 40 dollars American ouch but I figure it is cheaper than the airplane overweight charge and less of a hassel. It should be there...in a couple months. Haha.

Times up. Love you all. Sorry I couldn't respond individually to anyone. I hope everyone is okay.

FML
Sister Johnson

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Amy's Poem for Sister Johnson

Island Search and Rescue
By Amy Ann Johnson


Dear Sister Zhan,
How is Taiwan?
Do you like the vegetables and noodles?
Have you seen or eaten any poodles?

It sounds really green
and like the people aren't too mean.
They sound rather nice
and appear to love rice.

On your bike you peddle,
handing out God's rod of metal.
You feed His Taiwanese sheep
as your covenants you keep.

Down on you He smiles
As you endure all of your trials.
He blesses you everyday
and the Spirit whispers what to say.

You ride through the rain
as you and your companion are praying
to find somebody
whose heart you can help to un-muddy.

You meet a girl on a scooter
that saw a church add on the computer.
With a song in your heart,
You begin to teach like it's an art.

You tell her of Heavenly Father's plan
and the Atonement of the Only Perfect Man.
You give her a copy of the Book
that gives truth to those that look.

You bare witness of God's love
and the Spirit descends as gently as a dove.
As your companion testifies,
tears fill the girl's eyes.

You have helped her feel the Fire,
and so to God's presence she aspires.
Within her soul burns
the desire to know and learn.

The lesson wasn't very long,
but the Holy Ghost was strong.
She wants to know more
of the Savior that stands at her heart's door.

You will meet her again in less than week
to more words of life speak.
You will teach her how to pray
and about a prophet in this day.

Because of the Light she's seen,
she will seek to become clean.
Because of the Son that our Father sent,
she will be able to repent.

Into baptism's waters she'll enter
and be washed pure strait to her center.
The Comforter will be given her as the gift
that will help to teach and her to soul lift.

She will take up a new life
that's free of old sins' cutting knife.
The Savior she will follow,
escaping the pits that wish to her swallow.

As you watch her transform,
your heart will warm.
Your soul will sing and swell
at the thought of drinking with her from the Celestial Well.

You know that you've helped to bring her peace,
and so your joy and love increase.
You feel so blessed to play a part
in the Master's healing art.

You know He's chosen you
to help His gathering to do.
He has children for you to find;
His soul has for them pined.

He loves you and those you teach,
and His arms for all of them reach.
He has given them to your charge
and has helped your abilities to enlarge.

The work is often hard,
but you haven't thrown down your pass-card.
As you have given it your best,
He's helped you to find rest.

He has put you in a place
to help His Taiwanese children find Grace.
You're engaged in His Great Work
to help them escape the evil hands that lurk.

You don't waste any time
because, for missionaries, it's a crime.
You know your mission;
You have souls for which to not just passively be fishin'.

You want to bring them to Christ's church,
so you go out and search.
Jesus freed them from death's catacomb,
but Heavenly Father wants them to come all the way Home.

Gratitude fills your soul
as you think of how Christ paid your toll.
You want the same for your Asian friends;
You want their joy to never end.

And so you go out,
throwing aside your fears and doubts.
You don't give up
because this work fills your cup.
The Savior will make up for what you lack,
so together you push forward to win more of your spirit-siblings back.

Monday, October 18, 2010

the princess and the pea ‏ 10/17/2010

Dear family -

Hello! Thank you for your letters. Mother, I got the referral, I could read it fine and will send it out today! Shelly thanks for the pictures, encouragement, and fabulous stationary :). Shelly, especially thank Benjamin for me for his thoughtful letter. And you should all ask Amy to let you read the poem she wrote for me. It was awesome.

In other news I saw the biggest spider* the other day at the church by my bike. The spider I saw was bigger than my palm. And not just a big spindly daddy long leg, it was a legitimate spider. When it ran away, I could still hear it crunching as it walked through the leaves. It was that big. Just think of that the next time you are in the woods at night and hear a rustle.

Remember the saga of me hating my mattress? Well, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and finally Elder Porter and Elder Yang brought me another mattress. I was so excited they day they brought it Sister Brownell and I were going to have nightly planning on my new mattress instead of at our desks. Then I got home and I indeed had another mattress...but it was the exact same as my last one, not one of the newer ones. I was disappointed. The next day when I saw the office Elders, Elder Porter asked me if my new mattress was okay. "We noticed once we got it there it was the same as your old one...but I didn't know what to do, it was the only one we had..." He looked so... sincere/sheepish/wanting to please me that I couldn't complain about it anymore. I just said thank you, it was much better and shut up about it.

The day Sister Hampton left she and I switched mattresses (hers is a nice newer one). Sister Liu, being a charitable companion said that she would take the old mattress instead of giving it to the sister that hadn't moved in yet. So I have a new mattress. The other night I walked out to the bathroom and Sister Liu was stretching in the living room. I asked her what she was doing and she said her back had been hurting. So I wasn't just being a drama queen, it really was a terrible mattress. The princess and the pea indeed.

After President Monson's last conference address last week, I am trying to have more gratitude. For a couple days I have just been trying to express gratitude instead of asking for blessings in all my prayers. It has been difficult! It is not wrong to ask for blessings, but it certainly opened my eyes to how often I beseech the Lord for help. I have so many wonderful blessings. The promised blessing for gratitude is happiness. Who doesn't want to be more happy? And gratitude is such a simple way to achieve it. You don't have to go anywhere, spend any money, read a manual, take any classes, buy any products. Happiness is easier achieved than people think, and it's not a secret.

Alright, times up.

I love you all.
FML
Cami


* I guess the other sisters found one of similar size in the womens bathroom this week! There was lots of screaming and the elders had to chase it around for about ten minutes before it got killed (haha). I never saw big spiders in the country in Yuanlin! Good thing or I would have been scared to death.



Cami's email to Donna:


Mmm, sounds delicious!

I took 5000 NT from my account Bank of America account today so if you would make sure it is okay and didn't overdraw I'd appreciate it. I have to send some things home soon, get Christmas presents, etc. Is there anything you would like from Asia while I am here? Perhaps a knock off coach bag to match Tinas :)

Love you, thanks for your letter. You have a birthday card too I ment to send it but it has stickers all over it and no where to put the address...long story...
FML
Sister Zhan

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