Monday, March 29, 2010

Mon 3/29/10: dragons and monkeys‏

Dear Family,

This morning was an unexpected adventure! Sister Liu and I were having companionship study, and a member calls us and asked if we wanted to go hiking to go see the Monkeys in Ershui. Yes, please! So we got permission from the mission president (since the Elders were going too) and had an impromptu hiking trip with the secondward single adults. (That makes it sound awkward but it really wasn't). Oh, it was so beautiful! Palm trees and jungle, but we were on a good wide paved path, not in the tiny paths that freak me out (the jungle still makes me nervous...thank you Tom Long). When we hiked to the top, there was a temple there and they just so happened to be having some kind of ceremony. It was really, really, cool. They had a sort of drumline, where these five guys all kind of danced/drummed in sync. And then they brought the idols out for a little sightseeing (it must be horribly dull being inanimate) and burned some incense. The best part was the drummers did these amazing dragon acrobatics. Like on Mulan, where there are dragons and people inside? So these were smaller two-man dragons but super amazing. These two guys, in a dragon costume (which meant the back one was bent forward for about a half hour without standing up). They were sort of hooked together in this two person costume, and then they miraculously jumped onto these poles about 6-9 feet in the air. No, they literally jumped and threw each other across these big gaps and stood on each others shoulders and all kinds of crazy acrobatics, all the while still in their dragon costume. I've been to the theatre in London, glitzy shows in Vegas and none of them were cooler or more impressive than standing on a mountaintop at some random small temple watching these dragons and drummers. I wish you could have seen it! I feel really blessed that we just happened to be at the right place at the right time to see their little celebration.

Then on the way back down, we saw about a hundred monkeys, I'm not even kidding. I guess that the national park we were at feeds them corn on the cob, and it happened to be their feeding time, so there were tons of monkeys on the path back down. We stopped and took pictures and talked to their feeder. He taught us three words in Monkey! I now can say hello, danger, and thank you in monkey language. I'm not sure they have many more words than that so I am counting myself fluent in Monkey if anyone asks me what languages I speak.

This week was Zone Conference. As Elder Maui'i says, "Zone conference is like Disneyland for your soul." We talked alot about faith, and I really liked one analogy of my mission president. He said, all of your areas average about 90,000 people. Do you think that it is possible that there is not ONE prepared soul to hear the gospel in your area? And if there is one prepared soul, isn't it likely that there are many? And if people are prepared, don't you think that God is prepared to lead you to them?
I just thought that it made a lot of sense.

Times up
I love you all so much!
Sister Johnson

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mon 3/22/10 Happy belated saint patricks day?

Dear family

Well, it has been a long time coming, but here are some pictures! I was going to attach more but my battery just died. There is a picture of Sister Liu and I, one just of her outside the temple, one of our tiny Nantou Zone at the temple. The last one I was actually trying to attach something else but oh well! It is me with a really cool art piece in Gaoxiong but is partially cut off plus me standing in front of it sort of ruins the effect. It looks like the balloons are ripping up the huge container. I really like it.

Isn't Sister Liu adorable? Her nickname is Bear, which I think is halarious. Sometimes Taiwanese people honestly look like cartoons, they are so cute. There was a Sister in Gaoxiong that looked exactly like a rabbit. I'll try to send a picture...sometime!

This week has been interesting! I have accumulated a couple great stories.

First, earlier this week I had this conversation with my district leader.
"Sister Johnson, I want to follow up with you about the referral you gave us, that Brother Chen*. He wants to get baptised and his interview is tomorrow. First I want to ask you, how did you find him?
I didn't remember him. I can barely remember my own investigators, let alone referrals. My companion reminded me, and then I remembered.
"Oh, we met him tracting. We started talking to him through the window of his house, he was really interested, he said he reads the Bible but doesn't understand parts of it. He kept inviting us in but there were no women there so we didn't go in. Then his mom came home and invited us in so we went in and started teaching. She sort of wandered out in the middle of the great apostasy, and Sister Liu looked at me because we aren't allowed to be alone with men. I didn't know what to do, you can't just end the lesson "And then there were centuries of darkness, and we need to go!" We quickly covered the restoration in about a minute, prayed and got his number for you."

Elder Stubbs was quiet a minute.
"Well, Sister Johnson, you were in a great deal more danger than you ever realized, because Brother Chen has killed people."
"Yeah, today we were going over the baptismal questions to get him ready for his interview, and when we asked him if he thought the Atonement could make him clean, he said he has a lot of sins, he doesn't know. I asked him what it was (usually it's something like, they tell lies) and it came out that he used to be in the mob and has murdered. He said he used to be really scarey. A while back he had a stroke and moved home and has been off probation for a couple years. He is a really great investigator though. He read the whole Book of Mormon and really wants to be baptised. He is really golden."

Brother Chen did not pass his interview. I guess that if you have shed innocent blood, you have to actively come to church for six months to even be considered for a second baptismal interview, and if you pass that you have to be considered and approved by the first presidency. Crazy!

So there you have it, I tracted into a murderer, who wanted to change his life and repent of his sins! I hope he hangs in there and gets baptised.

Story number two:
I got hit by a car this week! Sister Liu and I were riding really fast because we were late and needed to eat before District Training Meeting. Sister Liu was riding in front, and we rode through a flashing light, and I got hit by an SUV! Oops!

I got up, made sure nothing looked broken, and like any self respecting sister missionary, invited the driver to church on Sunday. My bike needed some adjustments but I was okay. My first reaction was "Huh?" and then they put a bandaid on my foot where I had a little scrape. When the driver was assured I was okay and when she was leaving I had an overwhelming desire to hug her, which I'm not sure if I was confused what had just happened, or if wanted her to know I loved her and wasn't mad at her for nearly killing me, or if it is just habit. My next reaction was that my companion needed to eat because she had already taken her insulin forty minutes ago, and district meeting was starting soon. So I got my companion fed, made it to district meeting just a couple minutes late, then started to cry during the announcements, much to the alarm of the Elders (haha). I think I just got really scared and realized that "Hey, I just got hit by a car!"
I was and am fine though. I had a couple bumps and bruises but nothing some Ibuprophen didn't take care of pretty well. I was scared my shoulder was going to suffer permanent damage but it has felt okay the last couple days.

Well, that's about it for this week!

I love you all very much!

Sister Johnson

ps - the subject of this email is happy Saint Patricks Day because I forgot to wish a single person a Happy Saint Patricks Day and it made me sad! Try ex

*name has been changed

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mon 3/15/10

Dear Family,

I have great news. Sister Liu and I are staying in Yuanlin together! It is really very unusual for a junior companion to stay in one place so long. She will be here 6 months. Actually, out of our district of 6, only one Elder moved (my MTC friend Elder Vaterlaus actually). We knew none of the seniors would move because one elder is on his last movecall and Elder Tang and I just moved here, but we thought all the juniors would leave as they had already been here 3 movecalls. It ended up only one junior moved! We were very suprised. It was my MTC friend Elder Vaterlaus so that is too bad but oh well! Sister Liu is staying and that's enough for me.

This weeks earthquake was okay. We did feel it, it was pretty big (a 6). It happened during personal study and seemed to last awhile but I didn't know what to do. The office called to make sure nothing in our apartment was broken, I guess some missionaries in Taipei had some things break, we were fine. No problems, don't worry.

Times up

Cami's letter to Donna:

Thank you for the detailed account of your trip - Amy mostly talked about pecans :) It sounds like fun- having Amy move East has been a good opportunity for you to see more! I haven't really been east besides maybe two times. I'd like to go.

I love you!


ps - it has been cold sometimes and burning hot others but I have been warm enough. When it was really freezing cold I had a miracle. I found a coat in our appartment. It perfectly fit me, it's a tan color peacoat, very beautiful. It really was a miracle someone left it, because I needed it. Today I've been sweating though in short sleeves, don't need it! There have been a lot of flowers lately. Gorgeous.
6 Minutes to write a "family email" left. Where did the time go?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back early‏ Wed 3/10/10

Hello family,

We are back earlier than I expected from the temple! I had heard that it was an all day trip but I guess that I heard wrong. The temple was so good! We got up at 4, took a train and then a bus, did a session (in English), took a few pictures and came back! We even ate on the bus. The only parts I've seen of Taipei have been the airport, temple and out the window of a bus.

I am very sad that this movecall is ending in a few days. Sister Liu is really one of my best friends! We have had so much fun. This movecall I feel like I've really started to express my personality in Chinese. As my friend Elder Vaterlaus says, "It's a lot easier to love people when you understand what they are saying." It's easier to love the people when you can express your love. The more you express your love, the more you love them, and the more you love them the more they love you, and once they love you, it brings out the best in them and you love them even more! It's a wonderful happy cycle.

I feel so many times this movecall my heart just open up. I've felt my heart just open up it's arms and wrap love around one more person. Come in, come in, my heart says every time I meet someone new. There is room for one more in here, there is room for one more. There is enough love for all of you.

I don't know what to talk about today. My zone leader committed me to a new memorization technique for characters - learn hundred a day with a special review schedule. He learned Phase 3 (3,600 characters) in about 5 weeks. The gift of tongues is a miraculous thing.

I love you very much. I'll email this Monday as normal.

- Sister Johnson

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

baptised unto repentance‏ Sun 2/28/10

Dear Family,

Another week has gone by. This morning was the end of a "Power Week." Power week means that we were out the door an hour earlier and staying out an hour later and "eating on the go" ie - no rest for the wicked :) With Guonian a lot of our numbers were low - no one was willing to meet or come to church because it was the holiday, so we had a "power week" to sort of get out of the slump. At first I was doubtful about the whole thing but we saw a lot of blessings from our extended efforts.

Times up. Next week I won't write because we are going to the Taipei temple and won't get to email. I'm sorry I won't get to write, but very, very excited to go to the temple. I haven't been since August - far, far too long. I can't wait!

This weekend we had a baptism! Her name is Huang Xiang Ru and she is great. She is one of those golden investigators that was found, taught and baptised in less than a month. She is 17, studying English and really solid in the gospel. It was a little hard for her not to drink tea at first but she stopped, about a week later got an answer to her prayers about the Book of Mormon and the rest is history. Her baptismal service was one of the best I've been to - all of the talks were really good and Xiang Ru was just really ready. When she came out of the font, I wrapped a towel around her and hugged her, (just like Mother did for me, I think about that at every baptism I have), and she cried. I jokingly asked her if the water was too cold, and then asked her how she felt, and she said- "I feel... great," in English.

I remember that feeling.

And suddenly, everything about missionary work is worth it.

I feel am very blessed to remember my baptism. My last companion Sister Busath doesn't remember hers at all. I remember everything. I remember Tina and my sisters sang, and the man in my ward that told good stories gave a talk about baptism and the remission of sins. I remember what my white dress looked like, and the stickers on the invitations, and how Daddy took me to practice in the hall. I remember Mother drying my hair and the towel and Grandpa confirming me right after. I remember being glad that Grandpa was going to confirm me because he talked really fast and I was afraid if Daddy confirmed me I may cry. I remember a lot.

I had forgotten what I felt when I was baptised though. However, about a year ago at my first time in the Temple, I once again felt the cleanliness of baptism and closeness to God. This time I knew what the feeling was and it brought back to my suprise the memory of my baptism - the only other time I've really felt that. When I was eight I didn't know what it was or what I was feeling, I just knew I felt a little strange and good and clean and happy but also the same, just me. I forgot about the feeling because I didn't know what it was or how to describe it. But being in the initiatory brought back the memory. I am so happy that I could be blessed to remember my baptism so that I can better understand my purpose.

3 Nephi 27:20
"Now this is the commandment, Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptised in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. Verily, verily, I say unto you this is my gospel."

Come unto Christ and be ye baptised!
Sister Johnson

ps - I'm very relieved to hear Daddy isn't dead

Cami's email to Donna:

Mother -

I think you are right. I don't know that this side of my mission will be easier but at least I'll be more accustomed. My language is getting better and I am comfortable to a point where I can start expressing my personality a lot more in Chinese. This makes everything a lot more fun and meaningful. I'm not just limited to bearing my testimony; I can joke or tell personal experiences and really just be friends with and love the people a lot more easily.

We felt an earthquake here yesterday morning during church - I wonder if it is related to the Chile one. There are always lots of smaller Earthquakes here though, but they aren't as dangerous. Constant small adjustment earthquakes here mean there are less huge earthquakes I think.

I love you!

I can't think of anything else for the package except maybe some skin medicine so I'll email poppers


Cami's email to Tom:

You be careful mister! I don't know when your time will be up but my goodness, let's not make it earlier than it has to be! I think when you are 60 it is time to stop class 4-5. You have to be around to see my kids too. I love you very, very much and am glad you are safe. What are you going to do when I am not on a mission to give you the extra angel protection, hmm?


PS if mother sends a package send me some skin medication - SOMETHING THAT WON'T MAKE ME SENSITIVE TO SUN. I am in the sun for 10 hours a day, I will get skin cancer if it makes me more sensitive to the sun.