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 a couple months. Haha.

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

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.

* 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...
Sister Zhan

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Dear Family,

It has been a bit of a crazy week!

Today is movecall and...I'm not moving! I will stay in Beiqu which is not suprising, but the fact that my companion Sister Brownell isn't either, is. I am very glad. I was beginning to feel very sad and mopey about the fact I was going to have to change companions again. Sister Brownell and I have set some good goals for the movecall, including running a Taibei 101(101 flights- as tall as the tallest building in Taiwan) and memorize The Living Christ. It will be fun!

Our roommate, Sister Hampton who ran the stairs last week going home today. It is very very weird because she and her group were all in the MTC group senior to me - they were our mentors. I remember when I went to the MTC and how much Chinese they seemed to know (haha..) and how time moved SO slow. It seemed like I would NEVER be out for 6 weeks. I was certain to die before then. And now, they are on a plane for America tomorrow. I guess it's true, missions do end. It makes me feel really excited and sad at the same time. 6 weeks feels now like it will go unimaginably fast.

Thats enough of that!

It was conference weekend this weekend! Oh, it was so good! I thought the themes of this conference were faith and follow the prophet. I hope everyone got a chance to see or at least read all the sessions. I remember as far back as living with Sister Busath, talking about how we will deal with movies when I go back home. So many are filled with bad language, themes, - and it has felt really good to be away from it. But how do you do with that socially? I finally got my answer this conference. I don't have to decide where to make a stand on what I should or shouldn't be watching because prophets of God have already outlined it in the Strength of the Youth pamphlet. If you can't remember what it says, go read it, and if you don't have one, ask Amy, she probably still has one. It's simple enough. So be prepared for me to watch a lot less movies. I think I'm okay with that.

In other news, this week Sister Peterson was with us for a few days because her companion went trainer. She is the same sister I went on companionship exchanges with last month. I hate change. At first I didn't like having three together, and now that she has gone to her new companion it feels weird. She had heard about a really great restaurant in our area called Hawaii 51 that she demanded we go to. We went between conference sessions and I was glad. We had pineapple burgers and fries and it was...amazing. Sister Brownell and I eat Tawainese rice and vegetables for most meals so I forgot how good American food is. It is just so good.

Times up!
Love you
Sister Zhan

Cami's note to Donna:

Hmm. I can't think of much for my new members. We buy them triple combinations and glue in their baptism pictures and write our testimonies in it for all of my new members. Most of them get the Liahona through their ward. Probably don't worry about it too much. Thank you though!

Sister Zhan

Cami's note to Tom:

Thanks for the attachments :) Maybe next preparation day I will find a copy shop where I can print them all out. Very fun! I loved conference too :) Hopefully when I write my family email in a minute I will tell you what I learned.

How did you choose my name tell me the story again


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

you banfa‏ (another email 10/3/2010)

This morning we had a fun activity for exercise. Our roommate, Sister Hampton is going home next week and wanted to acheive her goal and dream of running 105 flights of stairs. The Assistant when I Sister Hampton and I came on island was Elder Evans. She had heard he ran 101 flights of stairs once, she she set a goal to beat it. Our building is 15 stories, so she ran it 7 times. Sister Liu is diabetic and unable to do the whole thing and Sister Brownell and I had not been training for such a feat, but we accompanied her journey. She had to have a companion, so we got permission to go on "splits" and we each ran the building twice with her - thirty flights. When I ran with her I reminded her of stories President Hoer told us of running mountains with a broken rib and we laughed and went a little faster. Long live President Hoer's youbanfa legacy. She finished - it took her about 36 mintues total. Not bad! It was really fun. Sister Liu ran the last flight with her and Sister Brownell and I sang Armies of Helaman and took pictures as they came up the last bit. It was really fun. I felt the spirit. I think Heavenly Father is pleased when we set and achieve goals worthy goals. There doesn't have to be a good reason to have certain goals - just to show ourselves that we are capable that more than the average.

So, that was the best part of today. We are probably going to do some shopping, have some fun here this afternoon. It should be nice.
Alright, time is about up. Try to email me earlier if possible. it seems like the best time for us to email is earlier and earlier in the day.


Sister Johnson

pictures?!‏ 10/03/10

Dear family -

Well, the best news is that we had a baptism this week! Gongxi facai! :) See picture two on the attachments. The woman in the hot pink shirt is a new member - she was baptised a month or two before I got here. As we visited her we noticed her daughter hadn't been baptised. Guo Jing Yu is eleven years old, has unusually bright eyes, a fear of water and calls me Aunt. Her mom's faith had been wavering and I think helping her daughter prepare to get baptised was good for her. Jing Yu is afraid of water and for a little bit wasn't sure she wanted to get baptised. We showed her the font and the picture of someone being baptised and it helped her get up the courage.

Because nearly everyone here is a convert, some members didn't realize that their children had turned eight and were ready to be baptised. So, yesterday besides Jing Yu, three children of members were baptised that had been 8 for a few months. Their dads all baptised them and it was really sweet. So yes, finally one baptism!

Mother asked me about the crying girl from last week - we met with her this week and yesterday she came to church and watched the baptism. So far she is progressing nicely.

Okay, I figured today I would attach a few pictures....

Picture one - This is my companion Sister Brownell on our first day together in Taichung. Next to the church there is a huge department store/mall called Zhongyou baihuo. We go to the food court for lunch there sometimes. When you take the elevator, a little asian woman with lacy white gloves pushes the buttons for you and curtseys as the doors close. It's great. We had heard that the bathrooms on every floor are different, since we had a little downtime we went to see if it was true. It was. This one made me feel like sized barbie.

Picture three - me eating a huge bowl of my favorite food in Taiwan - hot and sour soup. Sister Brownell and I like to eat somewhere a little nicer each preparation day and we like this restaurant. Tina would really like this one - maybe they will have it in California someday. My dumpling soup in the picture was about $2.75 American. Oh, my hair is covering my nametag in this picture I just noticed. But I was wearing it.

See the next email for more pictures!
Sister Johnson