Monday, January 25, 2016

Let's Change the World!

Winter is upon us now. Yikes!!!
So..this last weekend we had an ice storm!! They always talked about those here..but I never really knew what the heck that was. Cuz I knew hail, and I knew sleet and I knew snow but this wasn't any of those. Just like lots of ice pellets coming from the sky. It was crazy. So we were on lockdown for a few days. But we made the best of it! Saturday Sister Smith and I went out and scraped the cars in our apartment complex. The ice was plastered to the windshields; we did that for about two hours. It was really fun! And also cold, and a little hurty. 

Everybody here freaks out about snow and ice, with good reason. Because there are no snow removal equipment and the ice gets all over everything! It's crazy. 

We had our missionary training this week and that was really cool! Lots of general authorities broadcasting to all us missionaries about...missionary work!! It was so awesome!

Something I've been thinking about ever since my dads blog post about new years (it's great guys, and about that song of how God sent us here to change the world it made me realize how significant we all really are. Whenever we think about changing the world we always think of doing something crazy and insane that will affect the world immediately, which sometimes we can do those things. But we all are literally changing the world everyday. What we do today effect's someone's eternities. The conversation we had with someone affected their day and the way they think, it left a dent in their history, and so it changed them a little bit. And that change will effect how they interact with the next person they talk to and whatever else they may do. The changes and things we do in our lives, are changing the world! It should make us pause and think a little bit, what kind of impact do I want to make? Slowly and surely we are all making a difference, a big difference! It's not minuscule. It's like in It's a Wonderful Life. That story isn't just about George Daley, it's about all of us. We may not see the immediate impact we have on peoples lives, but maybe the song we chose to have the congregation sing in sacrament touched someones heart and grew their testimony, maybe it was what they needed to hear that day. Maybe sitting by someone in class made them feel a little closer to people than they had in a while. Maybe an email you send to a missionary caused them to sit and reflect and built their faith, which caused them to go out and influence multiple other missionaries and people. Each person leaves a dent in this world and in others lives. So I just want to say to you all. Thanks for existing! Thanks for being here. The world could use a lot more of you guys in it!

Hope you all have a wonderful miracle filled week! I love you guys!!

Sister Johanson JR

Our cute district, a beautiful like backyard and elder Russell's
birthday cake. Go cardinals...but not actually :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Light of Christ be with you in 2016

I'm sorry about the title but these darn churches don't change their marquees for like ever. So yeah. But happy MLK day and happy moon day. Remember to drink all the root beer.

So this week! I feel like not much to say. We've been sick all week and were commanded by our STLS to go to bed early cuz we refused to stay in during the day. But holy cow! So many cool spiritual experiences that come from following the spirit. One of those you'll have to wait to hear about till I come home or some thing cuz otherwise you'll just think I'm an insane person. I do. But Monday we felt really strongly the night before while planning that we should go visit this guy we had just met in passing a few weeks earlier. Well we went and they opened the door and he said to his wife, "honey we need to listen to what these girls have to say" They then proceeded to tell us all the hard things going on in life and you could see the desperation they had to change and become better. He kept saying over and over, "It's no coincidence you guys came tonight. God sent you" we had a prayer with them and they were both crying. It was so amazing. Lots of experiences like that that came with planning this week. Following the spirit is so important. I've never felt like it's been one of my strong suits but my weaknesses are becoming stronger.

We had to clean up an old set of elders apartment this week so we did it as a district activity. Sister Johanson dominated that kitchen. Don't worry it's pretty dang clean ;) We also had many other awkward experiences throughout the week..sorry this is weird and short but gots to go now. Luckily we'll all know everything someday right? That's what I have to keep telling myself as well.

But I hope you have a great week! I love you all and pray for you guys e'rry day. You are all beautiful wonderful human beings. Love you!!!

Sister Johanson JR.

Kattie at church again! She loves taking pictures
Then us and the Killough's baby. She's so chubby.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Tribute to Future Missionaries: Why is a Mission Hard?

Hello all!! I'll start out by saying this week was so great!! We had a roller coaster of a time and the work continues to move forward. A lady slammed a screen door in our face and then had to stand there and look at us..that was so awkwardly funny. But I've been receiving a lot of revelation this week. It's been really neat. And this one time the spirit brought to my remembrance when I was preparing for a mission how every single person I talked to about the decision I was trying to make would always say to me, "Well missions are very hard." So I knew they were hard, but I didn't really have a full picture of why they were hard, what made them hard? I feel like it might've helped me a lot if I really knew what I was deciding to do. Well I've been thinking and pondering about it this week and Heavenly Father told me that I needed to tell all of you why a mission is hard.

Disclaimer: Sister Johanson has personal, individualized struggles that may or may not apply to you if you ever served a mission. 
Other disclaimer: This is in no way telling everyone they need to serve missions. I believe in personal revelation and that God has a specific, individualized plan for everyone.

But being a missionary has been really hard for me. Especially after preparing to come out and I felt like I was spiritually ready and prepared; how could I come closer to Jesus Christ because I felt like I was already so close to Him? But even just my second day of the MTC not only did I feel the impact of all the weaknesses I had, suddenly there were 50 new ones I didn't even know I had!

Every day I feel so inadequate. I've been called to represent Jesus Christ, but how can I? I'm overwhelmed by my inadequacies. My desire is to be a great missionary but I can't keep up a habit that will benefit me, I have to learn the same things over and over.

My companions have problems and it seems like everyone in the world is more qualified to help them but me. What can I say? What can I do? Why am I their companion if I don't know how to help them? I'm so aware of my imperfections and it's so hard not to compare myself to others.

There are times when you will wonder why you're out here. You wonder, "Am I even making a difference? I know this work is here to help me change me but it shouldn't be about me!" You wonder what your purpose is. You wonder if you're feeling this way because you don't have enough faith. 

You see people reject the gospel. You see those you know need it the most, that this is the one thing that would change their life forever, but they never latch on. They just don't get it! You see those that do latch on and work their way towards baptism. They know it's true and have a testimony. And then the test of faith comes and they fall away. They never make that commitment and through the gate. And you're left wondering..why? Was there something I should've done? Or could've done? Or need to repent of? If only I had more faith. If only I tried a little harder or was a better teacher. And it's a burden you carry. 

You trudge along feeling very alone, despite the fact that you can never be alone because you're with someone 24/7. You're going to feel tired all the time. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, socially. My comp told me she talked to a doctor once who said scientifically us as missionaries, the way mission life is set up and the way we're thrown into it all, our bodies shouldn't be able to handle it. We should be physically ill with how we have to adjust to all the changes we go through. You are expected to give your all to the work 24/7, legitimately, you start dreaming about the work. You have to work in the rain, snow, 100% humidity, heat, freezing temperatures. You have to work when you're sick.

Sometimes you have hard companions, people who no matter how hard you try you can't see eye to eye. 

Sometimes you forget. You're out here teaching everyone about the infinite goodness and blessing of the atonement of Jesus Christ and you forget that it's for you too. You tell people that God knows them and loves them; He's their father. But you forget that you're His child too and loves you just as much as the people you're teaching. 

Now I've only scratched the surface of what is hard and what's hard for me is going to be different than what's hard for you, but it will be hard. Elder Holland said, "How could we believe it would be easy for us if it was never easy for Him? Missionaries have to take at least a step or two toward the summit calvary." So why? Why in Sam Hill would anyone ever go through that willingly? Why choose to serve a mission? And I know that a mission isn't for everyone, but oh how I wish it was. I wish every day that we could all experience a mission because it's the most rewarding experience of my life. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my Savior Jesus Christ. I wish I could say all the things I've learned on my mission (and I've only been out 6 months) but it would take too long. This thing is already a novel. I've learned more about myself, about others, and relationships, about God and His church. About His son Jesus Christ, about life and people. About self mastery and life skills. But I think the most important thing I've learned on my mission is love. Because that's what this gospel is all about. If we get to feel some of that agony that Christ felt as He labored for mankind wouldn't it just make sense that we would get to feel some of His divine love that He has for us and others? The love I have for my companions is amazing and God has showed me that I can love anybody He places in my path. 

The love you have for the people you serve is insurmountable. You gain a greater appreciation for the leaders of the church and realize what it means to be God's servant. The ward members become your family. Your love for the priesthood grows and deepens. You get to see the power of God at work in other peoples lives and your own. 

One of the most amazing parts of a mission is seeing how much of a part God plays in every persons life. Everybody you talk to God has been there. He is preparing them, reaching out to them and leading them to happiness; ultimately to Him. You do realize He is your father and His son is your Savior. I have a testimony that there is no spirit like the spirit of sharing the gospel. 
You see the way the gospel blesses lives and families. Seeing the joy the gospel brings is "sweeter above all that is sweet." Because you know they've found it! People have been searching and searching all their lives to find the meaning of happiness to fill that hole in their heart, and you get to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring them the very thing that they've been looking for. And it changes them, completely. You get to SEE the transforming power of the atonement. It's amazing! God is amazing!

My mission has helped me know God. I can't wait for the day when I can enter into His presence. Because I know it will feel something like how I feel on my mission, when I'm sharing the gospel and serving others, but I'll feel it with my family and it will feel like the way I feel now. But 1000x stronger, 100000x fuller and 1,000,000x richer and deeper and it will be lasting. The lines of scriptures and hymns and Mormon messages, songs flash through my head as I talk about it. The words other people have said to me and how they feel about God. The gospel is true! Isn't it exciting!?

This isn't to say that everyone is supposed to or should serve missions. But don't let anything stand in the way of coming if that's what God's will is. And He'll let you know. Because He knows you. And He knows me :) And He knows the people we're supposed to meet and influence, and it could be where you're at right now. But it could be halfway across the world. why is a mission hard? Because it is worth it! I love you guys. And pray for you all every day. The other great thing about missions are that they are fun. They are so that's great too! Haha Have a great week!

Sister Johanson JR

Monday, January 4, 2016

Jesus is coming, are you going?

Hello friends of 2016! 

Doesn't it feel great to be in a brand spankin new year? I love it. The air is so much fresher :) Man I just love New Years. Lots of goal setting. 

This week has been oh so grand. It started off with exchanges with Sister Hill. I got to go to Seneca and we almost died 3 times. 3 head on collisions almost happened within the space of an hour! It was insane! None of them were our fault. The scariest one was when we were going around a really windy road (basically all the roads in SC) and this car comes around and he's in our lane!! He's not slowing down so we slammed on our brakes. By the grace of God alone is how we figured we did not get in an accident cuz heavens to betsy we don't know how he didn't hit us. We both just accepted that it was gonna happen. Man, but we made it through the day in one piece. And Sister Hill is just the greatest ever and just helped me a lot with stuff I've been struggling with. 

We found a lot of new people this week, and it's been great. For New Year's we were on lockdown and so we got some good ole southern food, hush puppies and coleslaw, and tuckered in for the night and spent it making faith as a power goals and Russian rouletting our Bernies and Botts Every Flavored Bean. Nasty things :P

Fun Sister Johanson moment of the week: we went to talk to this potential investigator and he opened the door and I went to introduce myself and go "Hi I'm Sister Miss..." and then I spaced out and he had to finish my thought for me by telling me that I was Sister Johanson. I almost introduced myself as sister missionary, it was the weirdest thing ever. But it's ok, because my comp will never let me live that down so I can remember it forever :) 

It's been a really neat week, we've seen a lot of miracles. I've been studying a lot about the nature of God this week. It's so different than studying just about Jesus Christ. But last week in gospel principles we learned about eternal life and how glorious it will be to live with God again. He knows what we are going through, because He used to be just like us. He went through it all too. There is a talk by S. Michael Wilcox (my favorite talker ever) and it's called no other God's before me. He compares the day that we meet God to a bride on her wedding day. That we should be so anxious and so excited to enter into our Fathers presence that we are spending our whole life preparing so we look our best for when that day comes :) I love our Father. I love knowing that He loves me. In 1 John 4 we learn that God is love. As humans we have a natural craving for love. We don't just crave it, we need it. So knowing that God is our loving heavenly father, it should make us want to know Him better. Want to be closer to Him. Because through that is when we feel the most purest forms of love. As we love, we become like God. It's amazing to me how the gospel is centered around love. It's what it's all about. And I love this gospel, and hope you do too. I'm so excited to be on my mission all year long. Trying to become a beacon of love. I love you guys!!! Hope you have a great week and a great year! 


Sister Johanson JR

My comp makes me take pictures.

And that's me at the dentist, I did not like it. But good news! No
cavity. My filling is breaking a little tho, so it hurts :/