Christmas

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
I have done lots of fun things lately so this will be exciting!
Christmas Eve we had a district gift exchange. Some Elders got H. Poulton a ton of shoes that were all found by the dumpster?! I got Disney Princess themed things including a bubble wand and pens. Then we went to a dinner at the Gonzales house. They own a restaurant and they fed us lots of delicious things. The only thing was… they plates were monsterous and completely packed. They gave us steak that was two inches thick! Maybe closer to 2 1/2! Then cheesecake… Then we sang them carols and it was actually hard to sing on such a full stomach. Then they gave us stockings which was super cute, and we all shared favorite scripture stories. My favorite Abinidi, was the first one mentioned so I talked about Ammon.
On Christmas we woke up and immediately opened our presents. We were all in our own little world for it because we didn’t have to open presents one by one like at home. Some members gave us stuff which was way cute! We went to the Gonzales for breakfast as well which was super fun. Then we visited Christian and Paola. Paola got a pink pellet gun for Christmas so we shot some cans (pretty sure that’s against the rules…). I even hit the can a couple times, and once it went completely through it. We visited an elderly couple. Then we visited the Mares family to skype. It was fun talking to family and seeing everyone. Then we went to our investigator’s house, Rafael and his two daughters. They fed us and we talked and they gave us presents. They’re so cute! We want them to be baptized so bad! Then we saw H. Jardon’s family that live in our area. They’re like her aunt’s cousins or something, but it was fun. Both Christmas Eve and Christmas were super long and way fun because of the members!!
On Friday we went to visit the Borrayos, the mom is the Primary President. It was really nice, they asked for our help to bake chocolate chip cookies. They can never get them to turn out soft, so H. Poulton and I used our store of cookie knowledge to help. And they turned out perfect. We gave a thought about increasing your light, the light of Christ. I put my two cents in about missionary work and we asked if there was anyone she knows who might need to hear our message. She gave us seven people! Seven!!! A few of them really sound promising two. One already has come to church this last month and some have had family problems that could really benefit from the gospel.
On Saturday we went to a baptism so H. Poulton could play. On the way there we found a restaurant, The Hat and ordered chili cheese fries. They were delicious but such a mess, and not healthy at all. The baptism was really nice, in this cool building that looks like a cathedral. Then we had two dinners. One at Golden Corral! Rafael invited us and the girls were so excited. Paola insisted we say a prayer, even without our mentioning it. Apparently she always reminds them before meals which is so cute. Then we went to the Elders’ Quorum President’s house as soon as our first dinner ended. It was actually not that bad. The fifteen minutes in the car settled my stomach enough to eat ribs!
Yesterday we taught about the law of chastity to our investigator Christian. At the end he asked us what it meant to us in a surprisingly direct manner. There was this moment when we talked about the blessings of this law and it was really amazing. We are such wonderful, and amazing beings. We have been given the ability to procreate by God but only to be used in the sanctity of marriage. We talked about how when it is under those terms, everything means so much more, and it is something worth waiting for. We also went up to Arcadia to do FHE with President Becerra. It was a music one, and since H. Poulton plays the piano we got to go so she could perform. They had two kids Rachel and Peter Moogimachu(?). They have been on the Jay Leno Show and so they were incredible. They are 8 and 11 and they regularly play Mozart and Chopin and all sorts… from memory. It was incredible! Their parents are amazing too, an ER doctor and hand surgeon. They just have to get the dad to convert and they are set!
Anyways, I hope you all had a good Christmas and felt of the joy. I get to bring that joy to people all year round! I am so thrilled for this opportunity and I love the gospel and know it to be true.
Love you all, and to all going to BYU next week, good luck with the first day of the semester!
Hermana Laura Johnson
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Week 11: Twas the week before Christmas

Hola todas las personas!
 
So I don’t really know what has happened this week, nothing too interesting though. I’m currently looking within my journal for the exciting things. It’s actually sad that I can’t remember what’s happened lately, oh well. And on that, my memories of things before my mission is slowly fading. It’s going to be fun to remember everything later.
 
First up–We did a ton of service this week. We took down branches from a couple trees at the Bishop’s house, and eventually took them down right to the trunk. We also helped to make boxes with canned food for needy people in the area. The ward needed a lot of help so we stayed and then delivered boxes for almost the whole day.
 
We also have eaten a lot of food lately… Like a lot. Everyone seems to think we’re starving, so they give us a lot and then ask if we want more. Yesterday this happened, then the family asked if we wanted leftovers. It was great though, we ate at two and I didn’t even have to eat dinner, lunch lasted me all night. And same thing with this week. We have been asked by so many what we are doing for Christmas because they all want to feed us. But tonight we’re going to eat with a family that owns a restaurant, so it will be delicious, then tomorrow, breakfast with them. Then we’re going to dinner with the Mares family, and then another dinner with one of our investigator families, the Hernandez family!
 
The Hernandez family is a dad and his two daughters. He is such a great dad. They are so sweet! They invited us for Christmas, and later this week for dinner again. They came to church yesterday and we were just so excited. They are usually tired and even our calling them didn’t wake them up, but when they woke up, they came and heard us sing in the choir. We sang ‘Jesus en Pesebre’, or ‘Away in a Manger’. The choir was great, one thing- Hispanics, like I said last week can’t sing too well. There were a couple ladies who somehow sounded like cats singing though. But it was still a great song.
 
This week was Elder Reisner’s birthday, our district leader. So we went out to eat at Olive Garden. It was super fun. My companions stayed up to write a weird poem to him. The Hermanas went to the bathroom and apparently they went crazy with H. Poulton’s camera. When we got home, we saw all these weird pictures of their nasty, hairy legs. And today we found more of them making weird faces at the camera. And E. Reisner and E. Markham can make some weiiiiird faces.
 
So last Saturday night E. Reisner left his coat in our trunk. We then sprayed it with perfume and stuck it in a bag so that the scent wouldn’t be able to escape and would stay in the fibers. Well… apparently he smells a lot like girl when he wears it and it won’t go away. He brings it up everytime he sees us. I think it’s hilarious. Apparently he and his companion E. Markham will forget about it, then get all confused because they don’t see any girls. Then they realize it’s just E. Reisner. He wore it in someone’s car and they were all guys, so he felt super weird about it. 
 
Yesterday we taught a girl, Yesse. We knocked on her door to borrow a pen, but I remembered she was taught by the missionaries at one point. So we decided to talk to her aboutmormon.org. H. Jardon asked after if she remembered the website, and she didn’t. So she told her to get paper. Yesse said she didn’t have any. Funny thing, the entire time she had a napkin plugged up her nose. H. Jardon gestured to the napkin and said she could use that if she couldn’t find any. It was just ridiculous and somehow we didn’t burst out laughing until later. In the end we were invited in and we have another appointment with her this week.
 
Last P-day was crazy (as they all are). We took a zillion hours to print pictures, and we hadn’t eaten at around 4. So we went to the church building and decided to break into our food that we had just bought. We first went with cereal but there weren’t bowls so we had it in cups. Then we were just too hungry, so we ate a rotisserie chicken in about ten minutes. We were starving!
 
Anyways, I’m really excited for Christmas! This has been a great time to teach. We have met like two people who want to hear our Christmas message. This time makes me reflect on what I have and what I’m doing here. I am bringing people to the knowledge of Heavenly Father’s plan for them, and how they can return to him. I really see the difference this knowledge has had in my life. I know that this church is true and through Christ, all of us can become the people we want to become, and who Christ knows we can become. I love this gospel and I’m glad I am doing His work.
 
Love,
Hermana Laura Johnson

 

 

Week 10 Christmas Parties

Hola!!
 
So this week was fun. On Friday we had both our Mission Christmas party and ward one. The Mission party was so much fun. H Poulton played this crazy piano piece she used for a recital. We were in the talent show as back up dancers to E Risner. He sang a song called Mormon Rap and we did some crazy dance moves behind him. We also decided to have ribbon dancers so it was just ridiculous. In the ward talent show we had three different costumes. First fish, then shepards, then snowmen. Those snowmen outfits are insane. I don’t even need to explain, just look at the picture. Everyone wanted to take pictures with us because who ever sees people who dress up like that? It was weird for sure. At the same time, it was great, something hilarious right?
 
Sunday they had no speakers planned. So they asked the missionaries to speak. Instead we ended up deciding to do a musical number. They usually never have people who can play piano, or have good voices here so it was not normal for a musical number. H Poulton played and H Jardon and I sang. With five minutes to practice we picked a song that was too high for H Jardon– I Know that My Redeemer Lives. She could do the second half, but not the first. So since we had little time to change songs, I sang a solo for the first half of the two verses we sang. As I was singing, I realized that a lot of people in the congregation were crying. That was totally a new experience to witness. It was funny afterwards because one of our investigators, Christian said that H Jardon could be a rapper and that’s how she sounded.
 
We cleaned someone’s backyard. There was this thing stuck in the ground I dug out. It was huge and we couldn’t figure out what it was until it was out. It was actually a car battery! H Poulton said that I looked like Joseph Smith, digging up the gold plates because they were the perfect size and weight.
 
Also I have 100% realized how awkward I am on the phone. We tried calling people to ask if they wanted to hear a Christmas message and it just didn’t work. Half of them are English, the other half Spanish so I never know what language to use, and they just hang up. And leaving a message?? I just sound like a voice recording advertising something.
 
We decided to go carolling and found some interested people. One gave us cinnamon tea (just cinnamon in water–really good with little effort), and bread. His name is Francisco and he sounds really ready.
 
One of our investigators can’t go to church because her sick husband needs a lot of support. So in our lesson, I brought up blessings for the sick. So he might get one this week. That was pretty exciting to bring that up, I felt like I really contributed that, whereas usually I don’t know what’s going on and say nothing. She sounded interested so we’ll see what happens.
 
DON’T READ IF YOU’RE QUEASY
Oh I didn’t even mention the finger! Tuesday some kid cut off the tip of his finger when a door shut (right to where the bone started). It was during a RS dinner and it was crazy. We came out in the hall and there was blood everywhere since he ran around after it happened. So we freaked out about it and cleaned up. H Poulton prayed not to dream about fingers being cut off. It is firmly in my memory. They found the tip, it was the size of a bean!
 
Anyways gotta go!
Love everyone!
Hermana Laura JohnsonImageImage

Week 9 Arriving in Arcadia

Hola amigos y familia!
 
So it’s been awhile since I wrote. So much has happened but not much all at the same time.
 
Did I say that we changed classrooms? Well we did and it was HOT in there. At one point we were just all out of it, we were fed up and tired and then a fly came in the room. Everyone went crazy, we were just over the edge. Hermana Billings stood on a chair and jumped and smashed the fly on the ceiling. The fly was stuck to the ceiling though, so there’s a present for the new class… And two seconds later they opened the blinds and a fly flew out. Elder Reinhardt tried to kill it on the window and it took about ten tries. It was crazy.
 
We had a class lesson to Angel about his baptism. We asked him if he wanted to share his testimony after baptism and he was apprehensive so Elder Crane said to Angel, “Tiene un bonita testimonio.” Meaning you have a pretty testimony except not even gramatically correct. Yeah would that calm someone’s fears? Not really sure.
 
Our last Sunday was fast Sunday. Our district sang God be with you til we meet again (but in Spanish). It was good. We all ended up bearing our testimonies and it was such a spiritual meeting. Even some of the Elders cried, only Elder Brueggeman from our district though. It was heartwarming. The other Elders are practically emotionless, they haven’t cried in like 6 years!! Who does that?!? They think it’s all manly…. Oh well. No emotions is just weird. The departing devotional was good. All of the MTC presidency knew our district by then so they talked to us before we left. They said the MTC would miss us but we would do a lot of good in our respective areas.
 
So I guess I should talk about California… Well I’m here! We met our mission president and his wife and went to the mission office. They gave us paperwork, lunch and actually let us take naps. Hermana Connelly spilled her soy sauce all over me as a goodbye. Hermana Connelly and I slept in the Mother’s room which was actually not the best. The chairs were not good to sleep in so I slept on the floor. Then we met our companions. Well I’m in a trio! My companions are Hermanas Jardon and Poulton. Hermana Jardon is a native Spanish speaker from… Canada? And Hermana Poulton is from Bountiful, UT and is actually going to Malaga,Spain but is waiting on her visa so she could leave at any time. They have only been out here a few months, so they’re pretty new too. I’m in an area called Rimgrove, which is exciting. We got lost going home, and have since gotten lost a few times. I even have to drive which is dumb but at least they’re directing me. It’s perfect weather here. I just have my cardigan and that is perfect all day.
 
Well my first lesson here went alright. It was actually with a recent convert, Charlize, and was half in English, which I liked. The lessons are kind of confusing. I can kind of follow along what’s happening but I get confused. And especially with conversations not about the gospel, I don’t know what is going on.
 
We talked with a guy that looked to be homeless, though isn’t. He did try and run a homeless shelter from his home though. He thought we were Jehovah’s witnesses. He just kept talking and talking about all sorts of religions it was crazy.
 
We are in a play for the ward Christmas party. It’s crazy dance moves, that go with this ridiculous music. I’ll have to send a picture sometime. We are wearing top hats and possibly snowman outfits. It includes all of my district, which is the missionaries in my ward. We have three sets of missionaries!
 
We have been meeting with a guy named Victor. I don’t know his full story but he found the missionaries on the street and thought there was something different about them. They have told him what he needs to do to change but he doesn’t but he wants to keep meeting with us. So it’s interesting. We met three times this week, including once at a gas station. Our last lesson, yesterday was at the church. We need him to commit to a baptism date so we can have a definite timeline for him. Well I read D&C 121:8 about how hard times will only be for a short time. And Hermana Poulton read about patience because for him, change is hard. After a few tears from all the sisters, he told us he would definitely do more. Then later in the day we got a text saying he’s ready to change and we just have to help him. So I really hope things keep going well with him.
 
Another investigator is named Marta. I asked her to be baptized and she said yes, but didn’t commit to a date exactly. She has a really sick husband who is against the church from what it sounds like. But she is pretty great. She loved everything we had to say and was excited to learn more.
 
We’re teaching a boy, Christian. He’s great and his sister is a member though not active. He always wants to watch movies though. I think he needs to better understand why we come. But he does have a baptism date, December 23rd which is coming up quick. We also teach him English and he has a funny accent.
 
Also I had a dog jump all over me on Saturday. Why do people like dogs?!? He got me all dirty and my companions so we all had to change. It was funny but gross all at the same time.
 
Oh our address for letters only (packages to mission office)
Hermana Laura Johnson
511 Sunset Avenue #12
La Puente, CA 91744
 
This address is not permanent. So keep that in mind. Just use the mission office (W Duarte Road) if concerned it might not get to me.
 
Well I have no more time. Eventually I’ll send pictures.
 
Much love,
Hermana Laura Johnson

 

 

Week 8

Hola todos!

Well… I have THREE DAYS! It’s crazy. We had in-field orientation yesterday which was so fun. And I am pumped and ready to leave the MTC prison!

OK first order of business. If you want to write me, it costs to send a Dear Elder to CA. So options:
1. Write me via snail mail! My address is
Sister Laura Johnson
California Arcadia Mission
170 W Duarte Road
Arcadia, CA 91007

The thing is, this is just the mission home. They used to forward the mail to our apartments but the post office doesn’t want to do that anymore. Next week when I get to CA I will get my address and they say we can give out our apartment address and people can send mail there directly. So you can do either. 

2. You can write me via Dear Elder and pay the same as snail mail! No change there.

3. You can email me johnson.laura@myldsmail.net But there is a problem. I can only respond to family by email. So if you do this, just make sure to put your address.

Moving on!

Last Sunday I spoke in church! In Spanish! It was actually pretty good. I talked about the Book of Mormon. It was basically why we need to share the importance of our message. It is people’s salvation! The difference between living in God’s presence, with their families, or not! We need to share it!

So not too much happened this week. We moved classrooms so our whole floor could be turned into women’s dorms! It will be crazy in another month! We are now in a ghetto building that is super hot and has tiny desks. Not so fun. It also feels like it is half the size of our previous classroom. We’re happy that we’re just here a few days.

Hilarious moment. Hermano Gunter was explaining something to the Elders so he told the sisters to be quiet and we sat there doing our work. We have these mini whiteboards to use in class. Elder Christensen wanted one and Hermana Connelly finished with hers. She told him she was going to throw it, and for some reason he looked down and started writing or something?! So the whiteboard was in the air when he looked down and it loudly smacked him right on the head. Hermano Gunter was at the board, and he turned around and asked who was throwing things. Hermana Connelly acknowledged it was her. His response was hilarious, he said, “Ok sisters, you don’t have to be quiet if you stop throwing things!!!” 

Another funny thing. So I like to say that things are cute. Especially the last few months. So we said it in English a lot but I wanted to know in Spanish. I asked a teacher and all the Elders said, “It’s a trap!!” But he told me anyways. The word is lindo/a depending on the gender. Well Elder Reinhardt has had some problems (hemmeroids–whatever there’s no spell check and I can’t speak English anymore) and had to go to the hospital. He met an old lady named Linda. He asked her, “Did you know your name means cute in Spanish?” I about died. That is soooo awkward/hilarious. He’s a missionary! And that was pretty much a pick-up line. Plus it was an old lady. Pretty awkward situation.

Hermana Connelly dared me to be part of a demonstration. So I did it. I had to get an egg through a glass jar with a small spout. Everyone knows that one, put in a lit match and the oxygen gets used by the fire and so the air pressure forces the egg into the jar. Or maybe just nerds like me know that. Anyways it relates to the gospel! It may seem impossible but it can happen! We just have to know what to do to get it to work. We have to pray, fast, read the scriptures, and anything else that will lead us to the answer. There will be plenty of times that this happens to me. I won’t know what to do but I will have to find a way. “I will go and do!”

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the crying at every spiritual thing…. Yeah I’m at the MTC so it’s kind of bad. I’ve always been this way so it’s not entirely a shock. I don’t know what my class thinks though. I know our Branch President mentioned it and said that at least it’s never for anything bad… Hermana Billings said that if she’s about to cry she just thinks of me and how I just sit there and cry, without embarrassment, and thinks that if I cry in front of everyone, it’s okay for her, which is good? Seriously every Sunday, it’s so spiritual here and I usually cry at something. On Tuesdays we have TRC, which are straight spiritual messages with members and I cry half the time, and then Tuesdays we have devotionals and I cry at some point every other week or so. Not so much in our lessons though, I have cried in front of each of our investigators once when it was just super emotional but not so much. Oh and when we watch Mormon messages? Almost always. 

Put up the link for Good things to come from Elder Holland, every time I at least have one tear. And I’ve watched it at least 4 times since I’ve been here. Okay this seriously is the best message if you are having a hard time. If you don’t feel like you can move forward in your life, or aren’t sure that God answers your prayers and brings the answers you think you deserve. Just wait. The gospel message is one of happiness. Those who do embrace it will be blessed no matter what. It doesn’t mean you won’t have hard times, it just means you will be able to get through them and learn the lessons associated with them. Those trials will make you who you are, they will shape you into a better person if you are willing to have a good attitude about them. And my favorite line from the message, “Some blessings come early, some blessings come late and some don’t come ’til Heaven. But with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they will come.” I know this is true. Heavenly Father will give us the blessings that come when we follow Him.

Well time’s up!

Love everyone!
Hermana Laura Johnson