Week 59

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
 
Important announcement! Our mission office is changing which means you will have to write me at a different address. We just barely found out but the change becomes effective sometime in early December. I think you can do both for a little while so I should get anything sent to either one.
 
Hermana Laura Johnson
614 W. Foothill Blvd.
Arcadia, CA 91006
 
This week was just amazing. Something happened to H Davis and I between exchanges and zone conference, I don’t even know what happened but baptism just clicked for us both. It’s hard to explain but I now get why investigators need it, why it is central in our teaching, why we can’t be afraid to mention it at every instance etc. We have used the picture of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in almost every contact, lesson since then. It has truly opened people’s hearts in a way I’ve never seen before. Baptism is truly what this is all about. And for those already baptized it is renewing those covenants. It really did change us, our teaching, I am so glad it just makes sense now. That means it changes our priorities, how we interact with people. I hope it really does show in the quality of our teaching, and investigators–we want people who want to progress!
One of the things mentioned at zone conference was a funny story that really got to us. Elder Ingram said he and his companion were at a lesson and the family they were teaching was making jokes with their member friends. The Elders didn’t get the joke since it was Spanish. To bring it back, Elder Ostler said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about but here’s something I do know about: baptism.” And then they got back on topic, it kind of shocked everyone. Baptism! It was awesome! I get it now, I feel like the rest of my whole mission will be so much more purposeful now. People don’t stay investigating if they don’t get what it’s all about baptism by the proper authority to receive salvation. You can only find it here, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Wow. It’s amazing. It’s not about Joseph Smith, not about prophets or the Book of Mormon. Those are important, but just the means to baptism by the proper authority. It’s about baptism to return to Heavenly Father. I’m so glad I’ve figured it out!
 
On Monday we met a referral from other members of the ward, started teaching them. They already have had good experiences with the church, so they are really excited to learn. The family in our ward is really willing to go out of their way to help, I am positive they will be baptized, just when we’re not sure. On Friday we taught the restoration, and the spirit was really strong! I know they felt it, want it for themselves. The Hna that came with us gave a powerful testimony that touched their hearts. The 22 year old daughter Martha agreed to be baptized on December 22 and last night we read 3 Nephi 19 together (such an amazing chapter!! all about praying, receiving the Holy Ghost, a testimony, then straight away being baptized). That chapter really solidified her for baptism, and helped her understand what she has to do–pray for the Holy Ghost to manifest the truth to her. It will happen, I am sure of it. They are very open, and want it to be true because they know the happiness it brings their cousins. Martha even said in her prayer she is 100% open to find out the truth, act on it. Wow it was so special!
 
Sunday was super special. We had the primary program and 9 less actives, and non-members came from our area. It really surprised us! It was a miracle! One of the people who came was the husband of a recent convert. He liked it, said he would possibly come again, and we even set up an FHE for this week. It will be a great week, we hope to start teaching him soon!
 
Yesterday H Davis said the funniest thing in Spanish. She was talking about a recent convert who was sick, said he didn’t come to church because “El esta muy malo” which made him sound like he was a bad little boy instead of just sick. She said it to our ward mission leader, I about died laughing, had to leave the room.
 
Also before zone conference our car died! So we had the Elders come jump our car. It was an ordeal. We couldn’t move the car because it wouldn’t go into neutral, there was a car next to ours. We had to wander around trying to find long jumper cables or the owner of the car. Luckily the owner left really quickly after.
 
Friday night was crazy as well because Sister Dewitt got hit by a car!!! We just got a text saying they were headed to the hospital, we had no idea what had happened for the longest time. A guy who they think was drunk hit her full speed. He came up really fast in the intersection, didn’t stop completely. Her body took the impact, she fell on the ground. The guy stopped after he saw what happened, but she was able to move so he drove off! She had a gash on her left side that had to be stitched up with 12 stitches and she got a small cut on her spleen but that was it besides the nasty bruise. Somehow nothing else happened! We have no idea how she didn’t break any bones or fracture anything, no scrapes or anything. Right now she’s in a lot of pain but nothing too bad, she’s at home resting. It was a crazy weekend for them!
 
There’s so much more but that’s all I’ve got time for this week!
 
Love you all! Happy holidays!
Hermana Laura Johnson
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Week 58

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Hola mis amigos! One more week until Thanksgiving!
 
Things are good here in California! Not too many super crazy things.
 
A member gave me some stamps this week. They’re Christian stamps. I don’t think they knew that we don’t really use crosses in the LDS church… Oh well. So if you get a letter with one on it don’t worry about it! I’m using them anyways!
 
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Monday night was crazy. We had a really amazing time finding, we got a lesson set up for tonight, and found a really amazing family that wanted to find the true church because they knew the church they had been at was wrong. It was all really good, it kept going even after we got home. We talked with the English sisters we live with, they told us about their night. They knocked their investigator’s door, he wasn’t home. They talked to someone else, Sister Fjeldsted knew they had to return to their investigator’s door, so they went back. They just got home, they talked to the dad. They hadn’t really talked to him much, but he told them he was baptized 15 years ago in our ward! That’s crazy! They told us the address, we realized that we had already knocked that door, met their investigator Andy. Both H Davis and I had wanted to meet them even though we had no connection to them (we almost never knock random doors). And they said that when they met Andy he had had a dream about them, already knew who they were, representatives of Christ. He even went to church two days after they met him. It was so interesting! Heavenly Father wants them to hear the gospel! It is so amazing to be here, see Heavenly Father working through us to bring people the gospel, and to remind them if they already had it.
 
We also found some other less actives this week. Again we knocked on a random door (which we never do!) and I used the bathroom. The lady gave us some juice, told us her religious background. She casually mentioned she was baptized Mormon at age 8, we had to ask her to repeat it, we were in shock. She wasn’t ever really active, she changed religions since. We taught the restoration and it actually went really crazy. She believed in prophets, believed in Christ, that his authority was lost, that it needed to be restored. However she told us about how in her church she has a prophet, so she didn’t accept Joseph Smith and she refused a copy of the Book of Mormon. She didn’t think God could give us more scripture. Plus she needs milk before meat, she didn’t know enough about the Bible to read the BoM (not true she was straight up quoting the Bible). The most ridiculous part was when we prayed. She pulled out a veil, wore it on her head, gave this crazy, lavish prayer with her hands raised. It was like 10 minutes long, and was just absurd. It kind of scared us actually. I don’t know whether it was respectful or not to God… it was really too much. Creepy.
 
The other less active we met when we missed our bus outside of our apartment. He was actually on the bus we missed, we would never have talked if we got there in time. He lives in our apartment complex (which is kind of big), with his wife. He has a couple of days off of work, so hopefully the Elders can visit him. It sounds like he just stopped going to church when he got really busy like 10 years ago.
 
Thursday was crazy. We rode our bikes through some thorns, had a ton of holes in our tires! So the men in the ward got to work on fixing the tires while we did piano lessons. It was really cool to see them helping us out. We left to give a tour to a family that had come for piano lessons. It was really amazing, they really felt the spirit during the tour, we’re going to teach them again for the next piano lesson. Then we went back to our problem. After 1 hour, one man of another ward just got us new tubes so we wouldn’t have to keep patching them. He didn’t even let us pay him back! It was late, so one family gave us a ride back. The next day we took the bus back to the church to pick up the bikes, H Davis’ front tire was flat again! A thorn had gone all the way through, you couldn’t see it from the outside, she hadn’t felt it in the tire the night before. So we went to walmart, with a member, got a new tire, fixed it for the last time! We really saw how much this church serves this week! Everyone was so willing to help us. One of the members even said, “Your parents back home don’t have to worry about you. You have your own family here in CA!” They are so sweet!
 
We have had some amazing lessons with less actives, members. We have been sharing the work of salvation videos with people. They are so amazing to watch. We had a really great lesson with a less active, her recent convert dad. We showed this video and I think it really inspired the less active to think about the future her children can have. She really does want to go to church, we’re praying that she will soon.
 
We also had a really amazing contact with two sisters on the street. We asked if they had been to our church, turns out one of the ladies has a son who was in our ward, so she had been to church. We asked if they wanted a visit, they said they were moving, today, so they couldn’t! We asked for their phone number so we could ask for their new address to send missionaries to their new house, they said they would love it. That sparked a discussion between H Davis and I about how family members of members need the gospel! We have sent out a bunch of referrals for family members of members in different areas, not just here in the Arcadia mission. If you have any family members who aren’t members who haven’t talked to missionaries before, I would highly encourage you that you do so. A lot of them will accept the message, especially because they will have seen your example. You can send missionaries by going here. Just think of anyone else, family, friend, coworker anyone you know! Whether close by or far away, missionaries can reach them.
 
I know this church is true. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet. He translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God. I know it because I have studied, prayed to know. I know that anyone else can gain that testimony for themselves if they read, pray, attend church as well, really put in the effort to know.
 
I love you guys!
Hermana Laura Johnson

Week 57

Hola mis amigos!
 
And the first sister missionary to be hit by a car? Oh yeah, that would be me. It was on Saturday when I was crossing the street and a car was turning right on red, the lady didn’t notice me (she just saw Hna Davis, didn’t realize there was another biker). She hit the last couple inches of my bike, knocked it out from under me. I didn’t fall or get hurt or anything but the tire popped off.  The lady asked if I was ok, I said I was but the bike wasn’t and when I crossed the street she drove off. A witness saw it, chased after her, tried to get her information but she wouldn’t give it to him because I said I was fine. He did get her license plate number. Some people helped fix the bike, including the Elders, and we got it in working condition. So pretty much I was shaken up and was mentally out of it all day but nothing long term happened!
 
From my weekly letter since I’m running out of time to write:
“Yesterday was really amazing. We had really good studies, interestingly enough both Hna Davis and I were inspired to read the same chapter about Ammon wanting to serve the Lamanites, wanted to dwell there until he died and he got to work. Then while working the sheep were scattered and the people cried about it, Ammon decided that no he wouldn’t take it as an excuse to stop as well. He kept working, solved the problem and astonished everyone. It inspired us to get out to work last night. We talked to a lot of people in our short 3 hours, we found a really amazing referral for Rimgrove. It is a family that is looking for a new church because they know the Catholic church is wrong. Once we started talking, the woman asked us if we or the leaders of our church come to people’s houses to teach. It was amazing! We said yes, got her address and everything so the missionaries in Rimgrove can go by this week. I feel like we are so close to meeting an amazing family here in our own ward. And we are working hard to do it.”
 
We decided to ride through the neighborhoods instead of sticking to the main roads to find people on our way to other places. It’s worked pretty well so far! We met a many Johnny literally 1 minute after we remembered that goal. We were on a main street, took the next side street, met him, got his address and we should visit him this week.
 
We also had a really amazing Sunday. I spoke on missionary work using Elder Nielsen’s talk about being excited to do missionary work! It was really awesome. I talked about how it should be exciting, not a hassle. I remember giving a Book of Mormon to one of my co-workers before I left my internship last summer, and it made me so excited! I remember I was smiling for days about it. We should all have that enthusiasm, we are bringing salvation to people’s souls! How exciting is that! Right after I spoke, I played piano for H Davis, she sang I’m Trying to be like Jesus. It was really awesome, all right after another. Missionary work is being Christlike, sharing his love!
 
Quotes from the talk:
“Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him”
 
Since we are all on the Lord’s team, do we each have our own winning game plan? Are we ready to play? If we, as members, really loved our family, friends, and associates, wouldn’t we want to share our testimony of the restored gospel with them?
 
Elder L. Tom Perry added the concluding comments: “This is the most remarkable era in the history of the Church. This is something that ranks with the great events that have happened in past history, like the First Vision, like the gift of the Book of Mormon, like the Restoration of the gospel, like all of the things that build that foundation for us to go forward and teach in our Father in Heaven’s kingdom”
 
We need to be engaged as never before to match the excitement of our leaders and the commitment of our full-time missionaries. This work is not going to move forward in the Lord’s intended way without us!

First, specifically pray to bring someone closer to the Savior and His gospel every day. You could do this by seeing all people as sons and daughters of God helping each other on their journey home. Think of the new friends you would make.

Second, pray for the missionaries serving in your area and their investigators by name every day. The only way to do this is to greet them, look at their badge, call them by name, and ask them who they are teaching. Elder Russell M. Nelson wisely contributed, “Until you know a person’s name and face, the Lord cannot help you know his or her heart.”

Third, invite a friend to an activity in or out of your home. Wherever you go or whatever you do, ponder who would enjoy the occasion and then listen to the Spirit as He directs you.

I really encourage anyone reading this to do those three suggestions. We as missionaries need all of your help to do this work, especially your help, participation! You will feel the spirit more in your life, will feel more love for your friends, family as you share with them. I promise you you will see it!

There was a baptism on Saturday for one of the Elder’s investigators. It was really cool. After the baptism we watched a video from the Work of Salvation. It was really inspiring. I felt the spirit so strong. This work is God’s work, we must be apart of it! The Bishop, a counselor shared their testimonies, I just really felt it. Baptism is really where the gospel begins to bless the lives of the people around us. We just have to help them get to that point.
 
I love you all. Have a good week!
Hermana Laura Johnson
 
PS. Looks like facebook will be soon, sometime before the end of the year. The leaders of  mission are on, just not the normal folks yet! And enjoy this weird picture of me modeling with a cookie.
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Week 56

Hola!

Lots of stuff as always.

Last Monday was stinking hilarious. We moved a couch from our room to the living room. We still have no idea how we managed to get it out seeing as the door frame was like 2-3 inches smaller than the couch, there was the heater that jutted out 4-5 inches. Plus the door knobs that the couch got stuck on. It took a long time, there was a lot of laughter though since it was just so hilarious. H Davis said that we should be the mormon missionary furniture movers, arrangers. We had so many strange furniture arrangements trying to get the couch to work in our room, then in the living room after we got it out. So funny.
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The Alvarez family who we were teaching dropped us this week. (from my weekly letter)
The family we’re teaching decided to stay Catholic. They told us how involved they are in their Catholic church, Jose is a greeter, he helps out, knows a lot of people, they’ve gone for years and years. I also don’t think they ever had intentions to join our church at the beginning. They wanted help, thinking they could still stay in their church. They did realize that we have a lot to offer, it scared Jose. He stared to realize we have the truth, he changed a lot of his views on things. He used to think the Catholic church is true, by the end he said that every church is true if it leads one to God. I think he was saying that because it meant he could still be right about the Catholic church, not give in that we actually have the truth. It was so sad!
We saw a member who was the cutest thing. She told us how she really wanted to be like her siblings, feed the missionaries. So she did. She invited us over, gave us horchata (delicious), a soup, some enchiladas. It was amazing. She was just so cute about everything. For the Hispanics  feeding the missionaries is a big deal! It was great that we got to be there for her first experience feeding the missionaries. As they feed us, they get so many blessings as reward and these people see it and love it!
We got a few referrals from people off the street this week. It was awesome. We’re teaching one lady Melba now, we have an appointment for the other this week. We’re doing good. I really enjoy it! Although a lot of the people we’ve met on the street, by knocking this week have been straight up crazy. One guy who believes in Jesus told us that Jesus’s death signified how religion can’t save you…? Then people who don’t really know what they believe by the sounds of what they tell us!
Saturday was interesting. We met a member from the San Gabriel ward at the mall where we went contacting. We told her we liked her sweater, she said “Yep you’ve got to have a sweater for church!” We thought it was her trying to tell us to back off, she was already religious. But then we kept talking, she then told us she’s a member! What the! She was there with her daughter, granddaughter. She gave us the address for her daughter who’s less active. She actually lives in Rimgrove though, but it was so cool! Of all the random things to happen. Seriously.
And last night at the end of our fast we went to see a less active. One of the people she referred us to was there. We had set up an appointment last Monday, but she wasn’t there, she was yesterday! That was just awesome! Heavenly Father just put her in our path to make sure we go back to see her. We had a short lesson, she could definitely feel the spirit. I really hope it all works out!
Thanks for everything. The gospel is true! Love it! Have a good week.
Love,
Hermana Laura Johnson