Monday, March 24, 2014

Forever 21

Well...we spent a good amount of time out of our sector this week, but thats okay. 
Monday we headed down to Santiago with Hermana Stanger....I saw one of the ganster cars from Cars and almost died. We were with Hermana Stanger....and she backed into a car. Fun right? She`s the greatest!! we went down with her to do trasmites...and special interviews. which went well. Hermana stanger and I stayed up late chatting. It was cool:) I loved hearing about her life!

One of our investigators is progressing well. We have several people who struggle with the word of wisdom right now...A* is one of them. But every time he reads, he doesn`t smoke or drink! Its great. We had a FHE with him and a great family in the ward yesterday. We worked lots on extending baptismal dates this week, but it was SO funny. We found out in doing so that many were already members, or others were moving to another part of the country...or another country!! It was crazy funny...but God knows I did my part. So its okay. 

I gave a talk this Sunday. I feel like it went well. But it wasnt anything special. 
..and yes. This week I hit the big ....TWO ONE! LEGIT. Its crazy to think that I`m gonna be turning 21....and in the mission. But I dont think there`s a better way to have my birthday!!! What a blessing!!! 

I dont feel too different...I just feel normal. 
But yea. FOREVER 21!!!! 

Love you all!!! 
Hermana Alex Johnson

Doing service, making bread!

Alex says this is her tan line... I questioned if it was just dirt from biking so much! LOL!

Hermana Johnson fishing!

Going for the hole!

She loved this!

The car from Cars that she spied. LOL!

Santa Maria in the sun

Santa Maria on the way home... riding the bus

What a beautiful place!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Another Adventurous week in Santa Maria

I never know how exactly to start these stinkin START.
Passed the 13 month marker...13 months on the 13th. Golden anniversary. ...and.....MOVING ON.

FINALLY the weather is starting to .....not be QUITE as hot haha. Its still hot, but I dont walk around drenched like I just went swimming haha. 

Well, last Monday, we ate at the best sandwich joint of my life. It was DELIIISSSHH. 
One day we were working we started knocking a department complex ...and we literally knocked EVERY door in the department complex and NOT ONE ANSWERED us...not that they didnt have interest or whatever, they didnt even answer us.It was a bit of a hint that we better hit the road and haed out...somewhere else. So we went off to the side to the road, said a quick prayer, and then got going....before lunch we STILL didnt have much success. But we continued working hard....diligently of course. After lunch that was like BAM. That day we found a total of nine new investigators in just one day. How cool. And five of them with really great potential. We placed conditional baptism dates and everything. 

Santa Maria is so beautiful. I cant even describe how blessed I am to be here. Pictures cant even describe it...not even the half of it. But when you have the BEST you have something hard. Like you have to climb mt everest...its SO PRETTY...but to get up there....what a climb!!! Thats how it is here...and not just physically. Santa Maria has some struggles. Its a small branch. God trusts ME to do good things here. He trusts ME to build up God`s kingdom here and NOW! 

One day this week I realized I was miserable. How funny right?? I was writing in my journal and putting down some experiences, and some feelings...and bam. It hit me. Im miserable!!! Thats the word. ....but its a different kind of miserable. I think its how you guys must have felt sometimes...especially with me. You give ALL you have...and you have NO idea what else you can do. You do all you can...but there`s still not any results. WHAT A STINKER I WAS!!! But its also a comforting feeling, because you know God knows all. He KNOWS that you have given all you can...and he makes it better. So it was weird...cause even though I was "miserable," I wasnt. I was happy each night because I had given it my all...and I still am. I feel that every day. He knows me...and and knows each and every one of us...PERFECTLY. 

I do have to admit one thing....this week, for the first time in who knows how long, I MISSED YOU ALL AND HOME. Obviously theres always like a, oh, I miss and love my family, but this week I had this "moment" where it was like a pain. After a while God took it away, but it was there. But God blesses us as we forget ourselves in the work. And now Im all happy again...not wanting to come home ....still...for another 2 years haha. 

Since the major cleaning sesh, we havent had too many spider problems, and no more dog bites.
The suppossed earthquake??? NOTHING. Here in Chile it really wasnt anything. No joke. It happens a lot here in Chile. The other night...last week, before the big earthquake, there was a big one at like 1 in the morning...apparently. Cause I didnt even wake up. I am so used to them now. I just look and know it`ll stop soon. It happens often. 

We got locked in this week. First time thats happened to me in my mission. We were locked OUT of the house, and INSIDE the gate. So we cleaned the front patio and played with a lizard we found for like 2 hours ....GREAT right!? 

I have been praying a LOT, and fasting too, to have a baptism on my birthday...thats the best thing that I could ask for! ...and we dont have investigators coming to church, its been a "start from scratch" experience....and Im confused. I dont know if I have false hope...or what. ...I probably just dont have enough faith. Maybe THATS why I dont have lots of baptsims...but what am I going to do?? WORK. But its a trial....a lack of progressing investigators, losing investigators...
Yesterday for example, we went to visit one of our investigators with a baptismal date, and he said he wanted NOTHING to do with the church. Ive never had an experience like that... but he gave us no explanation and sent us on our way. We started on our way...and I turned around. I at least wanted to bare my testimony to him....we got there and he slammed the door. So I wrote a two sentance testimony, and wrote that we loved him. And that was it. Thats all I could do. Everyone can make their own decissions. Im learning a LOT about that this change. But I`m also learning about how those changes effect EVERYONE. Not just you. 

I thank God every day for everything he gives me and for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow...even in the "hard times!"....they`re like the best times really. Im not perfect...but Im DOING ALL I CAN to be like Christ. And thats what counts. The DOING part. 

I love you all!!! HURRAH FOR ISRAEL! 
Love, Hermana Alex Johnson

Shout out to Brother Bingham, Sister Grimnes, Sister Cole, Sister Webster, the Millard family, the Murray family, and Ell Bell Blue. I LOVE YOU ALL. Thanks for making my day! 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Just GO with it

Well, my mission here in Santa Maria is so different. Its a very important mission thats for sure...this branch has suffered...and needs LOTS of help. Not gonna lie. The sector needs help, the area binder and house needs help...its a whole lot of stuff we have going on here...but so far so good. Its hard. I`m not going to lie. But Im trucking along here. I am humbling myself a lot and trying to have a lot of CHARITY.
I was reading today in Luke about the woman who was brought to Jesus. I realized that know one judged her...because no one had the authority to do so. They had all sinned...but Christ, being perfect DID have the authority to judge her, and yet he didnt. I know its what we need to do as well. We have no right to judge anyone because we are all sinners. 
Santa Maria is probably the biggest sector in my joke. Its ginormous. We ride uphill on our bikes for about a half hour, at least, to get to one small PART of our sector. its HUGE. We have a lot of work to do...but we finally picked a section of our sector where we are gonna focus. Its gorgeous too. There are a ton of VINARDS. thats where we work. In the grape vines. no joke. Im gonna take more pictures this week so you can get a glimpse. 
I am studying the attributes about Charity and it is helping me to understand even more its importance. Faith...that can stop cause it can become knowledge. Hope too with stop because we`re going to ATTAIN what we`ve hoped for as we live righteously...but charity. NEVER. Charity never faileth, it never stops. Its how God works. EVERY DAY. I love that. So Im striving to have more and more every day....for all the people in the street, the branch, my companion...everything!! 
Of course I know the branch president! I met him the first day. Dont even worry. That was the first thing I did when I got we spent a little bit together with his wife and monday we`re gonna go fishing. From the bank of course. 
My companion is doing okay... She also has a very unique personality. She has some problems with health,  BUT she has great faith to have chosen to come on a mission. To work every day and I am greatful to be here in Santa Maria with her. I am learning all the same. Charity. 
Health is great. No problems. A dog bit my finger this week...but I didnt die so nothing big. 
We cleaned the house this week...and seriously NO ONE has cleaned this house in AT LEAST 6 months. We went and cleaned one of the rooms in our house...that isnt used...and we found AT LEAST 50 spiders. AND BIG ONES: like ..."I´ve never seen one so big!" and "Im TOTALLY GONNA DIE" spiders. It was horrible. And we have to clean more today too....we`ll see If I live. 
We had an earthquake. 5 point something....apparently. I didnt even realize it. Im already so used to little trembles here in Chile. But my companion about died. In the morning she told me she was freaking out ...and I didnt even open an eyeball lol. Wow. I really die when I sleep. 
I had divisions in ...SAN FELIPE! It was so weird to see my first mission house again...lots of changes. AND to be in that sector again. I gave the missionaries some references, and they were able to make some appointments with these people. It was cool. I knew where I was going...even after all this time! And lots of members recognized me all the same...even after a year. Each one recognized me for a seperate reputation and that was pretty funny. But it was a fun experience. 
We are teaching an investigator that has problems with drugs...he struggles a ton. He really wants to change...but at the same time its soooo hard for him. He`s been in a center before, and he just got back into it after he got out. But this week, ONE DAY,he read from the book of mormon..and UNDERSTOOD. And guess what, he didnt smoke or drink ...ANYTHING. Totally clean....coincidence?? I think not. But the next day he sank back´ll be hard for him. 
Yesterday I did everything in church. Played the piano, gave a talk, lead the music, taught a class....and I didnt like it. Of course I love helping and what not, but it was hard cause I felt like we need to get the MEMBERS to have callings so they can do it all!!! 
And we are finding a TON of new investigators...its different here in Santa Maria. Its easier to enter a home but harder to help people Quilicura, it was practically IMPOSSIBLE sometimes to enter a home. Here we just decide where and we get in every day, without exception. Its just different. 
But I am doing all I can to help here in this sector. I am doing all I can to complete my missionary purpose. Im DOING. Im not perfect, but I am DOING my best. (Im in the process of eliminating TRY from my vocabulary...)
I love you all.
Hermana Alex Johnson

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

First Week in Paradise

Well...FIRST WEEK IN SANTA MARIA. Seriously, I love it. Its so beautiful here...its like a dream come true. The mountains, the hills, the clouds...I can even see some snow sometimes!! ...far off, but still! 

So I dont have much time cause I have to do BYU planning (LLAAAMMMEE...nothing beats the mission), but this week has been great. Our sector has to be one of the biggest sectors in the whole mission...we ride A LOT on bikes…and we ride up MOUNTAINS. There are some sectors that are so far that it would take seriously all day to ride there on the bikes because its ALL UP HILL! BUT the good news is I am getting even MORE in shape! 
We worked in a far off zone, and a cute little 11 year old girl went to a lesson with us and shared her testimony. It was adorable. Idk if Ella and Pepper can help the missionaries out, but they SHOULD. I regret not doing it. SEND UM TO WORK IN THE LORDS VINARD!

Saturday was the greatest…even though it was a long day. We were able to hear from the director of the missionary department for the church. I will have to send you a copy of my notes because it was a 4 and a half hour conference...a LOT of awesomeness. He talked a lot about how many missionaries here are playing a song...but with only 1 note (or two with luck)....BAPTISM. but we are forgetting about the rest of our missionary purpose...CHRIST’S GOSPEL. I am not going to all this stuff was going on about BAPTISM; BAPTISM and BAAAPPPTTIIISSMM I was starting to feel like I needed to just find a bunch of people and baptism and hope that everything goes well for them in the future...but Elder Evans confirmed what I already knew...

1.  Whenever possible, look for and teach families (especially with a father) and young men who could serve missions so that they can strengthen the Church.  Favor teaching these over others, but not to the complete exclusion of all others. 
2.  Before baptizing a person, teach them the doctrine of repentance clearly and powerfully and ensure that they have fully repented of their sins before baptism.  
3.  Before baptizing a person, often try to have them read the Book of Mormon beginning with the Introduction to the book and reading the pages in order afterwards.  
4.   Do not baptize a person who does not meet the requirements of Preach My Gospel chapter 12 or who is likely to quickly fall away.  District class this week will focus on this subject by reviewing the requirements for baptism.

5. After baptism and confirmation, continue to help every new convert to fully receive the Holy Ghost, do family history work, and make it to the temple.

What a blessing right?? He kind of...bashed a couple missionaries....and I felt strongly that I had to change and improve in a LOT of things as well. And the people that I have helped come BACK into the fold...that is just as important as bringing someone new. He is a special witness of Christ and when he testified of him I felt such a POUND in my was astounding. 

Well anyways… Sunday I went to my little branch. It was super cute. there were 35 people and the president of the branch didnt come, but thats okay. I`m going to have to do a LOT of work for the branch. 
As for my companion...shes pretty great. ...she was inactive for a really long time....till right before her mission so I feel like she is still adjusting to being a member....AND a missionary too! ...the branch, my companion, and the sector ...well is gonna be fun. Its gonna be harder than training. But I am learning lots about LOVE. and Charity. And its been helping lots. 

SANTA MARIA is great and I love you all!!! 
Thanks for all your prayers. 
Love, Hermana Alex Johnson

Not sure how these Hermanas got matching outfits... but they are darling. (Hermana Johnson and Hermana Clark)

At the last activity in Quilicura with loved members

She's going to miss these guys!

An investigator

Saying goodbye to the Quilicura building

Some sweet Haitian Children Alex was teaching

She loved meeting up with Hermana Ceccon during the mission conference with David F. Evans

I love it when we can see her tag!

Hermana Clark was there too!