Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas on Tarawa


 
 
Elder Johnson and Elder Kennedy showing off
 their musical Christmas ties we sent to them. 
Elder Carrington making fun of them
 
 
We had a great experience talking with Elder Johnson on Christmas day.  He called us from one of the Senior Missionary's laptops that lives in the Moroni High School campus on Tarawa.  We were able to record the entire call, but it is much too big to post on this site.  Here are some of the details from that call.
 
Physical and Emotional Health
 
Elder Johnson is healthy and happy.  With the exception of a few minor cuts that got infected and some issues with his digestion, he is good.  There have been a few times where he was served under-cooked chicken that have made him sick for a couple days, but he has bounced back pretty quickly from that.
 
Jeff's spirits were pretty high.  There has been a few storms roll in lately that make riding their bikes nearly impossible.  Also when it rains, no one wants to listen to the lessons.  Those are the times that he has been getting the most frustrated and starts to feel down.  Other than that, he and his companions have been very busy and are working hard keeping up with all of their investigators.
 
We asked Jeff what he and his companion did to keep their spirits up when the rain or other things got them down.  He said that they do a lot of singing, and a lot more praying. 
 
Elder Johnson's Christmas Experiences
 
Christmas Breakfast- Pancakes with Nutella and Sausage.  With Elders Kennedy and Kaakau
Jeff made his companions breakfast Christmas morning.  He cooked up some thick pancakes and fries some sausage.  He made enough pancakes that they shared them with their neighbors.  He says they turned out pretty good.

Jeff admitted that he opened up his camera we sent him for Christmas the day he got his package, but saved the other items for Christmas morning.  The camera is already being put to good use since his old one was dropped in the ocean.  The new camera is waterproof and dirt proof.  (Hopefully he won't take that as a challenge!)

Later that day they went to a party with their landlord.  Elder Johnson said that it was a blast.  The music was a little goofy, so Jeff said he had to dance goofy.  Sadly all the camera batteries were dead by that time!

Elder Johnson is in the Tarawa East zone, and they got together with the West zone and played capture the flag.  Then they watched the movie Freetown. 



The day after Christmas Elder Johnson was able to Skype us at home.  They are 17 hours ahead of us on Kiribati, so it was Christmas day in Utah.  After the call home, the missionaries were going to have a big party all day at the Moroni High School. 

Elder Johnson mentioned that this Christmas he was able to focus more on the real meaning of the season.  The birth of our Savior.  It was an amazing experience to celebrate with the incredible people on Tarawa.

Mission President

Elder Johnson really looks up to the mission president, President Weir.  President Weir traveled to Tarawa this past week, so Elder Johnson was able to meet with him a couple times.  Jeff learned that President Weir has a military background and previously worked with black ops.  He related a story that President Weir once met witht a king of a foreign nation and helped him to reorganize his military using napkins to write down the details.  Elder Johnson has a lot of respect for President Weir.

Companions

Elder Johnson loves his companions.  He is currently working in a threesome with Elder Kennedy and Elder Kaakau. 

Elder Kennedy came to Kiribati in the group of missionaries right before Elder Johnson's group, about a month or so earlier.  So they are both still pretty green.  Elder Johnson loves Elder Kennedy and says he is a funny guy.  He has a pretty good sense of humor which helps when things get rough

Elder Kaakau is from Kiribati.  He is waiting to come to the US for his mission in New Mexico.  He will be with Elders Johnson and Kennedy until January 12.  It has been good to have Elder Kaakau with them since it has helped them with the language.  Jeff says it is hard to understand him from time to time, but he loves Elder Kaakau and is enjoying working with him.

These elders have been pretty busy lately, teaching about 40-50 lessons per week.  They have gone on a lot of splits with members of the ward.  The only thing that slows them down right now is the weather from time to time.

Elder Johnson mentioned that transfers will be anounced this week, he is hoping to stay with his current area because he loves the people he is working with.  But he said where ever he is sent, he knows that is where he is supposed to be.  We will find out next week if he or his companions are getting transferred.

Food

Elder Johnson has been loving the food on Tarawa, with the exception of the undercooked chicken!  His diet consists mostly of chicken, fish, breakfast crackers and rice.  He has tried Octopus and loved it. 

His little brother wanted to know if he has eaten dog yet, and he has not, but probably only a matter of time.  Our vegetarian daughter said, "Oh! Poor Fluffy!", Jeff responded, they don't name their dogs on Kiribati, except maybe "Dinner".

P-Day Activities

On their preparation day each Monday the first thing they do is race down to the computers.  There are only 4 computers and they race the other missionaries in the area to be the first ones to write home.  They would then go buy a drink or treat called "Thick Shakes", we didn't get the details on what those are. 

Then they would go home to rest and clean the apartment.  (Not sure if he said that just for his mom's sake!)  Then they are off to Moroni High School to play ultimate frisbee, basketball or whatever with the East Zone.  Once a month they combine with the West Zone to play games as well.  Then it is back home and back to work.

 
Great Christmas
 
For Amber and I and the kids, this was a great Christmas treat to be able to talk with Jeff.  It was our best Christmas present of the year. We know that Jeff is safe, that he is being watched over.  He is healthy and getting into the work.  It was an incredible thing to see a man on the screen, when he left us still a boy.  Definitely a mom and dad payday!
 
Our heart goes out to the other missionary moms and dads that have missionaries on the outer islands of Kiribati that did not get a chance to talk to them on Christmas.  Our prayers are with them and their missionaries.
 
We wanted to include a clip of Jeff bearing his testimony in the Kiribati language.  The quality of the video is not the greatest since I had to reformat it to be small enough to load. 
 
 
 
 
video

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Wishes from Elder Johnson

Hello Everyone!

This week, I am not going to lie, was really rough! 
We have so many investigators that it is really hard to teach them all. It is crazy how prepared so many of these people are! They just want to hear the gospel.

On Thursday we got a Kiribati companion named Elder Kaakau, he is waiting to go to the MTC on January 12. He is going to serve in New Mexico. 

There were a couple of days this week where it rained all day, and not just rained, poured!!! It was really difficult because it makes the road really terrible to ride your bikes on  and absolutely no one is A) home or B)wants to listen.  This put us pretty behind on our lessons so we got to split with some YSA a couple of times this last week. In one of our lessons we taught this kid Moote, whose name in English is Moses.  He is 26 and he told us that he received a dream that he was the prophet. It was kind of scary, because his dream was exactly things that have happened through the restoration, just through false visions.  We went on to teach prophets and restoration and it was one of the most powerful restorations lessons I have been a part of.  We asked him to pray about it and he told us "I absolutely cannot do that."

This goes to show how the Savior's words in this last day are being fulfilled, In the last days there will rise false prophets.  I went back yesterday and as soon as Elder Kaakau and I sat down, we both felt we should leave right away.  So we did.  It was crazy!!!

The rest of our investigators are really solid,  they are keeping commitments and we are really seeing a change in their lives.  The work is hard but I see the Lord's help as we push forward! 
Wednesday night we had a birthday party/Christmas party for Elder Pulufauna and The Moroni YSA.  They made us sing a song and they had cake and ice cream.  I literally had so much, but I got super sick the next day because they didn't cook the chicken all the way...

Thursday, for service, we cleaned a well.  It was really nasty, and it kept filling really fast since it was high tide.  We had to take out bucket after bucket of water and scrape this green goo off the wall.  It was tough work but really cool!  Every time we do service, without fail, the family feeds us!  This was really difficult since I was sick from the chicken the night before and the food they gave us was soo good. 

The one thing that happened this week is my testimony grew about fasting.  I fasted 2 times this week and Yesterday I even fasted for a full 24 hours, and I have already seen the blessings that have come from that.  I know that if we have a trouble with anything and we fast the Lord will be quick to give it to us.  When we fast we show we want his help because we are giving up something that we need to receive help.  I know that it works.  I love this gospel!

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!
I love you all!!! Remember that this season is about celebrating the Birth of our brother, savior and redeemer.   And he is Literally THE greatest gift this world has ever had!

I love you all!
Love Elder Johnson



Dad!
Merry Christmas!!!
That is crazy that you have been a primary teacher for so long!  Time goes by way too fast sometimes! I know it has been here, it kind of freaks me out!!  I love those kids so much! Tell them hi for me and Merry Christmas!! Its amazing how at times we don't think that people are listening to our lessons and we quiz them on it they amaze us with how much they remember!  I have learned that so many times while being here.  At times it seems like our investigators don't listen but as long as the spirit is present, everything is able to sink in!

I am super excited to skype! I get to skype the day after Christmas here so it is Christmas for you guys.   I am super pumped!

I am definitely enjoying those things I was able to open now, especially the food!  It is the best! I already gave out all of my toys and I am constantly swarmed by hundreds of kids asking for toys! hahah Everyone Loves the magic too not just the little kids they think it is the craziest thing they have ever seen in their lives!

I love this season, and I love that I am able to focus on other things than the gifts and lights an holiday stuff.  I get to focus on serving others and help them come to know of the greatest gift the world has ever had!

This week is normal up until Friday and SaturdayFriday we get to spend all day at Moroni with the missionaries and the Senior couples are cooking us food for lunch.  We get to play games, have white elephant gift exchange, and maybe get to watch a Disney movie!!! whaaaaaat!!!?????  Christmas night we are spending it at a member's house (I might eat dog..........)  The day after is our skype time and then the ward Christmas party all day,  we are inviting our investigators I am super pumped, there will be dancing, music and food!!

I love you so much!  remember to take time to remember the true meaning of Christmas this Christmas season!

Love your son
Elder Johnson


Mom!!!! Merry Christmas in just a little bit!!
First I want to tell you that I get to email the day after Christmas here so it is Christmas there!  I am so excited!  I love you!

Mom, I am so proud of you for reading the book of Mormon.  That book has power, but I don't need to tell you that! You are already seeing the blessings that come from reading the book everyday! By reading the book you are showing our Heavenly Father that you appreciate his words and that you want to apply his teachings, and by doing so he will bless your life beyond anything you can possibly imagine!!

Just by doing a simple thing like reading in the Book of Mormon everyday led you to helping someone who needed your testimony.  Imagine what the Lord would do with you if you pushed yourself a little harder to follow more of his words.  I know that there is God's power in the Book of Mormon.  I have a strong testimony that the Book of Mormon was given to us so that we can be strengthened, so we can receive answers to questions and help other people in our lives. 

By the way, thank you so much for sending those magic tricks and toys for the kids! Everybody loves them!  Yesterday we got to teach the young men in church and we talked about Jesus' birth.  I tied in the atonement and I used the box that makes things disappear as  an object lesson for the atonement.  They thought it was super cool! 

I love you mom,
Love your son,
Elder Johnson

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Puppets, Octopus and Persistence

Elder Johnson handing out toys sent in his Christmas Package
Dad,
I am so glad that my letter made it before Christmas, I was a little worried!  haha But it is a relief to know that it made it there.  

I actually got my package last week!!  haha The stuff that I was able to open now is super amazing, you guys went above and beyond what you needed to do.  

I love Josh soo much, he truly is one of my best friends.  I know that he is going to do great things.  I have felt really strongly lately though that he should get his patriarchal blessing.  I know that will give him the drive to keep going.  

I am certain that the Lord is constantly knocking on everyone's door.  All we have to do is let him in.  Sometimes it can be hard, especially when Satan is in our ears telling us that we can't do certain things.  He wants us to think that we aren't worthy or we aren't good enough.  But the Lord is right there, even in the thick of it.  Sometimes, we may not know why we are prompted to do a certain thing.  At times, we may not even see the results of it until after the veil.  All we have to do is press forward in faith, trusting that the Lord has a hand in all things. 

One thing that I have learned being here the short time that I have, is you can always tune out Satan's words by occupying the stage in your mind with something good.  One thing that I like to do is to constantly have a hymn in my head.  It gives me the strength to keep going even when it is tough.  One other thing that really helps is praying more for thanks.  When we thank the Lord for what we have, our eyes are opened to how blessed we are.  I challenge you, when you pray to pray mostly for thanks, and try to limit how much you ask for.  I promise that if you do this you will see all the blessings the Lord is giving you and you will begin to recognize those tender mercies.  

Answers

- Tell us about your companion.  What is he like?  What is his background?  Did he do any sports or other activities in High School?  Have you been getting along with him?  Tell us a lot about him.

1:  My companion, Elder Kennedy is awesome.  He is super funny, and a really hard worker.  His faith is sooo strong.  He prays for trials and he doesn't let anything stop him from doing the work.   He played soccer in high school, and he was just like a super off the wall kid.  I love him, I already feel like he is one of my closest friends.  It has been hard at times, since I get in my head that "he is new and he can't teach me a lot"  but I know that he has a ton to teach me.  We spend a lot of time talking deep doctrine, pretty much any free time that we get.  I love it!  The stuff he says is super random, and funny, but that's what makes him him.  

Elders Johnson and Kennedy

- Tell us about what a typical day looks like to you.  As much detail as you can give us.  What time do you get up?  What time do you study?  How are you finding investigators? 


2) We start off the day waking up at 5:30 so we can get in as much study as we can.  We say our prayers (fifteen minutes) and then we work out. We work out for a half hour, but it doesn't really do a ton because the most we can really do is push ups and sit ups.  Next we have 45 minutes to shower with the bucket and a cup, get dressed and eat food.  Studies start at seven.  We have an hour and a half of personal, an hour of companion, hour and a half of language, then an hour of 12 week.  We start each study with a prayer, and we start companion study with a hymn.  After study we are out the door no later that 12:10.  We have our lessons set up from closest to furthest so it works better with the time.  It's go go go, no time for a lot of rest, but we stop at the stores a lot to buy packets of drinks called aiti (ice).  Lessons usually go for 45 minutes.  It gets dark around 6:30-7 so we have dinner at 7.  Most people don't have lights so they don't really like to have lessons at night.  Last night for dinner we had octopus!!!!  It was actually really good!

  

- What is the funniest thing that has happened to you out there? 

3)  The funniest thing so far is we were sitting in a lesson and I kind of spaced out.  (This was a couple weeks ago when I was with Elder Vula and Elder Powell)  They asked me to open with prayer, but I thought I was supposed to introduce my self so instead of praying I said, "Kam n bening ni Mauri!!!" Everyone was freaked out.  I looked at Vula and Powell and noticed that they were looking up from bowing their heads and folding their arms, but it was too late.... I had already done the whole introduction!!!

- How is the food treating you?  Are your cooking skills getting better?  Do you need more recipes?  If so, give me more ingredients you have access to and I will get you some things.


4) Food is going good, I am getting better.  I just have to experiment is all, I will send you a list of food they have next week.  

- Do you have interactions with any other missionaries on Tarawa?  What are their names and what do you think about them?

5) Every Monday we get to see all the missionaries in the East Zone, in the email place.  Then later we combine at Moroni.  Then once a month we combine with the West Zone.  It's way cool!!  But there are so many of them that I can't remember their names,  I have always been bad at names. But I can remember a face for ages!!

- How are your investigators?  Is your pool of them growing?  Any of them closer to baptism?  Give us details of names and ages and things like that.

6) Our investigators are solid.  We are sooo close with a lot of them, we just have to get them married!!  One of my favorite couples it Takinoa and Kueita,  They are sooo solid,  they took our challenge to fast and they fasted that Takinoa would receive strength to quit smoking and he didn't smoke for 3 days!!!! Kueita shares her testimony every time and they are super powerful!!  Then we sing a song every time before we leave! 

Another house is a couple of teenage boys about my age, Ruata, and Tekangae.  They eat our lessons up!! They are super into the lessons, and have so many questions! Yesterday we gave them Books of Mormon and they were soo pumped.  I also showed them my magic tricks and they flipped out and kept bringing more and more people to show them.  It is cool also because they tell their friends about our lessons so we have gotten a ton of referrals.  

- The one I want to know most of all, how is your standing with the Lord?  Tell me your testimony.  It brings me incredible joy to know the changes He is bringing into your life.

7) My standing with the Lord is solid.  I know that he is watching out for me, and putting us where we need to be.  An example of this happened last week.  We were running a little late, about a half hour or so.  We had our first lesson and were on our way to our next one when we got stopped because a girl was having a seizure.  If we weren't late we wouldn't have been there.  It was really scary, because they were pinning her down which you aren't supposed to do. But we got her in the ambulance and my lifeguard skills kicked in.  I am so thankful that the Lord gave me the opportunity to learn those skills, and put us in the right place at the right time.  I am recognizing more and more his influence and spirit in all I do.  

I love you I don't have time to do my week since this one was so long but I hope it is good.

Love your son,
Elder Johnson

Elder Powel, Sister Baldwin and Elder Johnson

Dear mom,
I love you so much!! 

I am definitely feeling tons better.  It has been rough, because we have been doing so much, but I know that the Lord is right there with me the entire time.  

It has been cool because this last week we have taught a lot about the Book of Mormon.  It is just amazing to me the kind of power that it really has.  And do you know why it has that kind of power?  Because it was translated directly from the power of God.  The book literally contains the fullness of the restored gospel.  The Book of Mormon is literally the keystone of our religion, if it is true, then Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church, and we can be happy no matter what situation we go through in this life.  

3 Month Mark- Celebrating with Fried Chicken. 
Elders Johnson, Kennedy, Vula and Powell

I remember one lesson I had in seminary, when all the church leaders in the boundaries of Cyprus came and answered a bunch of questions that we prepared earlier.  One thing that one of the Bishops said really stuck out to me.  The  question was,  "How do I resist temptation?"  His answer really stuck out to me.  A chapter a day keeps the devil away! It is so true, when we are doing exactly what we can to study the words of God we are blessed with strength to overcome all things.  

I love that you are reading the scriptures everyday.  I love that you are already seeing the blessings from it.  But now I challenge you to take it a step further, and study with a question in mind.  It might take a lot longer, but the blessings are even greater.  

Remember that you are worthy of a temple recommend, and that every time that you feel like you shouldn't go to the temple, that is when you need to go the most.  

I love you so much and I will continue to pray about you!

Love your son, 
Elder Johnson 


Monday, December 7, 2015

Hard Work and Big Blessings

Sadly, Elder Johnson was not able to send pictures this week.  There is a virus on the computer on Tarawa that could delete any files plugged in.  If he is able to send pictures later, we will update this page.

This week has been really crazy!! It has flown by soooo fast, mainly because we have stayed soo busy.

This week we have done a lot of tracting and have found 16 new investigators, many of whom are really solid.  They ask really good questions, and seem to be very interested in our teachings.  I love it here!  It has been tough because Elder Kennedy wants to sacrifice things like lunch and part of dinner.  I love his intentions, buuut I gotta eat! 

It has been nice having Elder Aboki with us, who is an elder from Kiribati waiting for his visa to serve in Washington.  He has been able to help us when we can't understand the language.  But last Thursday he got moved to Betio so it is just me and Elder Kennedy now. I cannot believe I have worked with him for a week now!  He has taught me so much even though he has been here a little bit longer than I have.  

We have had to hike a lot because most of our new investigators are in places were there is too much water or mud to get our bikes through.  The work is hard, but I really appreciate the time here.  It has been difficult, but I know that I cannot grow without trials.  

This last week my own testimony has strengthened so much about prophets.  We have had a lot of lessons on prophets and every time we talk about/ pray in our lessons about Thomas S. Monson I feel the spirit. I know that he is a true prophet of god.  

Yesterday was fast Sunday, I fasted for help with the language, our investigators, and my family.  I am already seeing the blessings coming from that. The Lord has helped with my language so much this last week it is amazing.   All I have to do is keep working hard and continue to trust in the Lord.  I love the power that comes from doing what we are commanded to do.  They are all for our benefit.  If we follow the commandments the best we can, the Lord will bless us! 

That's it for now, I love you all!

Love Elder Johnson

Letters to Mom and Dad

Dad, 

I know how tiring, stressful, and hectic traveling can be, but I have never told you how much I have appreciated that you do it.  Thank you so much for getting a job that can provide for the family.  You work so hard and I know that it is because you love us, you aren't thinking about what you can get out of working but what you can give to help the family.  I love you so much for that, thank you.  

The Lord has a hand in all things.  He puts people in our paths for a reason.  If we truly try to listen the Lord will guide us.  He will teach us what to do and what to say.  It is important to tune out the world as much as we can, tune out the distractions, and tune into the quiet voice of the spirit.  

Excerpt from my letter to Jeff for context:

I recently changed the screen saver on the computer at home.  It now flips through random pictures and videos that are loaded on the computer.  I then loaded all of the digital pictures we have been storing since you guys were tiny.  It has become a pretty cool thing to have in the kitchen.  There are times the family will sit and watch them flip through.

A video just came up of one of the hundreds of swim meets I went with for you.  You were young, maybe the second or third year swimming at a Skyline meet.  It was definitely one of your earlier meets.  Your arms were wide, you wandered the lane back and forth and water was splashing everywhere.  I love you, but you looked like a wounded dog in the water! 

The screen saver moved on through a couple more pictures and then by chance, (or maybe not by chance) it showed a video of you swimming the IM at one of your last big meets at Kearns.  It was beautiful.  Your swim stroke was precise, your lines and technicality were spot on.  Every detail of your stroke and your turns was calculated from muscle memory of the countless hours you spent in the pool.  The corrections from your coaches, your attention to other swimmers, your dedication to something that was so important to you paid off.  You no longer looked like the wounded puppy, but the master swimmer.

I always loved when you got out of the pool, the first thing you would do would be to go to your coach.  You would listen carefully to any suggestions and guidance.  Then right afterwards you would come to me to tell me what your coach said and how you did compared to your old times.  It made me very proud how you would internalize the counsel your couch gave you and almost instantly make necessary changes.

I don't relate those stories to you to make you miss swimming.  But looking at both videos I had a distinct prompting.  At the beginning of your mission it is like you in the first video.  You are working it out.  It feels awkward and uncoordinated at times, it is hard work.  I know you are leaning on the Lord.  That your are reaching out to that perfect coach to help you make small corrections in your missionary life.  Through listening to the promptings from going to Him in prayer.  From watching for the tender mercies He gives you.  And from learning from the companions that you have been assigned to labor with, you will continue to grow and improve

Your story about my swim opened my eyes.  I have been frustrated because I know that the Lord has blessed me with the ability to teach well, but I can't do that yet because I can't speak... but I know that all great things take time, hard work and dedication.  As I am studying I have to learn how to teach the most simple way that I can, then I can start throwing in my own flare.  It's hard cause I want to be able to do it now, but it is teaching me to be patient, and it is teaching me to be humble.

Yesterday I did a weird thing, I thanked the Lord for my trial, and I even asked him to send me more so that I could learn and grow from them.  I want the lord to mold me into my potential, and I want to be who the Lord wants me to be, and the only way I can do that is through trials.  

I love you dad, Stay strong, and keep doing those things that you know are right.  

Love your Son,
Elder Johnson

Mom,

That is really exciting to hear that the Christmas box has made it. Maybe I will get it when I get to Moroni today.  I will let my companion know about going through the box and all that fun stuff.  I am really excited!  I'm super disappointed though cause I can't send pictures, I just don't even want to risk having them deleted.  What I will do is get a flash drive, copy the pictures on to it and send the flash drive home.  

I am glad that you found the incentive to read  the Book of Mormon.  I have a very strong testimony that there is great power that comes from that book, because it is truly the book of God.  That book has the power to help us overcome all of our worldly trials, all of our questions, and it has the power to help us overcome temptation.  I remember back home, when I would really read every day, I wouldn't have any troubles with my trials.  I could feel God's love. I know that as you really put forth the effort you can receive the same strength. I love you so much!  The Book of Mormon truly is the word of God.  

I have definitely developed a closer love for that book the short time that I have been here.  I have been able to feel the whisperings of the spirit, as it teaches me what I need to know.  I know the power that book brings.  Sometimes we take it for granted.  As a side note, do you remember the Book of Mormon reading trackers you gave us?? I am about done! I am in Mormon right now, I am really excited to fill that tracker!

I know that right now it is hard at times, but I know the lord is watching over me and he is watching over you and the rest of the family.  I love this work, and this last week has been sooo busy, I love it, I haven't had time to even think about missing home as much.  I do, but I know that I have work to do, I need this time to prepare for those that I promised I would teach in the life before this. 

I loved your song by the way! 

Mom I love you so much! Stay strong and know that I love you with all of my heart and that I pray about you every day.  

Love your Son,
Elder Johnson  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving in Kiribati






Elders Aboki, Kennedy, and Johnson visiting Takinoa and Kueita




This week has been crazy busy!

Monday we celebrated "Thanksgiving" with pancakes, eggs, spam, and juice! We all ate together as a district it was awesome!! 



The rest of the week was spent splitting our time between Temwaiku 1 and Temwaiku 2, since my companion didn't come until last Friday.  We didn't teach much because the areas are super big, but the people we did teach were really solid!! 

Not much to tell for the week other than it was super busy and hot.  The days go by soo fast because we stay busy all day, which is a blessing and a curse. I am still improving on the language, and have even been able to answer questions during lessons with the help of the spirit.  The days have been blurs, I love this work. 

Thursday was service, we got to dig a hole for a member for a well.  I felt like I was in the movie Holes cause it was super hot, and there were a ton of lizards that were down there with me!! haha  I cut my hand because there was glass down there when I was grabbing a huge log!  It is all healed up now!!

Friday My companion showed up, his name is Elder Kennedy. I also found out that Elder Aboki would work with us until he gets his visa for the U.S. He is serving in Washington!!
This has been good because he doesn't speak very much English, so it forces us to speak more Kiribati! We try to teach him English and he tries to teach us Kiribati! haha It's hard but I have already learned so much!

We have tracted a ton these last few days and have found a ton of new investigators!!  The area is booming!  There are so many places we haven't gone and there are a ton of people we can teach.  The Lord has definitely prepared so many people to hear his message!!  I love this work, not going to lie it is rough and really taxing but the work is worth it!  I am so glad that the Lord has trusted me with so great of a work!
 
Saturday we had a baptism, the power has been out in Temwaiku since they are working on the roads, so I got to do the Baptism in the Ocean!!  It was So cool!!  Except Elder Kennedy dropped my camera in the Ocean and it completely died! Sooooo...  hahah its alright he said I could use his camera every once and a while!!




 
Sunday we had 2 really good lessons, one about the true meaning of Christmas, and the other holding on to your faith.  They both really helped me a ton!!!  I didn't understand it all but the spirit taught me what I needed to hear.  As long as we listen the lord will help us.


Super good week!! 

I love you all and I am Praying about you!

Love Elder Johnson

Sunset on Tarawa

Elder Johnson getting a Haircut


Dad,


I'm glad everything is going well at home, its been tough I've been thinking about you guys a lot.  It makes me feel down sometimes, but then I try to get lost in the work.  It's been good with my new companions, yep I'm in a threesome! We have worked hard, have lessons all day and tract a lot!!


I am going to focus so much on the true meaning of Christmas this year. Jesus Christ is literally the greatest gift the world has ever had and will have.  I have a strong testimony that as I focus on the true meaning and keep working hard it will all be okay.  *I love you guys soooo much!!


I am going to learn so much from these people, I know it! I already have, I know that I can be happy with so little! The people from Kiribati have so little, and they give sooo much!


One thing that I forgot to tell you last week, last Sunday was their primary program in the branch.  All the little kids gave little talks, and they only sang one song! Guess what song??? An article of faith song XD it made me laugh because I know how much you love that song!!  (I am a primary teacher, Elder Johnson was my teaching partner before he left for his mission.  I cannot stand the Article of Faith songs, they drive me nuts!)


I have a 2 new companions, one Elder Rodger Kennedy from Indiana, and then an Elder that is waiting for his visa from Kiribati. He is going to serve in Washington!  It has been really good because it has been forcing us to speak more,  we are also trying to teach him a little English.


I asked Elder Johnson a few questions in my letter to him this week.  Here are the questions with his responses:


What has been the most spiritual experience you have had so far?


The most spiritual experience has got to be my lesson yesterday,  They talked about Elder Openshaw, who is the AP, who had his parents, and one sibling die in a plane crash while he was serving.  He found a letter from his mom the day he found out about the accident saying "we pray that you remember that who you are".  He stayed out on his mission even though he has two little brothers who are alone.  He put God first, he knows the plan.  I learned that if he can have enough faith to keep pushing forward, so can I.


What has been the scariest experience so far?


The scariest, there really hasn't been, probably the fact that I have warts on my feet still and I don't want them to get infected, that and knowing the computers have viruses and they could delete all my pictures!!


How is the food treating you?


The food is still really good, I am learning to cook more, the other night I cooked some really good chicken and rice flavored with tomato soup!


What is your branch like?  (A branch is a small congregation of members of the church.)


The branch is amazing!! There are a good 60 plus people who attend and we roughly get four to six investigators attending each week.  Sometimes it starts on time other times it doesn't.  The leaders are good.  The branch president, Taubure has a lot on his plate because his counselor's  are at work, but we are working to strengthen the branch!


How are your investigators doing?


My investigators are amazing we had a baptism last week and I got to perform it in the ocean!! it was sooo sweet, we found a lot more investigators over the last three days just tracting, it has been super amazing/hard.


I love you dad,
Love Elder Johnson


Thanksgiving Dinner




Mom,


Last week we had eggs, pancakes, hash browns and spam in celebration for thanksgiving it was super amazing!!! I want to let you know that you and the family are what I am the most thankful for during this Thanksgiving season!! I love you so much!!!

Mom, your email helped me so so much, this week has been kind of a struggle because I have a hard time knowing if I am really doing the right thing because I can't speak this language.  But I know that by working hard and continually praying it will all work out in my favor.  I have been striving to be more thankful in my prayers, and let me tell you it feels a lot better than just asking for things. It really opens your eyes to all those things that you do have and all that the Lord has blessed us with.  

I know that I have to try first and that I have to give it my absolute best and then the Lord will qualify me.  

I am trying to work so hard, but there are things that make it so difficult, the language, homesickness, and knowing I have to be here for two years, but yesterday we had a lesson. They talked about Elder Openshaw, who is the AP, who had his parents, and one sibling die in a plane crash while he was serving.  He found a letter from his mom the day he found out about the accident saying "we pray that you remember who you are"  He stayed out on his mission even though he has two little brothers who are alone.  He put God first, he knows the plan.  I learned that if he can have enough faith to keep pushing forward, so can I.  \

I love you mom with all my heart, 
Love your son, 
Elder Johnson.

 P.S Elder Kennedy dropped my camera in the ocean and it mate, (died) and I can't send pictures because there are viruses on the computers that will delete all the pictures on the SD card, so if you guys could send a hard drive Ill back them up then when my SD card is full I'll send it home.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Elder Seguine, and Hello to New Experiences



Saying Goodbye to Elder Seguine

This week was crazy!!!
Monday after Email, the Zone got to go to Betio and get on the Giant guns and just take pictures and have fun together.  I got some pretty great pictures! 
Zone Activity at Betio
We then combined with the other zone to play volleyball and basketball, I played with a bunch of kids who were there, I showed them a couple of tricks I learned from water polo with the basket ball and they loved it!!

This week we didn't get to teach as much as I wanted to because Elder Seguine left, and I got paired with the other missionaries in Temwaiku, so we had to split our time half in my area, half in theirs. 


On Tuesday we did some service and I trimmed tree limbs with a machete, it was super cool.

Our investigators are doing really well, Takinoa has said that he wants to give up smoking, and we had a very powerful lesson about receiving the strength that you need to over come all things.  Our other couples we are teaching are pretty good, we are just trying to work on getting them to church.  We have two baptisms for this week, I am super excited!
I also found out that new companion is from the intake right before mine, so that will be a good learning experience!! I am really nervous and super excited.
His name is Elder Kennedy and he is SO funny, I know that we will get a long just fine!
I love you all!
Love


--
Elder Johnson

Chapel on Tarawa
Playing Basketball with the Kids

Food at a Birthday Celebration
Dear mom!!!
Happy thanksgiving week!!! I am super excited, today the missionaries in our zone are going to cook a bunch of food in celebration, I am excited for it.  I am very thankful for you and your willingness to let me go on this crazy adventure! I love you so much and you have given me more than I can ever repay you for!
I have been so much better since I prayed and Elder Seguine gave me that talk.  The atonement is a real thing!!  I love that we have a bigger brother that would do that for us.  Elder Seguine left last Thursday so I am in a threesome again with Elder Powell and Elder Vula until this Thursday where my new companion is Elder Kennedy, who is new also!!! So that is kind of freaky, he got here only six weeks before me, so I will be needing the help of the Lord soo much!
I also sent a letter for Christmas, but eveyone keeps telling me it won't get there for a few months soooo open it when you get it!! I also sent a Birthday card for Ana today so when she gets it let me know! 
I will definitely ask my companion to go through it first! (We sent Jeff's Christmas package, but had to list everything on the customs form) haha I don't want to ruin the surprise! XD
I know the work is hard, but I know that I am on the Lords errand and he will help me!  Thank you for the scripture it helped me a ton! (Amber sent the following scripture:  In Deuteronomy 31:6 it promises...  "Be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid he it is that doth go with thee: he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. He is always with you and will bless and protect you.")  It is exactly what I needed to hear.  Keep listening to that spirit and the lord will continue to bless you!
I love you mom more that you can ever know! Stay strong and know I am doing just fine!!
Love your son,
Elder Johnson
Dad, 

 I wrote that talk down so I can hopefully print it off later at Moroni! That is perfect the Lord works in amazing ways!  (This is a talk I mentioned to Jeff in my email to him this week:  "Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ." by Dallin H Oaks, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/10/strengthened-by-the-atonement-of-jesus-christ?lang=eng&cid=email-shared )
I have already felt a million times better since I have prayed, and got lost in the work.  I know that the Lord has yoked him to me, and I will continue to pluck along retaining my faith in him. 

 
My investigators are awesome, One couple is doing really good, and he even said he was willing to give up smoking, the Lord has definitely had an influence in their life.  Another couple has good questions, and seem to learn a lot, but they just haven't come to church.  I am worried some are just answering in a way to make us happy, which is disappointing because they can't receive a fullness of blessings until they are fully committed to the Lord. 

 
Elder Seguine left last Thursday, as of right now I am with Elder Powell and Elder Vula until this Thursday when the actual transfers happen.  My companion is Elder Kennedy, we are staying in Temwaiku. He was in the intake right before mine, so he is just barely a head of me.  It will be really hard, but know this is what the Lord wants and there is something that he wants us to learn in this challenging experience.

The only health problem I have is I haven't been able to go to the bathroom in a long time, I got a blessing and I am going to get some medicine today.  I know I will be fine because of the blessing from President Gifford. 

I will take more pictures this week of everything so I can send them and have them for later.  I love you dad, Love your son,Elder Johnson

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Elder Johnson Performs His First Baptism!

Letter to Everyone:
 
This week FLEW by!! We stayed super busy, a total of 26 lessons, a little slow but pretty awesome.  There wasn't a day where it didn't absolutely pour rain.  Our lessons are getting more and more interesting, the spirit is opening my ears more and more and I am beginning to understand the lessons more, not the conversations quite yet, but the lessons.  We have eight investigators with baptismal dates and a ton of less active lessons.  Two couples that we are teaching we are in the process of getting them married to prepare them for baptism. 
This week I had a rough time with homesickness, just worries, but with the Lord's help, and with the strengthening power of the Atonement, I know that I have great things in store.  I am starting to feel more adjusted to my life and becoming my crazy self.  I constantly joke, dance around and say ridiculous things!!

Thursday, was service day.  We got to cut dead leaves off of the banana trees with a knife tied to a stick.  It was super fun.  I got laughed at a lot because I was super bad at it when I started.  But I got the hang of it! During the service an ant dropped on my face and bit me under the eye!  haha We get fed sooooo much, members constantly call us over while we are out and about and feed us.  A lot of fish, both cooked and raw, and rice.  The raw fish is my favorite.  It is lightly cooked in lemon juice and is put in coconut cream!
 
Baptism Day!

Elders Seguine and Johnson at Beiateuea's Baptism
Saturday was my first time performing a baptism.  I was told that no one ever wore the socks and slippers and I told them I was going to be the first!! It was an amazing experience, I was nervous I would say the words wrong, since they were in Kiribati but it went well.  The spirit was so strong!!
That night we were invited to a Botaki which is a huge party for a baby who just turned one.
 
Dancing at the Botaki
When we got there we found out we were the Guests.  It was insane! I got called into the center to dance it was soo fun!  There were a lot of new things that are big on the cultural side, like we were not allowed to stretch out legs, go into the middle without being called,  or walk in between people who were talking, (which is pretty much impossible.)
They even had a dance to show off the cake!  There was litterally sooooo much food! I had raw fish, cooked fish, this super tasty fruit leather stuff, crab, breadfruit, and a piece of pork the size of my head!! I was sooo full! Oh and my favorite, this coconut cream drink with cooked pumpkin for dessert. 
Over all a super good week!!
 
Letters to Mom and Dad
 
Dear mom,
The work is amazing, I try to take as many pictures as I can, but sometimes I just get so busy!! But I am having a blast, and I am working hard.
Our land-lords are the best people!! They are so kind and giving! Most people have stick houses, so we have definitely been blessed to have a house with electricity, and running water, and a gas stove.  I am definitely grateful for that. 

Saturday we did have a baptism, and it went really well, I actually got to perform the baptism too, It was so cool!!! Our chapel has a font and everything.  It was such a cool experience!  I see the other missionaries like every day, it is so cool!! I get to see one elder from my intake everyday!!

I'm glad that you are having more and more opportunities to teach, you have a strong testimony and I have learned so much from you.  I know you are going to do amazing, and thank you for sharing those talks with me!!
I love you so much and I am so lucky to have you as my mom!!
I know that as I continue to do my best the Lord will bless me and you as I serve!
Love your son,
Elder Johnson
 
 
 
Dad,
Thanks for sending recipes and stuff, I am starting to experiment with the food, and when I get good enough I will ask how to cook the Kiribati meals they have.  They have canned tomatoes, corned beef, mushrooms, different packets of soup, canned fish, and rice.  Not much but I'll keep experimenting.

I know that the work can get tough, and stressful, I have definitely felt that a couple times, but I know that the atonement is a way in which we can endure those feelings.  I had a rough time last week.  I was scared, missing home, and felt unprepared.  Elder Seguine talked to me, gave me a talk from Elder Holland where he talks about not giving up, it was in a conference in 1999, and told me to pray and yoke the lord to me.  I did and I feel great, I have been more receptive to the spirit, happy and more focused on the work.  I challenge you to do that. 

I love the primary kids, they are amazing!! Tell them I say hi!

Living conditions are great! they are working on the road so the power goes off at our house every day at seven so I have to shower with a cup and a bucket, and it gets really hot since there is no fan, but it is good! I am very greatful for the house we have, seeing how other people live. 
Jeff's Shower
I am definitely getting more opportunities to teach, I can't speak much, but I understand a lot more. \

My companion is doing good!  He has taught me a ton! and he messes with me all the time!  One night  he told me to shake the Branch Presidents hand so I did because I thought we were leaving, but we weren't.... hahah so funny!!!

Our investigators are great! as of right now we have three couples who are really solid, they come to church, ask a lot of questions and are solid.  The only problem is two of them aren't married, but we are working on that.  The other two are teenage girls, who think I'm hilarious.  They are 12 and 13, one day I pretended to throw a rock at a rooster because they crow all the time and they wouldn't stop laughing for like ever!!

I know that as I try my best to love the people I will have an easier time serving them. 
I love you so much Dad,
Love your son,
Elder Johnson
 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Getting his footing on Tarawa

To Everyone,


First off let me apologize if I can't email everyone individually. That is why I do this big email that talks about my week. We have to pay for the internet, and there aren't very many computers, so I don't stay on for very long. 
The same is true here in the mission field as it was in the MTC, the days are long, but the weeks are super short.  This week has been crazy! We stay super busy, we teach a lot of lessons to less actives and returned missionaries who have sadly fallen away, but they have been great.  I get to shower everyday with a hose through the window. 

We have found 8 new investigators and gave five of them baptismal dates.  The ones we gave dates to all came to church yesterday, it was really amazing.  We have a baptism this Saturday, and I get to be the one that does the baptism.  His name is Beiateuea.  I am so excited, he is a really good kid.  He lives with his aunt and uncle, who are members and also our landlords.  They are super nice. 

Lots of Rain in Tarawa

Two really funny/awesome stories of the week.  Thursday was our service day, and what we did was super cool! We helped a guy named Tio chop down two huge coconut trees with an ax!! super awesome!
After they fed us pancakes, rice, corned beef, and get this... hot chocolate.  Crazy!!!!
Mighty Rat Hunters




Another funny story, is our adventure with rats.  Elder Seguine and I were about to sit down and do our planning when we saw a HUGE rat.  We chased it around and I grabbed a two by four and Elder seguine came out with a tie on his head.  I ended up killing two.  It was so funny! We both reacted in such similar ways.  We spent the night cleaning out their little home, and threw the bodies outside, the next morning they were gone!! Some cat came and ate them.  It was bad!

I love it here, the people are so nice, and I have so much to look forward to. 
This last Sunday, I got to bless the sacrament again, I messed up and had to start over.  I still don't quite  have the pronunciation, but it'll come with time and with the Lord's help. 
That's all I have time for now.  I love you all!!
Love Elder Johnson






Repairing the Roof on Neighbor's House- Beiateuea is on the roof



Excerpts from letters to Mom and Dad:


My companion is awesome!! He is super good at the language and he explains things in ways that are really simple, which is good.  We get along really well, and he is super funny.  Last night we kind of told stories, I talked about water polo and swim, and he told me about fencing.  Super cool!!

My first thought was that our house was super ghetto, but after seeing how most other people live it makes me appreciate it a lot more.   We have a kitchen and a bathroom, but we have to put the water in ourselves for the toilet, and have to shower from a hose hooked up to the well.  Super funny!

We teach a ton of lessons! We just got five that we set up with baptismal dates.  It's rough because people want to be nice and they invite you in to their homes but sometimes don't want to listen.. But the people are super nice.  There are times when I can pick things out, but they slur their words together and speak so fast so it is hard.  There was one lesson where we taught a less active and I shared my testimony, and Ether 12:27, and the spirit was super strong. 


The food is soo good, I don't know how to cook rice, and all I've eaten for lunch is ramen noodles,  and toast, please send me how to cook rice, and some creative things I can do with canned food.  I love the fish! I've had so much of it, and it's so fresh!! Last night they gave us cake and home made ice cream it was awesome!!!

That's all I have time for now.
I love you and your letter helped me a ton!
Love your son,
Elder Johnson





Sunday, November 1, 2015

Temaiku Week 2

Letter to Everyone:

This week has flown by!!!!! I can't believe that I have already been in Kiribati for a week and a half!

This week was insane and super awesome!!! Last P-day our district got together and played sports, it was super fun!!

Tuesday was a normal day, long and full of lessons.  I am starting to feel more comfortable sharing thoughts here and there, I know that the Lord has helped me with that.  Wednesday was our first district meeting, it was super productive and I learned a ton about how to work towards the needs of our investigators.  President Weir was there as well.  Our Lesson was on how to have more effective study, and I shared how I plan my study in 15 min increments and everyone seemed to like that idea.  After the meeting I got to meet with the president, he asked me about my family, and then asked me something that I thought was crazy.... He asked me about school!!



I told him that I wasn't sure, and he told me that he would help me figure that out before he left in July! Crazy.  That night I was a rat exterminator in training, two rats were in our kitchen and I too, a piece of two by four to try and kill it.  Before I shut all of the doors, the went after the rats the first I totally missed and it went out the window.  The second I got it's tail and it was bleeding all over the place! It too escaped....

The next morning was our service day, we cut branches and leaves with kitchen knifes, and Elder Powell cut his finger pretty bad!! We had to have the nurse come and look at it, it turned out alright, which was good!

Friday morning I got my new companion, we split Temaiku (this is the first time it is being split) and went right to work!  He has helped me out a ton!! He has helped me to know that through trials, I learn how to be stronger.


Saturday we had our first Baptism that was super cool to experience, our chapel is the newest one on Tarawa, so we actually have a font.



We do a lot of work trying to find less actives and referrals so we are keeping busy.


Sunday was fast Sunday, it was rough but good.  I got to bless the sacrament in Kiribati with Elder Seguine, that was a really cool experience.  We were planning on fasting until our dinner appointment, but our afternoon lesson insisted we ate.  I was very grateful.  





This morning we woke up at four fifteen and we were picked up by the zone leaders so that the zone could hike to this broken bridge and take pictures it was so cool! We got to walk through the water at one point to get to a part of the island that is only accessible by walking in the water up to your belly.  It was so hard not to swim!! Its was really fun though!!


Letters to Mom and Dad:
Mauri!!!
I'm glad that everyone liked the pictures that I sent of me doing the magic for the kids! They all love it, and whenever they see me they ask me to see the trick again!! haha.  The stupid mosquitos are fast little suckers so I never see them, just the results of them drinking my blood!! XD

The food is amazing!!! Just a couple nights ago we had raw tuna barely cooked in lemon juice and mixed in with coconut cream and put on top of rice.  It was literally one of the greatest things ever!! It's completely different seeing the missionaries back home, and actually living the life of one. I have loved every minute so far! 

 My companion is awesome, he works me hard, which is good, I told him that I am willing to work as hard as he needs me.  We get along pretty well.  I'm still getting to know him but he fenced in high school which is pretty sweet.  He wants me to participate in some way every lesson, it's tough but really good.  He has the language down super good and explains things in a simple way.  

I haven't really gotten sick at all from the food just the first couple of nights.  I wish I knew how to cook more things, especially some of the dishes that people make for us.  When I get a little better at the language I will ask them to teach me.  

There are so many people to teach, and so many faithful members in Temaiku.  We have already had one baptism, and have two more dates set up. 

I'm glad that everyone is doing good at home.  Tell everyone that I love them and that I am praying about everyone and their trials.

Christmas, just get me anything, one thing that I do want if it is possible is a waterproof camera, I almost dropped mine in the water, and a solar panel charger.  those would probably be the most helpful, but if you can't it's no big deal. 

I wish I could have finished the conferences before I left for my mission, but it's okay.  I'm glad that they helped you out.  I was feeling a little home sick the other day and I prayed a lot and asked Elder Seguine for a blessing, he then gave me three talks, all about how we can be strengthened by the atonement, and that trials are made to help us become stronger, and it is only through the atonement in which we can do that.  Keep reading, I think that one thing that could help the family is praying together more, and reading the scriptures everyday.

It's been really tough, but I have already learned so much while I have been here, It's going to be tough but I know that as I work hard and put my trust in the Lord everything will all work out alright.

I love you dad, Love your son,

Elder Johnson