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


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


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!

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

 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, )
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
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:
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