Thursday, September 15, 2016

Week 1 of the MTC


First letter on my we go.

I want to say thank you for all of the support coming out. I saved all of the letters I got and wrote down all of the kind things you all have done for me. THANK YOU.

Thanks for all of the “Dear Elder” letter this week, too. Dear Elders come every day and we get to read them at night. They strengthen me so so much. Shout out to Molly for writing the best letter I've ever received. It outlined the entire last play of the BYU game last week HAHA. So good. Keep those coming kid. 

Getting set apart was an amazing experience. The thing I remember most is my dad reminding me that if I want to find the Savior, he is in his laboring in his vineyard. That hit me so hard. I feel like I have always felt close to Christ and relied on him. Knowing that I was going to labor along side Him took so much sadness away from leaving. It gave me so much peace...that I needed. So thank you Dad. 

Saying goodbye at the curb was an out of body experience. I had no desire to walk away from my family but I just did...and I walked in...and I didn't look back! 

The first people I saw, before I even met my comp, knew exactly who I was. Shout out to elder Bruneel for prepping basically my entire zone for my arrival. Everyone knows who I am and one or more embarrassing stories about me. It's super great. 

My companion is Hermana Jackson. We have NOTHING in common. It's so funny. She hates running and the outdoors....she has a glass of sprite for breakfast lunch and dinner....and her favorite hobby is watching TV. Lol our conversations consist of me telling her dumb stories and then her describing an entire episode of pretty little liars start to finish. It's pretty funny. But amazingly enough we are best friends. We have been from the beginning. She is so sweet, caring, and excited about the work! What more can you ask for in a comp? We laugh all the seriously the point where we need to run to el bano. She just has a chillness for life that I appreciate.

The first night here was a little weird. I decided to read  Mathew 26 and 27. I feel so comforted reading about the Savior. But the best surprise was the last two verses of 27. " Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you : and, lol, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

My dad always tells a story about going into a closet on his mission because he was discouraged and needed to pray for help. He heard that last line in his head "and lo, I am with you alway". I have a huge testimony that Heavenly Father will strengthen us through the scriptures.

The food is pretty I'm saying I have a gluten allergy (throwback to the dorms at BYU when I did the same thing). My district makes fun of me cause I only eat salads... but I have to. everything else is NAST. Luckily for breakfast they serve hard boiled eggs (shout out to Brother Gyewuappiah and Brother's a classic Ghana breakfast)

Speaking of Ghana...I accidentally said Medase (Ghana for "thank you") instead of Gracias. I do it all the time. And I mix up the Ghana accent with the Spanish accent all the time…kind of not ready for that to go away though.

I've seen so many people. The Hansen twins are doing super well, Elder Robert Hinkley and Cody Aden are killing it out here, Colten Roe was so fun to run into, and Elder Jeppson who left for GH last night!!! If anyone knows elder Jeppson's mom, let her know that Peyton is the happiest, most excited missionary here. He is doing so so well. Elder Roe is my favorite to run into. We talk about the good ole mountain biking and skiing days. It makes miss the great outdoors soooo much. We have plans to go biking in two years so hopefully he doesn't bail...

The Spanish is coming so fast! We have taught 3 lessons so far. In each lesson we stumble over introductions and small talk, then we give an opening prayer, and the lesson flows. I LOVE bearing my testimony in Spanish because I get to say things I didn't even know I knew...and the spirit starts working in me so strong. It is amazing.

The MTC is a really good place, but not in the ways you would think. There is nothing familiar here...and absolutely nothing that I like...but I am so happy. It's because of exactly what my dad said at my setting apart: the savior is here, laboring in his vineyard. He is with us all of the time. There things I love and miss at home that I wish I could have, but more than anything I want to be here so that I can learn from this spirit and get close to the Savior. Mosiah 5:13- " For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not serve, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart? "

I have come to know of God's love for us. It is always here. Romans 8: 35-39 helped teach me that. There are times in my life when I have questioned how much He loves me...or have tried to run away. But His love is always there, no matter what. I learned a really cool analogy in relief society that has helped me a lot. Imagine that God is your math teacher. He will prepare you and teach you all day long, but when it comes to a test he needs to sit quietly in the back. You might be frustrated and confused....really struggling with whatever test you have. Like any teacher you can go ask a simple question and they might give you a hint...but a test is supposed to be difficult. The teacher can't just give you the answers or it isn't a test. 

I was struggling with a few things as I begun my time at the MTC. I was worried that I hadn't prepared well enough. If I had known what I have come to know about the Savior just in my first week here I would have been a different person at home. I felt I had so much to repent of. The second thing was worries about my family. I hate not being close by to help you guys. I love being a part of your life, and I worry about you all of the time. I prayed that my concerns would be addressed in the devo My branch pres. was giving to my district. I just prayed and said I needed something to help me. The pres asked us to open to D&C 31. It says "Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation." Open this up in your's worth the read and not the summary. Anyway...then he reads verse 5. He looks right at me and says "your sins are forgiven you" He stopped and said, "Hermana Johnson the 1/12th of a sin you have committed is gone. You are clean." Then he read the next part of the verse to the whole class. "Your family shall live." He said that it means that our families will be blessed for our service and all will be well at home. Then he looked at me and said "You might have left might have been the oldest... you might have felt their burdens on you and been reluctant to leave... people in your family might be sick and you might be worried it will never be the same when you get home. But I promise you that they will be blessed more than ever before." Then he turned away and addressed the rest of the class again. I hadn't ever spoken to this guy in my life...He had no way of knowing this stuff. Seriously....Heavenly Father is working through his servants. 

Sorry for all of that personal/preachy stuff. That's all that the MTC is. Feeling the spirit so strong and changing so much that you feel compelled to share. 

One last thought. I know the atonement is infinite and for all of us. I am beginning to realize that even missionaries will never be able to repay it...ever. Thats why we have to give, to love, and to turn outward like the Savior did. All he asks in return is for us to try and be like Him. When I am hungry, tired, missing those I love, etc. I am only thinking of myself. I, I, I ,I ,I. But if I try to use my thoughts and time to help others all of that goes away. That is the Savior's atonement at work. He blesses us for coming unto Him and trying to live the gospel the best we can. I think of Missy McGrath, Presidents Firmage and Stafford, my Dad, Grandma J, and so so many other people (I would never be able to list them all) who are so happy, yet never take thought of themselves. I have always admired them and wondered how I can be like that, and I finally know their secret... They take upon themselves the name of Christ each week and do their best to represent Him day in and  day out, no matter what. Even when they are struggling themselves you would never know it because they are too busy lifting others. It's overwhelming to look at those examples and see how far I need to go. Thank you again for the great examples. And I hope my fam always remembers to look outward when you would rather turn inward. It really is the remedy for happiness. 

Last scripture cause I love it....It's kind of random. But so solid. Mosiah 4:19...look it up... It reminds me to do something for someone else cause Jesus did a lot for me.

Okay again sorry for the rant. I always thought e-mails like this were so preachy...I've been in the MTC one week I literally don't know anything yet. But the spirit is super strong here and there is really nothing I would rather share than my testimony. 


Hermana Jo 

P.S. Today I'm pretty sure I broke my pinkey toe. BUT I didn't use my farm words...I used my MTC words. Super proud of myself. 

(Annie ran into some friends from home this week at the temple)