Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tue, Aug 4, 2015 Aren't we all followers?

Hey there everybody, 

Connie is doing so fantastic! She says that she has felt so peaceful ever since her baptism. The Lord is so amazing. It's incredible to me that He has offered us so many gifts to help us on our journey here, including the Holy Ghost. With Connie being baptized and everything, I have been reminded that every day it is my choice to "receive" the Holy Ghost. If we want pure joy and peace all the time, God has promised us that we can as we live worthy of the Holy Ghost. 

So exciting news! Sister Wright and I will be staying together for another transfer.

Our exercise in the morning ~ Sidney beach ~ Sister Wright & Sister Hoth
We thought for sure that I would be headed back to Spanish work, but I understand that the Lord has so much for me to accomplish here. It's amazing, before my mission, I always thought about how many lives I would have the opportunity to change. But now I realize that I'm not the one changing lives...they are all changing my life.  I want to be a better person because of the examples I have seen. 

So this week, I have been studying a lot about conversion. My goal for my mission and for my life is to become completely converted to the Lord. Conversion is the steady process of becoming like Christ. Some people often think that conversion is one huge moment where you knew for sure that the gospel is true or that God is real. While those moments are a huge part of conversion, it also includes each moment in between those times. I love the quote by one of my sister training leaders. She said, "Throughout our lives, we will have breathtaking, life-stopping, experiences. True conversion is what we do in between those times. Conversion is discovered in the quiet moments of enlightenment." And I also learned from "True to the Faith", that "conversion is a quiet miracle". Some people can be converted without even knowing it. It's interesting, for a while, I was praying for one of those big "converting moments", but while I was doing that, I was neglecting those sacred, quiet moments of conversion. I love how Alma 5 explains conversion. It says, "he changed their hearts", "their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word", and "their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love." These moments described can be felt everyday if we allow them. 

This is one of the reserves...Tsawout. It was a rainy day. 
We had an incredible zone meeting this week. It was all about ridding ourselves of pride and realizing what we are aspiring for. Something I learned is that the thing that makes a leader an amazing leader is the person they follow. President Burt asked the question, "Aren't we all followers?" and then he asked, "Does a calling or position determine the depth of your testimony?" So often in my life I've wanted to be considered a leader, someone that others could look up to. I have now come to the realization that I would much rather be a follower. A follower of Christ. Choosing to be a follower takes humility. Humility is choosing to do the Lord's will and giving Him the glory for what is accomplished. It's not competitive, but gives praise to others often. It is loving God and your fellowmen. It is a sign of spiritual strength. All of you should read the talk "Beware of Pride". It is so incredible, and has changed my life. 

It has been an incredible week for learning! We have seen so many miracles as we have applied what we've learned. Yesterday, we went to the Tsartlip reserve. Haha, ever since I've got here, Sister Wright has been terrified to go to this reserve. I finally convinced her that we need to go there! It was amazing. We saw so many miracles. We set up a few return appointments and met an amazing women named Chalia. She met with the missionaries like 4 years ago. She told us that she would be so interested in meeting again. We are so excited to see her again! Oh yeah, I got a glimpse of my first Powwow. It was super cool, but we were only able to see the First Nations dancing for a few minutes. So cool. 

We had an amazing first lesson with a man named Roger this week. He doesn't have a religious background at all, but has been searching for the truth for such a long time! My favorite moment of this lesson was when we started talking about Jesus Christ and then immediately was overcome with the Spirit. Just before that he has said that he wasn't even sure if Jesus was real. But just as soon as he started speaking about Christ, his eyes filled with tears and his heart was softened. I know that he felt the Holy Ghost. It was such an incredible experience. 

There are so many other miracles we have been able to see this week. The greatest miracle of all is the chance that I get everyday to bear testimony of this amazing gospel. My heart is so full of gratitude for everything the Lord has done for me. I know that God lives. I know that He loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I can promise you that as you turn to Him, your life will be filled with peace and joy. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. This gospel is good. It is perfect. Thank you for all of your love and support. I pray that each of you will evaluate your own testimonies and conversions and figure out how to deepen them. 

Love, Hermana Hoth


     "For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." 2 Nephi 20:10. The refinement has come through so many different lessons. I have learned so much.
I have learned about Sikhs, about their gurus and gurudwaras and how they believe "one God"; Buddhists, Muslims, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witness, Mennonite, Catholic, Baha'i, Hindu, Pentecostal. So many churches. I have learned about so many different beliefs. 
     I have learned about so many different cultures. East Indian in Abbotsford and Surrey. First Nations in Sidney. Filipino in Surrey. And Latin...in Surrey. And so many other ones along the way.
     I have learned about the many different drugs that are out there. And I can recognize their smells. 
     I have learned about skunk cabbage and how it looks so pretty but smells like weed. haha
     I have learned how to make conchas and empanadas and papusas.
   I have learned about the provinces and territories of Canada. I have learned that Quebec is to Canada as Corsica is to France. 
     I have re-learned how to speak Spanish...well enough to get by. 
     These lessons are all useful. But the refinement, and the real lessons, have come in a different form. A more spiritual, eternal, lasting form.
     I have learned how much a letter can mean. Thank you, thank you, thank you for every single email and letter. You really will never understand how perfectly timed every single one was. Thank you for writing me and lifting me. Thank you for bearing your testimonies to me. You have been my angels:  "I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." -Doctrine & Covenants 84:88

I remember sitting there in the apartment of Aldergrove, as my dear companion had to sleep because her body literally could not move. I remember praying and studying the scriptures, and feeling God's love. I learned how to repent. I learned that repentance "includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world." I wanted that fresh view--and I wanted it daily. I began to recognize the importance of daily repentance--without it I would never be able to live with God again. I learned that repenting daily would soon lead to a change of heart.  "Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word." -Alma 5:7
     I remember Sister Desjourdy teaching me that missionaries have layers (just like ogres). She taught me of how the world defines us by the layers on the outside. I came on my mission defining myself as someone who loved the sky, loved music, loved lacrosse, loved longboarding, loved nature, loved thrift shopping. I learned, from the best trainer in the world, that those layers had been stripped from me when I put on my missionary name tag. With that came the opportunity to discover who I really was--a daughter of God. I have learned that I am a daughter of God--that the world doesn't need to define me.  "And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures." -Mosiah 27:25-26
     I remember learning about the roles of the Holy Ghost. I learned through a terrifying experience that the Holy Ghost is a COMFORTER. He comforted me, he lifted by terror, my pain, my fright, my anxiety, and he replaced it with peace. The Holy Ghost is a comforter. I have also come to learn that he is a purifier, testifier, leader, protector, teacher, enlighten-er, guide, discern-er. I have learned each of these roles, and many others, in specific moments. 
     I remember white-washing Sidney with my dear, dear Sister Ritchie. We fasted every single Sunday. I learned the power of fasting. I have felt that over and over again. Fasting makes us stronger. Fasting, according to Hna Hoth: "We refrain from filling our bodies with food so we can fill our souls with the Spirit." That is something I have learned to be true. 
I remember the many days when I just felt down. I wasn't getting along with my companion, I wasn't connecting with any of the members, we weren't teaching any people. I just felt down. And I learned that the only thing that helped me was to GO OUT and bear my testimony. I learned how to introduce people to Jesus Christ, not just talk to them about Him. I learned that a Quality Gospel Conversation always lifts your spirits, and someone else's too.
     I remember teaching Perry in Sidney. I love that kid. He had been raised in less-than-desirable circumstances. But graciously, he was now living in a member's home as a foster child. I learned from him that we can rise above our circumstances. And I've had to remember that lesson and remind myself to rise above. Perry is now a Quorum President and gave a talk this past Sunday in Sacrament Meeting. 
     I remember hearing of Janelle's death and of Michelle West's. I remember everything I was testifying of being put to the test. But through those experiences I learned how absolutely perfect God's plan really is. 
     I remember white-washing Surrey with Sister Dixon. We watched the Christmas Broadcast on Allana's bed on her tiny computer screen. She had been an investigator for several months and smoking was holding her back--at least that's what she said. I remember praying so hard for her, and seeking for inspiration. I felt that we needed to help her strengthen her faith. Sister Merritt and I taught her principle by principle and helped her truly gain a testimony of everything we taught. She was baptized, and now she has a calling in the Primary, is a faithful visiting teacher, and goes out with the sisters all the time. I learned that faith precedes any miracle. "For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith." -Ether 12:12
     I remember sitting in a little shack of a house in one of the First Nations reserves. Sister Ritchie and I cried as this sweet, sweet woman, Anna, sang with all her soul "THANK YOU, LORD" after describing to us her many, many afflictions. I have learned that when times get hard, it does no good to murmur. We have to thank Him. "O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!" -Mosiah 2:19
     I remember a personal study I had once when I went in with the question of my soul: "Why is eternal life so good?" I remember being filled with the Spirit-- overflowing with the Spirit--and recognizing that those good feelings of the Spirit are "a foretaste of eternal joy and a promise of eternal life." I learned in that moment, that eternal life truly is the greatest gift God has to offer us.
     I remember in my very first email, from when I was a wee-little thing in the MTC, I wrote:   "I love my first name, and it has been hard for me to adjust to people knowing me as Sister Johnson, because I feel it is so much less personal. But it's not about me--it's about the Savior." 
     And I've learned that lesson time and time again: What it means to "take upon the name of Christ". I loved being Kira, but now that's not who I see myself as because I have changed and grown so much. The person I now am is Sister/Hermana Johnson. But in just 9 days, I will be Kira again. I remember pondering this dilemma a couple months ago and writing this down: "I'm realizing that truly I still am Kira but I've learned how to take upon myself the name of Christ. I'm striving to live what He taught. The sacrament every week will continue to be a powerful reminder of the lessons I have learned out here and the person I have become."
     I feel like the apostles of the primitive church: " And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." -Acts 5:41-42
     When I got my mission call, that September 25, 2013, I prayed to Heavenly Father and told Him that my mission would be my gift to Him. These 18 months have taught me that this is truly His gift to ME. 
       "Changed by holy fire that has burned into my soul. 
Filled with new desire that calls me now to go." -One Voice (one of the rare actually good efy songs)
     I am so grateful to have been labouring in this part of His vineyard, in Aldergrove, Abbotsford, Sidney, and Surrey. I am grateful to be labouring with many dear, dear, dear friends.
     So much love. And SO much gratitude for each one of you.
Sister.Hermana KIRA Johnson

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