Monday, December 28, 2015

FIRST (& only) MISSION CHRISTMAS

These last couple weeks have been insane. Sorry I didn't send an email last week! And sorry this weeks email is so disorganised! I feel like so much has happened but I can't remember anything hahaha. 

Things that happened:
-We had a Christmas Conference with Norwich & Ipswich zone! I honestly can't remember if I told you about it or not... Or if I already sent pictures of it. Everything is a blur right now. But we played a bunch of games & I got to see Sister Yucra Laura (my trainer)! 

- For Christmas Eve we went to the Chell's home with the Elders & ate lamb & lentils. They have a 2ish year old daughter who is seriously the most adorable child I have ever met. When it was time for us to go, she grabbed all of our shoes & put them on us, then literally pushed us out the door hahaha. 

- We went to the chapel for a Christmas Carol Service that all the missionaries were a part of. I have been sick all week though, so I just pretended to sing or else I would be coughing the whole time. 

I crocheted a thingy!
- On Christmas morning we went to the Watling's home for breakfast & ate pancakes. We also watched Frozen & it was Sister Chou's first time seeing it. Literally so funny watching her because she was so excited about everything happening in it. While we watched it, Sister Watling taught me & one of the Elders how to crochet #christmasturnup

- For dinner, we went to the Evans. They are a Portuguese/English family. They fed us lamb & ham! Also a million Portuguese & Brazilian desserts. Seriously so good. 

Showing me their homemade soap...
- I GOT TO SKYPE MY FAMILY! Ahhhhhhhhhh I love you guys. Honestly the best Christmas gift I could have asked for.

- We watched Tangled with the other missionaries in our ward Christmas evening. It was the first time Sister Chou has seen that movie as well (I think she had a very boring childhood because she hasn't seen any Disney movies). 

- They have a holiday called Boxing Day which is the day after Christmas. It's like a second Christmas. I still don't really understand what the point of it is, but hey! It's an excuse to celebrate Christmas for an extra day, so I loved it! We went to the Mateers for lunch & ate a ton of food. 

- We went caroling at an old folks home on Tuesday and Thursday with some members in the church. So much fun to see the joy that it brought to each of them! All of the elderly were singing along & kept asking us to sing more songs. 

- We went to dinner with the stake president's family & I made all of them cry (good cry) with the spiritual thought I shared. Now every time they see me they joke about they hope I don't make them cry again hahaha. 

- We were supposed to have move calls last night & transfers this week, but they pushed it back another week. So little Chou & I get to be together another week! I'll let you know next Tuesday what is happening with us! 

Although it is hard to be away from family during the holiday season, being a missionary during Christmas is such a blessing. So much love and support is shown to us & it is so much easier to see the Lord's hand in the work as we are all focused so much on Him. I'm grateful that I have this opportunity to be sharing such an amazing message of hope & love. I'm grateful that I am able to change & grow into the person my Heavenly Father wants me to be. & I'm grateful that I am able to help others to do the same.  

Also grateful for you ❤️

Sister Sydney Johannes

#ASaviorIsBorn #AChineseStudentIsReborn

AHHHHHHHH THIS WILL BE A REALLY HAPPY EMAIL! Sabrina got baptised on Friday! And confirmed on Sunday! Yasssss! Honestly such a miracle & blessing. 

Okay so what I'm going to do is tell you all what happened very briefly then I'm gonna share with you something I learned because it changed my life & I hope & pray it will change your lives as well. 

We had district meeting on Tuesday & our district leader talked to us about how big of a blessing it is to be serving in England. He mentioned how hard it was for him when he came on his mission because he had friends serving all over the world & his mission just seemed so much harder. I feel like this is something that every missionary in every mission can relate to.  Something that our district leader discussed was how special each mission, but especially our mission, is. We are able to serve in a country that is so diversely populated with people from different countries & cultures, & the Lord has trusted us with these children. We are able to bring the gospel to people from countries where missionaries are currently unable to go, & we are able to pave the way for future missionaries serving in those countries. 
The Elder's Gave Sister Chow a muffin with a candle in it for her one year

As you know, we had a baptism for Sabrina this week, & one for Tan in October. Both of them are students from China who are now able to share the gospel with their family & friends when they return home. How amazing is that?! 

Okay, moving on. That was supposed to be short, but it wasn't. Sorry. For the rest of the week we saw some less actives, recent converts, & potential investigators, did a lot of finding, & prepared everything for Sabrina's baptism. On Friday we were actually in a trio exchange with Sister Fitts! One of my companions from the MTC! She got to help us prepare for the baptism & be at the baptism! After the baptism, we ate hot pot with the ward. And on Sunday she was confirmed a member of the church & given the Gift of the Holy Ghost!


Okay now the neat thing that changed my life: 
This transfer I have focused all my studies on our Savior & have been trying to develop different Christlike attributes. What I realized was that I would be really good at being patient, or charitable, or humble, for the week that I studied it, but as soon as I moved onto a new attribute, I would forget. I was struggling making the attribute a part of my nature, & not just my behaviour. 
So I told my district leader, & he gave me such powerful advice. It starts with asking three questions:

                                              1) Who is Jesus Christ/What did he do?
                                              2) What has he done for you, individually, that he hasn't done for others?
                                              3) Who are you? 

When we combine 1 & 3, we are able to change our behavior, but when we combine 2 & 3, we are able to start changing our nature. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father & His son will be strengthened as we realise the personal impact that the Savior has on our lives each day. We will then be able to make those attribute we are working to develop a part of our nature, & not just a behavior
It's still a work in progress, & I know that becoming completely Christlike will be an eternal journey, but as I've tried to apply this into my life & studies, I've seen the change in myself. 

Wow this is a long email. If you actually made it to the end, congrats. 

I LOVE YOU 💕💕


Sister Sydney Johannes

LOVE

This week was a little bit crazy, but overall it was a good week. Can you believe there are only 18 days until Christmas?! Ahhhhh I'm so excited! Our mission has had a huge focus on our saviour because of the #asaviorisborn initiative. If you haven't seen the videos yet, go onto christmas.mormon.org & check them out! Also share them with your friends! 
It's such a blessing to be on a mission during the Christmas season. The Christmas spirit is in (nearly) everyone's heart. People are more open & willing to talk with missionaries & we have been able to see miracles already! 

On Thursday, we made fudge for Sabrina because it was her birthday! We dropped it off with a card & when we said happy birthday she started laughing because it actually wasn't her birthday. Awkward. Her birthday is next Friday. Oh well! She loved it anyways! 

On Friday we celebrated Sister Chou's one year mark! We ended up getting on the wrong bus & got lost roaming around a field that is a military firing range. Finally we found a little pond & took pictures by it, them climbed over two fences to get back to the main road. Ahhhh memories. We also met with Sabrina later in the day & she said she is good to be baptised next Friday, the 11th! Yasssss! (Also her birthday! How great of a birthday gift is that?!)

I'm so grateful to be serving a mission. The most amazing experiences come as we invite others to learn about the gospel. The gospel changes people, & we are privileged enough to see it all happen. When we were talking to Sabrina about her baptism, we asked her what she had learned from us. Her answer wasn't what I expected at all, & it was so simple but changed my whole perspective on missionary work. "Love." 

Isn't that what the gospel is all about anyways? If we show someone genuine love, they can see a glimpse of the endless love our Heavenly Father has for them. Missionary work should be that simple because the gospel is that simple. 

Random things that happened:
-We had zone meeting, which was good. 
-The old lady we visit every Sunday with the Elders tried to take her clothes off while we were there. (You should have seen the Elders' faces hahahaha.) 
-I somehow managed to explode my hot chocolate in the microwave. 
-I have less than a year left on my mission. What?! Time seriously goes by so fast. 
-We ran into a less active convert from China at the Uni & he was so scared he almost ran away from us hahahaha.


Sister Sydney Johannes

THANKSGIVING

Sorry all of my emails the last couple weeks have been boring. Also, I am really bad at taking pictures so I have only two to send. Sorry!! 

This week we had our first district meeting of the new transfer & I was privileged enough to give another training (sarcasm). Our district leader knew what he was doing when he assigned the training to me though, it was on patience & if anyone needs to learn patience, it's me. So I did a training on patience, then we all celebrated my six months on the mission with cake & ice cream! We were actually celebrating Elder Mercalf's birthday. But hey! It was on the same day so I pretended everyone was celebrating me instead. 
Us & Sabrina at a cute lil holiday fair

Thursday was Thanksgiving! No one really celebrates Thanksgiving here, but the Grieg family invited us over for a Thanksgiving dinner. It was almost as good as my mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Almost. I ended up sitting at the kids table hahaha. They were throwing food at each other & fighting, but I still think I had more fun with them than Sister Chou did with all the adults. 

I'm thankful for my family & the support they have each given me through my whole life, even when I'm thousands of miles away. I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to be serving a mission & sharing the one thing I treasure most, the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm grateful I can see how this message changes people as they come to know for themselves that it is true. I'm thankful for my Savior & the love He has for me. 

Okay now here's a random thing. We got to teach primary in Sunday as well! One my favourite parts about being s missionary is getting to teach primary kids. One of them prayed & thanked God for the missionaries "because without them we would all be miserable." So remember that. 

We accidentally left our area, so we decided to document it.


I LOVE YOU ALL! Go hug your mom or dad or sister or dog or companion (if you're on a mission) or anyone really! Just show someone that you care about them. 

Sister Sydney Johannes

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

MIRACLES & CHINESE FOOD

Family & friends!

I'll start off by letting you know that SISTER CHOU & I GET TO STAY ANOTHER TRANSFER TOGETHER! We get to celebrate Christmas together in Colchester. It is a miracle. Sister Chou has been here for 6 months & sisters almost never stay longer than that in an area. We were both praying very hard that we could have one more transfer together, so when moves calls came we couldn't even contain how excited we were. 

Now I'll let you know of some other miracles this week (we were really blessed). Chris, the Chinese takeaway man, is on date to be baptised in December! We taught him about the restoration of the gospel on Tuesday. Sister Chou & the member we brought had a hard time understanding what he has saying, so I taught the lesson almost completely by myself. I could feel the spirit so strong as I was testifying to him about the Book of Mormon, so when we invited him to be baptised, he accepted! 
Cuz it's freezing in England now

On Friday, we stopped by a less actives home. We weren't expecting to be let in, but when he opened the door, he gladly invited us in. We spoke with him & his wife (who is not a member) for nearly an hour. Near the end, he was talking about how he never gets any visits from anyone in the church & how our phone call & visit were the first he's had this year. He then added that he never sees missionaries anywhere in Colchester. We told him there are actually six of us serving here & Sister Chou (being super cheeky hahahaha) told him that in order ..to meet them he has to come to church. When we left, he thanked us for visiting him & that he wouldn't be at church this week. BUT ON SUNDAY HIM & HIS WIFE CAME! All of the members greeted him & he loved it! 
Yesterday, Tan and his girlfriend made us Chinese food! It's not a miracle, but it was really good so I thought I'd include it in the email. I ate bamboo for the first time. 


Sister Sydney Johannes

Monday, November 16, 2015

CHINESE TAKEAWAY

Okay okay okay. Time is going by so fast. I say that every week, but it's so true. I cannot get over how quickly this transfer has gone by. In a week we have move calls again & I just can't believe it. 

Random things that happened:
-Our district had to do a musical number at Zone Conference this week. 
-Sister McLean, Sister Fitts, & I were finally reunited at Zone Conference. 
-After Zone Conference the Elders' gps stopped working so we got lost. It took us double the amount of time it usually does to get home. 
-Our investigator, Sabrina, is on date to be baptised on the 5th of December! She is from China & has no beliefs, but has such a strong desire to learn. Ahhhh I love her. 
-I had to go to a doctors appointment & waited for two hours for the doctor. We ended up having to leave to go to an appointment so we waited for two hours for no reason.
-Alaina, a recent convert, took us to eat at a really yummy Italian restaurant. 
-There is a castle in Colcheter & I finally took a picture of it. (See side pic) 
-It rains everyday. Every. Single. Day. 
-There are only 39 days til Christmas (I think)

Okay now I'll share a miracle with you! Every week we go into a Chinese takeaway shop to get dinner because we love Chinese food. One of the employees is a man named Chris who is English & a delivery driver for them. A few weeks ago we invited him to church & he said no. Then we saw him again this week & he said he is too busy to come to church because he is remodelling his home. I told him that we would be willing to help him anytime & he said he would call if he needed us. Okay now fast forward to Sunday! We were a bit sad going into church because none of our investigators were able to come, but when we walked in, Chris was there! He came to church all on his own! He said it was because we offered to help him, so he may as well come to church. He ended up staying for all three hours. He has been to many different churches, but he has never been to one like ours. He loved how friendly everyone was & how it felt like a family. He is interested in learning more & we set up a return appointment for this Tuesday! 

Missions are hard, but the miracles you see each day make the rough times worth it. This is the Lord's work. He is here to support each missionary as they dedicate their time & efforts to Him.  I'm grateful that I have this opportunity to share the gospel & that the Lord trusts me with his children. 

I LOVE YOU. HAVE A GOOD WEEK. KEEP BEING YOU BECAUSE YOU'RE THE BEST. 



Sister Sydney Johannes

ALMA 13:24

Ahhhh I love you all. Thanks to everyone who has sent me an email or letter. I cannot thank you enough for all the love you have shown me. 

Crazy Ipswich Sisters
For pday, Sister Chou & I went to lunch with the Elders & then tried to help them buy matching companionship ties... Which they didn't even end up buying. Then we had a dinner appointment with Tan, his girlfriend, & some members who were moving to Utah a couple days after. 

On Tuesday we met a potential investigator from France at the Uni. Oh. My. Days. Most awkward lesson (if you can even call it that hahah) I've ever had. She decided to meet us at the bus stop, so we figured she would then walk with us to her flat. But no. We just taught a lesson standing next to the bus stop. We talked to her about what we do as missionaries & the Book of Mormon. At the end, Sister Chou asked if we could say a prayer with her, & then she got really awkward, & we felt awkward, & finally we prayed, set a return appointment, & went our separate ways. But oh man. It was such a weird lesson. 

On Wednesday we had a normal day, but had correlation at 7:30. We were the only missionaries that showed up on time. We ended up waiting with our ward mission leader for 30 minutes until the Elders could come. The other sisters weren't able to make it because they had lost their phone in London. So correlation started super late, but was so good. Our ward mission leader read with us Alma 13:24, which says: 

"For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory."
Sister Chou

He then applied this scripture to us as missionaries serving in Colchester. There are over 200,000 people in our area, if many are being prepared by angels to receive our message, why aren't we finding them? One of the key points we discussed was how a humble heart is necessary for true conversion. So there may be thousands of people being prepared, but if they aren't humble, they won't listen. Correlation honesty felt like a district or zone meeting. The spirit was so strong & our ward mission leader was able to motivate each of us to go find those thousands that are prepared. 

On Thursday, we had zone training meeting. The trainings that were given were so amazing, but there was a lot of tension among the missionaries which made it a hard meeting to sit through.  

On Friday, we had an exchange with our sister training leader, Sister Shegikyo. So we got to be in a trio again hahahah. It was also her one year mark, so we celebrated with cake & ice cream. 
On Saturday, the elders picked us up early in the morning to do service. We went to a member's home to tear down her house... Literally. She is remodelling her home, so we spent the whole time taking down walls. We also had dinner with the Bueno family! 

Sunday was good! We got to go into nursery to teach singing time, which was probably the highlight of my day. We also taught a lesson with the Elders, had lunch with a member, & did our weekly planning (two days late because we have been so busy).


Sister Sydney Johannes

Saturday, November 7, 2015

HALLOWEEN


I don't feel like typing out each day, so I'm just going to throw something together. Sorry if it's confusing. 

For pday, we went to the chapel with the Elders & made Chinese hot pot. Sister Faiv also taught me how to serve a volleyball so when we play with the youth I can amaze everyone with my (lack of) skills. 

On Tuesday, we went to London to pick up Sister Faiv's new companion, Sister Wright. We were all a bit sad because we were going to miss being in a trio, but it's been nice that we can now focus on the work & our areas a lot more. Sister Faiv & Wright are still in our ward, so we see them all the time & meet them for lunch or dinner a couple days a week. 

We are finding a lot of amazing people to teach & are excited for this month because we are expecting a couple baptisms (yay!!!!). Since Sister Chou can speak Chinese, we are taking full advantage of that & 90% of our investigators are from China. They have so much desire to learn & have helped build my testimony as we have taught each of them. Man, I am so pumped to see each of them continue progressing in the gospel. 

Halloween in England is not as crazy as it is in America. I honestly forgot it was Halloween until we got into town & I saw a couple children dressed up. Sister Chou & I had four appointments we were supposed to go to on Halloween, but every single one of them cancelled. So we ended up making caramel apples for the members with the Elders. They tasted gross, but it's the thought that counts hahaha. 

On Sunday, we got to teach the sunbeam class! Oh my days. Cutest kids I've ever met. They were all three years old & so excited to be taught by the missionaries. So excited that it was hard to calm them down & the majority of the time was spent telling them to stop climbing on the table & chairs. I don't know how primary teachers do it every week. 


Thank you for everything! Keeping being you because you're the best ❤️



Sister Sydney Johannes

BAPTISM & HOT POT

Oh my days this week has been crazy. We were busy all week this week trying to get everything prepared for tan's baptism that was on Friday. Also, tomorrow we are getting another sister! So I will only be companions with Sister Chou for the rest of the transfer. 
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Elder and Sister Stevens

OCT 19TH After emailing, we ate crepes, did our grocery shopping, did some finding, & went to sleep early. 

OCT 20TH Today we walked a lot. We went to visit an older member, but we took the wrong bus & had to walk from my the end of that route all the way to her home. When we got there, she didn't answer when we knocked on either of her doors, but we could hear and see her inside. Finally, Sister Chou yelled at her through the window & she let us in. She gave us homemade apple pie. Also, she has a son who is a bodybuilder & has a million pictures of him on her walls wearing nearly nothing. But she also has one of his trophies, so I took a picture with it. 
After seeing her, we went to visit a less active & oh my days. This family is crazy. The mother and father are both converts, and the two girls are not baptised. When we walked in, the mother was smoking & then the two girls (15 & 16) lit their own cigarettes. They all just chilled in the living room smoking with us there. We weren't even able to teach them a lesson because they were all besting each other up the whole lesson. Plus, the mother is very blunt & told me she doesn't like Americans at all & nicknamed me 'picky' because I told her I don't like seafood. Anyways, she hated on Americans & me for 20 minutes. When we finally left their house (because the daughters wouldn't let us leave), the younger one was waiting at the bus stop with us & almost started three different fights with random pedestrians. We probably looked like a mob because there were so many of us & the girl was just yelling at everyone. We also had a ward trunk or treat party!

OCT 21ST Today was just a normal day. We went university finding and found a ton of potential investigators. We just stood in one place & stopped every Chinese person we saw. We just asked them how to say "can we be friends?" in Chinese & then they let us be their friends. Later in the evening, our mission president & his wife came to our ward so sister Stevens could share her experiences as a general authority with the relief society.

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Awkward District Family Photo
OCT 22ND We started our day by going to district meeting & I had to give a training. Still praying that some day I will be able to communicate properly in front of a group of more than 3 people. But hey! It wasn't as scary as my first one, so I'm getting better hahahah. After that, we practiced the musical number we will be singing at the baptism. Then we had to run a million errands so we could figure things out for the baptism. After, we taught a lesson to tan with the horigans (members) & they fed us soup. Then we went to do family home evening with a new family in the ward & they fed us weird African spicy ocra slime soup with mashed rice. It was interesting. Then we went to the chapel for correlation with the elders. 

OCT 23RD YAYAYAYAYYA TAN'S BAPTISM!!!! We started the morning by visiting an elderly member named macey. She broke my heart when I hugged her because she started crying & asked me to pray she can get her hearing & eyesight back. Then I started crying. After all that, we ran to a million different Chinese shops to by food for hot pot at the baptism (hot pot is when Chinese people boil water, put spices in it, then put meat, veggies, & noodles in it for a few minutes, then eat it). After, the elders picked us up to take us to the chapel. We chopped all the veggies & filled up the font. Then we had Tan's baptism! The spirit was so strong. I'm so blessed to have been a part of his journey. He is such a great example to me & has strengthened my testimony more than I thought possible. He brought his girlfriend & friend, who were both really interested, so we will start teaching them this week. After the baptismal service, we ate hot pot with the ward! 
OCT 24TH Today we had weekly planning, which was intense because #triolife & companion inventory don't mix well. Then we had lunch & went to the library to do our progress record. After, we took a 40 minute bus ride to an island to see two less actives. Neither one of them were home though, so we walked to the coast. It was so cold & raining so hard, but we got to go to the beach so it's okay! After, we visited a member with 7 cats. 

OCT 25TH This was my first time at church in Colchester! It was exciting meeting all the ward members. In the morning, a potential investigator named Sabrina texted us to see how she can come to church. It was such a miracle because we hadn't followed up with her (I know... We are terrible hahah) to come to church! So she came & we set up another appointment with her :) then we taught the young women class & it went really well, & made me miss young womens. After church we went to visit the less active that hates Americans. She said a lot of other rude things to me & can't stand me just because I asked her how long she has been a member for. Anyways, she's a child of God & is probably a very lovely lady if you aren't American hahahah


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Sister Sydney Johannes