Monday, August 24, 2015

THE CHURCH IS TRUE, OKAY?

August 17th Today we had district p-day, so a couple hours before everyone came we did some finding with the Elders in town. Then we all went home & changed into normal clothes & met the missionaries from Huntingdon back in town. We went to an expensive Chinese buffet (I wanted to die cuz it was £8 & I don't even like Chinese food) & then to a park to play games. 
The district (minus Elder Alvey): Sister Katrnakova, Sister Yucra Laura, Sister Swann, me, Elder Jensen, Elder Koehler, Elder Toa
August 18th We found in the morning & ran into one of our potential investigator's  husband. He kinda got mad about Mormonism, but in the end, he invited us to eat lunch with him & his wife later this week.

August 19th Today we had a lesson with Bruce & Kevin (the man who hates America). Bruce came having done his research on anti-Mormon websites. He asked us a bunch of questions that didn't make sense, but told us that Mormonism could be true, so he wanted to keep learning. 
Me when everyone is reading Anti-Mormon websites instead of the Book of Mormon (I kinda looked like an elderly man as a child lol)
August 20th We had district meeting this morning & learned about putting people on date for baptism & the importance of having the Holy Ghost with us. After the meeting, Sister Yucra & I walked to town & met our potential investigator for lunch. But she actually didn't have food... So we just sat on a bench & had a lesson. It was going so well & she had agreed to meet with us for all the lessons & come to church. The Elders came into town halfway through it & were taking pictures of us teaching. Then, as soon as the Elders left, our investigator started yelling at us & called the Book of Mormon blasphemous because it says it is "comparable to the bible" in the introduction. Then a nice lady came up to talk to us about church & our investigator stole this new potential investigator from us & told her she would bring her the bible to study. Then she stole Sister Yucra's scriptures. Lol it was interesting. 

August 21st Today we finally put someone on date for baptism! His name is James! After that we ran into some of our former investigators & listened to a guy sing Ed Sheeran songs (crying cuz I love Ed Sheeran). Then we went to Lesley's home to do service with the Elders. 
August 22nd We had a lesson with Bruce & Kevin again & they called us brainwashed. Bruce was trying to convince us that what we believe was false because of the "facts" he found on the anti-Mormon websites. I started crying in the middle of the lesson & Bruce felt really bad & told us he would never do anything to hurt us because we are "such lovely girls." Then he continued to bash our beliefs.

August 23rd Today was a rough day because none of our investigators came to church & then got a text from James saying that he couldn't take any church seriously & doesn't want to get baptized. He says he still wants to meet with us, but "don't try to baptize me!!" We will see how that all pans out. After that, we went finding in town & I spoke to this older man. When I asked him what makes him happy he said "nothing." He told me it was because his wife passed away a few months ago. He isn't religious at all & couldn't understand how there could be a god with so many bad things happening. I shared my testimony about the Plan of Salvation & how God has a plan for each of us. He lit up when he found out he could see his wife again. 
The District 2.0
Even though this week has been hard, I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to share a message of hope & happiness. My testimony has been strengthened so much this week & I know without a doubt at the Lord has a plan for me, & you, & everyone we meet. He lives & He loves us. 

Also, shout out to Kendall Smith (love you) for sending me this: 
Even if you don't think you are making a difference, you are. Just remember Abinadi. He probably thought he had no success in converting the people, but he changed the heart of Alma, even just one person, who changed the lives of generations of people. Even something as little as your example can change people's perspectives, or can change their lives down the road. The Lord prepares people, and present day failures might turn out to be future successes! You never know! Just keep doing you and being amazing, and I'm sure the Lord will provide for you! 

P.S. Today is my Dad's Birthday!! I love you, Dad!


LOVE YOU ALL
Sister Sydney Johannes

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

MURDER CAPITAL

Lol if you're going to only read part of this entry read August 15th & then pray for me & Sister Yucra. 

August 10th Today, after the usual pday things, we met up with the Elders & roamed around the embankment (it's this place on the river & it's like a long park thing... sorry that made no sense lol) trying to figure out something fun to do. We ended up walking to the Elders flat so they could grab the brownies they had made & Sister Yucra & I waited outside for forever while they did that. Then we went back to the embankment & fed a squirrel some brownies for 45 minutes & then watched Elder Toa climb a tree. 
Elder Toa Climbing the tree. Elder Alvey taking his picture
After that, Sister Yucra & I had an exchange with the Sister Training leaders & I got to stay in Bedford with Sister Grant. 

August 11th Today Sister Grant & I taught a man & his friend about the restoration. It was the hardest lesson I've ever had to teach because his friend hates America... And I'm from America. So he hated on America the whole time & told me I had been brainwashed by my parents to believe what I had testified about. He's convinced that America created our church so that they could take over the world.... Ya ok? How about not? 
After that, we had lunch with Bel (recent convert from Ghana) & her family. She's the best. I love her. Then we stopped by potential investigators' houses. We met one who was acting like someone in a horror movie would act. So like, super sketchy. Then we exchanged back.

August 12th Today was pretty much like ever other day. We found all day, then met an investigator at the library. She brought her friend & we didn't really teach a lesson because they just wanted to know how America is different from the UK. Then we went to the park with the Elders to do finding & we met this super nice girl from Costa Rica who is on holidays right now. I had no idea what she was saying to Sister Yucra, but she smiled a lot so I'm assuming she was nice. 
Buckingham Palace

August 13th Today we woke up at 5:30 am to go to London for Zone Conference. Elder Alvey served in London for 6 months, so he was our lil tour guide. We got to see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, & Hyde Park. It was fun being a tourist for a little bit. Then we went to the Hyde Park Chapel for the meeting. After the meeting we talked to pretty much everyone in the St. Albans and Northampton stake. I also got to meet Sister Amanda Kerr! We had followed each other on social media since we both got our calls & finally got to meet! 
Buckingham Palace with Elder Alvey, Elder Toa, & Sister Yucra
August 14th Today we had weekly planning, then we took a bus so we could go to a meal appointment with a member, Sister Evan. We ended up missing our bus stop though, so Sister Evan had to come pick us up from a KFC in the next town over. 

August 15th Hahahahahahha today was weird. We met a man & he told us he is an armed robber & 'shoots people, shoots them right in the face.' But instead of freaking out ,like we probably should have, we just invited him to church & told him God loves him. Like, we were so calm & I have no idea why. After that, we met this guy named James who was talking to us about how he likes going to different churches so we invited him to ours & we texted him the address. Later on he texted us back saying: "Hi Sister Johannes. What kind of movies do you like? Sound of Music? ;)" lol lol lol we died laughing because earlier in the day we got a text from a potential investigator saying, "hi dear and pretty sister I am ok thinking about both of you so sweet and religious." 
Big Ben (basic London picture lol)
August 16th None of the missionaries in Bedford were expecting investigators to come to church today, but a miracle happened! Five visitors who weren't members showed up! They all loved church, too! So the Elders are going to start teaching all of them! 
RANDOM THINGS:
- There is an Italian lady named Leena who sells ice cream in town centre & she sometimes gives us free ice cream. 
- Our zone leaders said sister Yucra & I were their favourite companionship cuz we are always working hard. 
- The APs called & asked if we could fit two sets of sisters in our flat so we might have four sisters in Bedford next transfer! 
- I got stuck in the ticket machine during rush hour in the tube. Lol life is hard. 

Thank you for all the sweet emails I received this week! And all the prayers. I cannot thank you all enough.  
❤️ Sister Sydney Johannes

Monday, August 10, 2015

DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS

 This has been one of the hardest weeks of my entire life. 


August 3rd After grocery shopping, cleaning, & emailing, we met the Elders in town & bought cookie supplies & bread. Then we went to the river & fed all the ducks & geese. It was honestly the funnest Pday I've had since coming on my mission. There's not a whole lot to do in Bedford so we missionaries are pretty easily entertained. After that, we went to a less active's house to make cookies & watch Meet the Mormons
Elder Toa feeding the Geese
August 4th We started off our day by doing service with the Elders at the chapel. There is whole entire house attached to the back of our chapel & it is full of random furniture & clothes, so we had to organize all of that with a crazy member from a different ward. She kept calling all of us Fred & threatened to knock Elder Alvey out a few times. After that, we met our investigator, Chen, & his friend, Chu, at the bus station to go to the chapel. We gave them a chapel tour & it went really well. They are from China & have no background of religion at all, so we have to start at the very very very beginning when we teach them. 

August 5th Today we found all day. When I find for that long I kinda feel like dying so to make it more fun I spoke in a Scottish accent for over an hour. 

August 6th We had a District Meeting in the morning & talked about how we can be more effective teachers. Then we found for the rest of the day. We met this super nice man who is disabled & he has gone through some of the hardest trials, but his belief in God is so strong. He agreed to meet with us & told us we were amazing young women because we had decided to sacrifice 18 months of our lives to bring people happiness. 

"Same" (to the thing stuck on the mailbox)
August 7th Today we had weekly planning & after that, we went to St Neots to meet with am investigator. The lesson went well & her & her family are all interested in learning more & being baptized. Then we had dinner at a member's house. Then we missed our bus & had to wait 35 minutes in the dark for our bus & the only places around us that we're open were pubs so we just had to chill outside. Then we got back to Bedford & pretty much ran home because we were going to be late & the creepers were out. Then we had call-ins with Elder Alvey & in the middle of it our mission president called, but we didn't answer it so he left a message. He told us that he needed to speak with me so I was terrified that I was in trouble. I called him back & tried to kick Sister Yucra out of the room so I didn't get rebuked in front of her, but she refused to leave because she knew what was coming. President Stevens told me that my grandpa had passed away earlier that day. 

So after crying for what seemed like forever, we finally got to go to bed. But right when we were saying goodnight our zone leader, Elder Toledo, called. He said he had felt a strong feeling that he needed to call us & very quickly he found out why the spirit was telling him to call. He told me all kinds uplifting words & then forced me to get out of bed & write in my planner: LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. Then he asked me to say a prayer over the phone & I cried the whole time.

The YSA girls in the ward. (Marcia & Sandra)
August 8th We went banner finding with the Elders & there was a man playing really sad violin music next to us & I started crying in the middle of town centre. 

August 9th Chu, Chen, & their friend, Wang, came to church today! It was such a blessing because we weren't expecting them to at all. We taught them the Plan of Salvation in the last two hours of church & I cried in front of all of them as well. But they said that we were all friends & invited us over to eat Chinese food, so it's all okay. 

Later that night I got to Skype my family. It was amazing being able to see & hear all of them. We shared stories & laughed together & it made the pain go away for a little bit.

Thank you for all the prayers & emails. I cannot thank you all enough!


Sister Sydney Johannes

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Grandpa Gene

The hardest thing I've ever had to do was say goodbye to my grandpa when I left for my mission. While we were hugging, he whispered in my ear, "I hope I'll still be here when you get back." The second hardest thing I've had to do was hear that he passed away-- that he wouldn't be there when I got back. My grandpa was the sweetest, happiest person I've ever known. I'm lucky to have had such a strong relationship with him & to have had him as a constant role model to me growing up. I know he is happy & will continue to support me as I serve my mission & go throughout my life.  It has been a rough few days, being so far away from my family in this time of trial, but I've come to rely on the Lord and his never ending comfort & strength. I'm blessed to have the gospel in my life & the knowledge that I will see him again. God be with you, Grandpa, until we meet again. ❤️
 
     P.S. Send me emails at sydney.johannes@myldsmail.net

Monday, August 3, 2015

#BLESSED

OUR INVESTIGATOR WAS BAPTIZED!!!!!!!! Ahhhh so exciting! We have been able to see the lord's hand in our lives since we started teaching her & I'm so grateful that I could be a part of her journey into the gospel. 
That happened on Saturday though, so let me rewind to the beginning of the week . 

July 27th After emailing, we ran to the bus station to catch a bus to a member's house for dinner. But the bus ended up leaving 4 minutes early so we didn't make it in time & missed the bus. And it was the last bus for the night. So we called the member to let her know & she was a little (lot) mad at us & we were a little (lot) sad because she cooks really well. So instead of that, we ate toast at our flat. 

July 28th Today was a normal day. We have no solid investigators except Carol (the one that was baptised), so we spent the whole day finding. Then we had a Skype lesson with Carol at Lesley's house. Because we found out Carol was going to be baptised the first of August on Sunday, we had to cram the last lessons into 3 shorter lessons. Kinda stressful, but I've grown to love technology because of it. 

July 29th Today was nearly the same as Tuesday. We found all day & had a Skype lesson with Carol. In the middle of our day we met the elders at the chapel to work on a musical number for the baptism. It went kinda well. I pretty much turned into 'Drill Sergeant Sister Johannes' because nobody knew what to do & I ended up (nicely) ordering everyone around. 

July 30th Today we had to wake up at 5:20 am so we could take a bus to Northampton for Zone training meeting. Sister Yucra Laura & I were the only sisters at the chapel for nearly an hour so we made all the elders give us advice on our investigators. Elder McAvoy is a champ. He gave us the best advice. After zone meeting, he made me commit to reading a talk about happiness because he thinks I'm depressed. I'm not though! I just love all of my investigators so much, so when we have to drop them or something bad happens in their life, I get really sad for them. 

During the meeting we talked about D&C 121:34-46. These scripture start off by saying that many are called but few are chosen. As missionaries & as members of the church, we are all called to the work of the Lord. But it's our own works & desires that determine if we are chosen. It truly is our choice if we want to be chosen. Something that was hard for me when I first started my mission was forgetting myself in the work. I was constantly focused on how my family & friends were doing back home, and not enough on the people I was serving. Obviously it's okay to think about our families, but it's when we let things from home distract us from our purpose as missionaries that it becomes a problem. Another problem that can keep us from being chosen is being prideful. As missionaries, we have a very sacred calling & with this calling comes great responsibility. But pride destroys a missionary. It's when we are humble & teachable that the spirit can work with us & lead us to the people who are prepared to receive our message.  

July 31st We had no appointments today, so we found all day long. We met with the elders at the chapel in the evening to practice our song a few more times & make sure everything was good for the baptism tomorrow. Then we ate dinner, planned, & made cookies at the same time & I ended up burning half the cookies. Obviously I'm not very good at multitasking. 

August 1st We woke up & had to leave for the chapel early because the elders told us the font was broken. So when we got there we found out the drain doesn't work & neither does the water heater for the font. So we ended up having to fill it with cold water & carry buckets of water from the sink & dump it into the font. When Carol showed up we told her the dilemma & she said it was okay if she was baptized in cold water. So it was definitely a day none of us will forget. The baptismal service was beautiful & our song sounded kind of good! After the baptism, Carol told us that all she wanted to do was share her testimony with everyone. It's been such an amazing experience watching Carol progress I the gospel. She has been such a great example to me & my testimony has grown so much since our first lesson with her. I definitely feel blessed to have been used as an instrument in the Lord's hands as we have helped prepare her for baptism. 


Thanks to everyone who has written me emails & letters! I couldn't be more grateful to be surrounded by so much love, both at home & in England. I love you all!!!   

Sister Sydney Johannes

Saturday, August 1, 2015

SILLY ENGLAND WEATHER

Time is going by sooooo fast. I hit two months this coming week & it doesn't even feel like I've been here for one. Also, this week was a roller coaster. My emotions have been all over the place. I didn't think it was possible to love people as much as I love my investigators & the people I serve. It I s both a blessing & a curse because I cry all the time now. 

July 22nd Today we had an appointment with a potential investigator, but when we showed up we found out he was actually a member but was less active so neither one of us had met him. So that was a lil confusing. After that we went to a members house for dinner & then right after that we went to a relief society bbq for our second dinner. #blessed

July 23rd Today we had district meeting, which was super exciting because we got to meet all of the new missionaries in our district. It's definitely going to be a different dynamic in our district, but I love everyone so much I'm sure it'll be a good transfer together. After the meeting, we went to Elms Farm with the elders so that our investigator could have her baptismal interview. But a ton of stuff had happened with her family we didn't know about at the time, so we ended up having to move her baptism from this coming week to a different one. It was a very hard situation & I left the house wanting to cry. 

July 24th In our weekly planning, we do something called companionship inventory where we talk about our strengths & weaknesses. We don't big issues though, so what was discussed was how I say silly all the time. Sister Yucra was convinced that I was swearing when I said it, & I had no idea how to explain exactly what it meant so she would believe that it wasn't swearing at all. So we were going to the English dictionary, the Spanish to English dictionary, pretty much every dictionary we had in the flat. Then we texted our district leader & a member in the ward to see what they thought. Eventually, we all convinced Sister Yucra that it wasn't bad to say. The whole time I was sooooo surprised that someone was borderline rebuking me for saying silly when that's such an innocent word hahahahahah. 

This whole entire day it rained. It never stopped. And we had no appointments to go to, so we were left having to tract in the rain. It didn't go well because no one let us in & no one in their right mind was out on the streets. So on our way home the only things for us to preach to were the geese & swans so, because I'm so funny, I took out my Book of Mormon & pretended to be having a lesson with the birds. It doesn't sound funny when I type it out, but Sister Yucra & I were so tired & delusional that we were both dying laughing. Then, when we got home we had to do our gaps (the two minute lesson role plays) & as a joke we decided to act like total strangers we would meet on the street. It was the best idea ever because Sister Yucra pretended to be an old person & I couldn't stop laughing after everything she said. Then I pretended to be a gangster & we both were crying we were laughing so hard. Lol we are so easily entertained.

 
July 25th Today we went banner finding with the elders &, as usual, crazy stuff happened. One man stormed up to Sister Yucra & I & started yelling at us because 'the Mormon religion is the reason there are wars between religions' & 'you had to go & write some new book (referring to the Book of Mormon) just to be different.' So this guy was very bitter, & we just stood there the whole time he was yelling at us (like five minutes). Then, when he was finished I said, 'we didn't write the Book of Mormon. It was written by prophets & contains the word of God." He got really mad & stormed away. After that a black man came up to us & accused us of being racist because we had a picture of Jesus on our banner & Jesus was white. Sister Yucra was just standing there like "hello! I am not white either!" But we just let him yell at us & didn't argue back & he eventually left. But banner finding wasn't all that bad! I found one new investigator! She is lovely! 

After that, we decided to tract & on our way to the street we stopped a sweet lady from China & she told us she wanted us to meet her son (he's studying at the uni & doesn't have a lot of friends-- her words, not mine) & take him to church. So we waited until he came out of the house & when he did his mom told him about us & made him give us his number. He was really embarrassed, but we got a new investigator out of it, so we aren't gonna complain 💁. 

July 26th OUR INVESTIGATOR THAT DROPPED US CAME TO CHURCH & IS GOING TO BE BAPTISED THIS SATURDAY!!!!! Ahhhhhh such a crazy miracle. We were so happy & I literally jumped for joy when she committed to being baptised again. It was so last minute that we had to call the elders & get them to the church so elder alvey could do the interview. Next week I'll tell you how it went :) 

Something that I've had to focus on a lot this last week is having a positive attitude, even when I feel like sitting on the side of the street & crying. One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn since coming on my mission is diligence. Sometimes things get really, really hard & it seems so much easier just to give up. But I know that it's in those times when I need to push myself just a little further. It's in those times when I need to turn to my lord for guidance & strength. And it is in those times that miracles take place. 

"You have 18 months to labor and the rest of your life to think about it. Do not rob yourself of that hard work, when discouragement comes do not give up, it is the completion of the journey that counts, but its not about just finishing, you have to serve with all your might" -Elder Ardern 

I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be serving. Although missions are physically, mentally, emotionally, & spiritually exhausting, serving a mission was the greatest decision I've ever made. I know that the church is true & I know that the message I have  the privilege to share is a message of hope & happiness. I know that my redeemer lives & loves each of us, I know he is there to lift us up in our times of trial & heartache. 

I love you all!!! Sorry I took zero picture this week. I promise I will email some next week! 

Sister Sydney Johannes