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