Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Not Exactly a Novel Today

February 2, 2015

Well, I don’t have a lot of time today to write, but, I mean, I’ll  tell you all later what’s going on, so don’t worry.  Victor and Cassandra didn’t have money to publish their legal wedding announcement until it was legally like one day too late to publish it on the 7th.  I honestly cried when it became too late.  But, here's the good news:  they are 100% ready to get married on the 9th, my last day on the mission.  So, I can see their baptism via Skype or something.  

Now, the Castillas had some last-minute problems, and we got a text at 8:30 yesterday, right as we were passing by their house, that Guido was already on his way to the airport and wouldn’t make it.  He’ll get baptized next transfer.  Thank you, Skype!

So, we were actually a little bummed on Sunday during church, but it ended up being a fantastic day.  We were able to find and teach for the first time 2 new families that just loved the family home evening we taught them.  The first family in particular just kept thanking and thanking us for having taught them how to do a family home evening and were very excited for their next appointment.  It was great, because both contacts were just perfect.  Both helped us learn what the spirit really feels like and how simple it really is.

This week is going to be good.  This is the last chance to leave something good here, so don’t worry—it will be good.

Love you all!  See you later.

Elder Johnson

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sorry, not a lot of time (for the email, I mean)

Sorry for not doing that great of an email today.  This day is just a little crazy.  I'll explain.  Victor and Cassandra need to turn in their wedding papers today so that they can get married on the 7th.  I don’t really know what is needed in the states, but this is kind of a difficult process.  You know how I usually walk around in circles when I don’t know what I’m doing?  That’s me today.  I’m going to leave here, eat lunch, and turn in the papers with Victor (and with my companion, I guess). Finally!  Aside from the papers, they are ready for the 7th.

Guido Castilla was the guy who came last week that everyone thought was a member.  Since then, he has read until Mosiah in the Book of Mormon and understands everything.  He is ready and happy to get baptized.  Unfortunately, his wife didn’t come to church yesterday.  I hate to admit it, but I didn’t know what to do.  I wanted him to keep with his baptismal date so I could see him in white before I leave, but his family isn’t ready.  When we taught them last night, the impression was clear: I invited them for the 14th, which they all said they would do if they felt like it was true before then, which was something that I didn’t think they would all accept.  I really am grateful that the Lord prepared everything in that house that day, because the oldest daughter was visiting by surprise that day, and she just so happened to almost get baptized years ago in Comas.  She just made everything perfect in the lesson.  I am happy that the family can really do this together, even though I won’t see it in person.

We also taught another person for the first time this week who admitted that she doesn’t want to be alive anymore.  It was a privilege to be able to teach her right when she needed it.  It’s incredible how simple the means are for being the answer to prayer sometimes:  just say hi to the person on your side.

Love you all!
Elder Johnson

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thanks for Praying

We had a really great week here.  It really is too bad that I couldn’t be here longer, because this is the best area I’ve ever been in.  We are one of four companionships in Miramar, which makes ward council meetings kind of crazy, but the ward is just great (hence the four companionships).  It was also a very rewarding Sunday.  All of the companionships were able to bring new people in, so they had to open up the overflow.  Great time.

Guido Castilla has made some real great progress this week.  Since we taught him the Restoration this week, he has been all set for the 7th.  I thought he would be a tough cookie.  A Catholic, retired Marine, but a real softie in the end.  The next time we came over, we saw that he had a made a cover for his Book of Mormon and had read up till 1 Nephi 3.  He went to a church tour with us on Friday, even though he was sick, and then came on Sunday with his brother who’s visiting from Puno (that’s basically the moon).  We were explaining who he was to the ward council after church, but they were all confused because he already seemed like a member to them.  He’s a real natural.
We were also finally able to visit Margarita Mendoza this week as well.  She was found during a ward activity to visit less actives, and the group accidentally knocked her door instead of her neighbor (who is also a less active).  She just moved here and was baptized as a little girl, but her children are not members and she wants to come back.  Funny how that works sometimes.  Her son Rodrigo is also getting baptized on the 7th.
Victor and Cassandra are still doing their wedding papers.  They are making me bite my nails, but it looks like they will get baptized on the 7th as well instead of the 31st.
We also had some great experiences with new people this week that I think Elder Harrop’s going to have to baptize.  Samuel (who is a Lamanite, as he will find out) came to church from our invitation last week, but didn’t stay the whole hour. But this week, we taught him, and, when we went into his house, we saw this crazy historical library, primarily about Peruvian history.  He is a professional Peruvian historian.  He actually taught us more about Peruvian history in ten minutes than what I was able to learn in my two years. So, from my impressive deductive skills, I asked, “Do you like to read?”  I know—that’s why they pay me the big bucks.  He said yes, and we explained to him a little about the Book of Mormon and told him to add it to his collection.  He was actually excited.  He flipped through the pages and then said, “Ok, give me 3 days to read it.”  Our jaws just dropped.  That’ll be a first for me.  Too bad he works till late, because we will only see him next weekend.  But I’m excited for that too.
We are trying to get better in our ten finding ways so that it’s well established in this area by the time I leave.  We are having some fun with that, like knocking doors just to ask if we can sweep their porch.  But we’ll get better this week.
Don’t worry.  I'll get trunky later on.  Love you all!
Elder Johnson 

These are from a service project we had this week with the district.  The guy in the green is the other Elder Johnson in the ward.  (I told the ward that he's Elder Johnson flaco [skinny] and that I'm Elder Johnson guapo [handsome], so they can differentiate us now.)  The first picture was just kind of funny, because with the giant metal sticks that we were picking the hill with, I imitated Gandalff, saying, "You shall not pass!" and when I hit it in, it bounced onto my head.  Classy.  But the scab is gone now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Diet Starts Tomorrow

January 12, 2015

That’s what I keep saying to my companion and to the whole district.  On the first day of the transfer, I was set on doing a diet.  But that’s not happening any time soon. 

This week was great.  Crazy, but great.  Victor and Cassandra are doing great.  They will have all their paperwork ready this week to get married at the end of the month.  Victor also used to have a real drinking problem, and now he says that he really doesn’t feel any desires for it anymore.  They are really just great, and they will be the second member family in Campamento, which is a little neighborhood in our area.  It will be fun to see how the work grows in Campamento in the future.

We taught our first active Buddhists this week.  We talked to this family outside and they let us in.  The husband’s name is Nelson.  He said that he always went to church activities as a kid, and, as strange as this might sound in Peru, he said, "I would probably be a Mormon if I wasn’t a Buddhist."  I bet Davi never got to hear that on her mission.  I thought I never would.  We’ll see how he goes.

I'll just talk how I’m thinking right now.  We are banking on these people to get baptized this transfer:  The Castilla family, Victor and Cassandra (they're good), Esmeralda, Amanda, and Margarita Mendoza’s son.  Please pray for them.  Please pray for us to also find another family to baptize on the 7th of February. Don’t worry, I’m not trunky yet.  I can get trunky on the 8th.  I just don’t know how to think yet.  The work is a lot of fun, and we honestly run from appointment to appointment sometimes, but I just really want to take advantage of the time I have.  Don’t worry, Elder Harrop and I will.  He’s a good boy.

Love you all!  Make good choices!  Have fun in school again!

Elder Johnson

Monday, January 5, 2015

Great Place to Finish

January 5, 2015

Well, the transfers weren't a joke!  Yeeeesss!!   I am Elder Harrop's adopted dad here in Miramar 2.  Elder Harrop is great.  He is from Layton, Utah, is 19, can pitch 88 mph (but sorry, he's a Yankees fan) and has already learned Spanish quite well for being out for one transfer.  It is just perfect, because I wanted to be with an excited newbie that has high expectations, but he also has had enough time to where he has been able to get the hang of things. Elder Sarria, one of my first companions in the mission, is finishing this transfer as well and just so happens to be my district leader.  That's also pretty fun.  Our district is the biggest in the mission: six companionships.  Four of us are going to finish this transfer, and we are all in sixth gear. 

And my area, don’t even get me started on my area.  I love my area!  For those that understand Google maps, you will see that the ward is pretty huge.  We are in the northern tip of Lima, in the districts called Santa Rosa and Ancon.  The Miramar ward is all of Santa Rosa and Ancon put together.  My area is in Santa Rosa, and, (drum roll) it has the chapel!  It’s this beautiful new chapel that every single person in Santa Rosa has seen, and they all have this certain mysterious respect for the building.  People just naturally want to go to that place.  People here are also very humble and receptive.  It’s kind of strange, because I see a different kind of people here.  Even though most of them have to work far away from where they live, they prefer living there because it’s the first sign of quiet that you get in Lima.  So you get to see a type of very friendly people that just can’t take all of the noise of the world and are looking for some peace and quiet.  Doesn’t that sound like any missionary’s dream?

First off, Elder Harrop and his old companion were teaching Victor and Casandra for a while, and this week, they got their birth certificates and chose a day to get married and then get baptized!  Their baptismal date is for the 24th of January, so just pray for them in the meantime.  They are doing great.

Another nice experience we had this week was when we had to go to the bank as a zone in Puente Piedra, which is actually pretty far away.  While we were waiting in line, we said hi to the man in front of us and we started talking.  It turned out that the man, Juan Garcia, not only lived in our area that was so far away, but also that his adult daughter was a former investigator who went to church several times a few months back.  Juan is great, though we can only find him on weekends.  We taught him and he actually accepted a baptismal date as well.  The Lord really seems to know us, right?  He knows what we need, where we've been, and most importantly, where we're going.

Having a great time.  Love you!

Elder Johnson

Friday, January 2, 2015

Merry Christmas, You Filthy Animals!

December 29, 2014

Well, I was a little disappointed that you all had to see me in my gordo form.  Blast you, Papa John’s!  But Grant, Ami, and Corbin, you have grown a lot!  Not in the way I have grown, but still!

Christmas was a great time this year.  We found some people that let us come in on Christmas day, after the Skype session, that let us in because we said we had a Christmas gift for them (Book of Mormon) and that we just want to explain what it is before we leave it.  It was honestly a great holiday time.
Christmas Eve, however, at night, is like a war zone.  But it's beautiful.  It is, without exaggeration, millions of people in one city that save up money so that they can blow off professional fireworks off their roof all at once.  I personally like the tradition.

Ok, on news of the transfers, and remember that this is a privilege to know this a day beforehand...  I’m leaving the offices!  WOOHOO!  Ok, I'll be honest, I was really wanting to leave for my last transfer, not because I don't like the offices, but I didn’t feel like I was in 100% control of my area, and that just drove me crazy sometimes, if I can be perfectly honest.  There, I said it, ok!  The nice thing about being in the office is that I was always with a great companion that always thought the same way.  Easily the best part.

This is what's happening:  I’m going to Miramar, which is a ward in Ancon, which is the district on the very north tip of Lima.  It’s a very humble place that actually has a very strong ward.  In fact, the area presidency gave a transmission a few months ago on how to do a good ward council meeting, and Miramar was one of the wards that was used as an example in the training.  It's also a huge ward, which is part of the reason why the mission is opening up a fourth area in that ward this transfer.  I will be with Elder Harrop, a gringo that came in this last transfer and will finish his training with me.  Also, I could very easily lose 20 pounds in one transfer in the summer in Ancon.  I am so excited to go there for my last transfer, I can't even explain it.  The only thing I worry about now is if President is playing another joke on us, which he did to the office two times in a row when we had transfers.  He came in the office this morning, and said, "So, Elder Johnson, you want to know where you're really going?"  I told him that I won't fall for his mind tricks and that I'm excited to go to Miramar.  But, really, he is good with doing those mind tricks, so I'm still wondering.

Anyway, we already talked.  I'm all out of juice, so I just want to say that I love all of you!

Elder Johnson


...and a happy new yeah!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

White Santa!

December 22, 2014

Well, I guess I'll write something even though we'll talk on Christmas.  Que cargoso!  [What a pain!]  Anyway, speaking of Christmas, let’s get serious for a second.  The Skype thing is at 2 o’clock my time, so just double check that for gringo time.  But not g├╝ero time, because that term started from Mexico, Spencer.  Or maybe beck.  We got half an hour, and we were given instructions to not Skype any girlfriends, so just saying!  Sorry, ladies, but talk to the hand, en serio [seriously]!

I didn’t get as much time as I would have liked to proselyte this week.  We had a multi-zone Christmas conference, and I won’t complain about that.  That was pretty fun.  President showed a great perspective on how great the condescension of Jesus Christ really was.  Our district also got second place on our gingerbread house, even though I ate most of our raw materials.

Then we had to do some last-minute stuff on the rooms opening up in the mission, so I was, excuse my language, a little grumpy that day.  That is until the ward Christmas party that same night, when Bill showed up with his family, and, as promised, came in a Santa suit!  He honestly made the night.  Everyone, the kids and adults, all wanted their picture with white Santa that didn’t speak any Spanish.  In fact, I had to be his translator.  Pretty funny.  So, I have a picture with white Santa and the Covida missionaries.

We finally got the chance to teach Bill and his family a short lesson on Sunday and leave a Book of Mormon.  The language and religious barrier between the two of them (he’s a Baptist, she’s obviously a catholic) has left a strange kind of receptiveness in that house, so they will be coming to church next week!  The only difficulty will be having time to teach, but good stuff!

This week, we will be going with all of the members in our area to go caroling at their neighbors’ houses.  It’s strange, because although it really works well with a member present, it’s a new thing in this culture.  We have to explain what we want to do before we start singing.  It’s gonna be a great week!  Merry Christmas!

Elder Johnson