Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Davi - 7/29/13 email

Dude, This is the Best!

Ok, remember how we fasted for miracles?  It came in the form of Sister Schenk.  She is here to train me and Sister Arnold, and we are soooo grateful for her!  I looooove this trio so darn much.  I have not been happier.

The Ward!!  Y'all, it is the very best thing.  We get to see so much progress.  It is like a transformed ward! People come to us and ask if they can come with us.  And ask us what they can do more. And testify in Relief Society about missionary experiences.  They are catching the wave!!!!  It is so incredible. I think of all the miracles, that one might be the coolest.  

Well, maybe.  Because Sonny.  This is such a cool story, y’all. We have been teaching Sonny for like
 two-ish months, and he has been making slow progress.  He was pretty set on getting baptized on his birthday in October, but then we met with him on Saturday, and he had gotten this answer from Heavenly Father in an Edgar Allen Poe book (hey, whatever works) and we invited him for August tenth, and he accepted! Then we went to a baptism with him, realized there was a temple trip to San Diego for the ward on the tenth, and told him he could go on that trip and into the temple if he wanted to be baptized on the third instead.  So..... he said yes!  And then we said, that means you have to quit smoking - today.  So he got a beautiful blessing and agreed!  And has been so strong about it and went home and threw his cigs away!  He said he had some problems with question four on the interview questions, so hopefully that will get worked out.  But we are soooo excited!!!  Prayers please!

Then there's Ed!!  We have been meeting with him for about six weeks, and progression has been slow. But he is such a smart guy, and so ready to believe, but he just didn't quite get it.  But then we had this lesson with him on Thursday, and you could just see him letting the Spirit work in him, and he ended up saying that he shouldn't let other things take priority over finding God.  So he committed to reading and coming to church, and he did!!  We talked with him before church, and it was perfect!  He committed to baptism for August 17th!  He is going to change the world—I know it.  His potential is so out of this world. Watch out for him. He will be the tall dark and handsome one speaking in general conference in 40 years.  

Oh man ,no time!!  I want to tell you all about Cheese (government name is Jonathan), and Leyo the Fashionisto, and Mackenzie the cutest nine-year-old in the world, and Crazy Josh.  Next week, next week.  

Last thought: My toes look even freakier when the tops of my feet are so tan.

Love you all sooooooooo much!!!!!

Sister Johnson

Dalton - 7/29/13 email

Don't tell me you forgot Peruvian Independence Day again...

Don't worry.  At least I didn't forget that yesterday honors the independence of the greatest country in the west coast of South America.  I'm sorry if that sounded a little bold, so I will apologize to any Chileans that are currently reading.  Elder Bulacio and I even wore our matching red ties.  It was cute.

This week, we had our first interviews with President Archibald.  He is incredible.  The mission, including myself, needs to change.  I haven't felt like I've been answering the prayers of Enos and all of the prophets in the Book of Mormon with what I've been doing, even though that's what I've been trusted to do here.  Expect a change with the work in the following weeks, because that's what I'll do.

Something else that President Archibald did was add a new key indicator for us: number of less actives in sacrament meeting.  That's exactly what we need: baptisms every week and new less actives at church every Sunday, watching the confirmations.  Because, boy, there's a lot we can do with that indicator. President showed us the scripture of the Ammonites never falling away once they received the word, and essentially asked us, "Why should we not have the same expectations for their descendants?"  It's amazing what a fresh mission president can do to get your average missionary like myself to shape up and live up to his potential.  It's exciting!

We have two people getting baptized this Saturday!  Jhostin is finally going under the water, as well as Celinda, who had just the most surprising lesson on Saturday.  She had been coming to church with her sister, who is a recent convert, for a while, but just didn't seem too interested in baptism.  But, on Saturday, we essentially didn't have to teach anything.  She told us how she feels like a changed person, and everyone comments how she's so much calmer and kinder at work.  She said, "I think God's telling me to get baptized."  We taught the Word of Wisdom for less than a minute when she commented on how she hasn't been able to stand alcohol or coffee for the past couple of weeks.  What?  That was awesome.

I'm glad to hear that the stake is starting to shape up.  I really feel like Dad's call to stake president was just a precursor to this, because the Lord has trusted Joe and Jody Johnson to stick it out.  Way to go!  I'll try to be more like you all.  You have lives to live, and yet you're still great missionaries.  I have all day to do it.  Keep it up!  Love you!

Elder Johnson

Dalton - Bonus email

Message for Relief Society

[Note from Mom:  A woman in my ward, Crysti Murphy, was planning her lesson on Elder Nelson’s talk “Catch the Wave,” and she wanted to include the missionaries serving from our ward.  So she emailed all of them and asked them to write an experience that she could read to the class.  Here is what Dalton wrote:]

Just this week, we were tracting and met a man named Alexis.  He didn’t look the type that would be interested when we first saw him, but we shared the restoration in the few minutes we had.  His response surprised me.  He repeatedly thanked us, mentioning that he always saw the missionaries walk by but never felt like they’d have the opportunity to talk to him.  He said he was so happy that we finally knocked on his door.  Too often we look at the impossible, worse-case scenarios of sharing the gospel.  When we do that, we often forget the Alexises of the world, those who secretly wish they could learn more, even thought we don’t recognize it at a glance.

Elder Johnson

Monday, July 22, 2013

Davi - 7/22/13 email

Miracles Yo!

Oh man.  You sit down here and all of a sudden can't remember what you ate for breakfast this morning, much less what happened this week. 

Ann!!  We got Ann back!  What a miracle.  But, she got fired, so she is flying back to Nebraska on Friday. And we are incredibly heartbroken.  She was like, "Right when I had decided to get baptized here in the next couple weeks, they booked me a ticket."  Anyway, but she is totally converted and getting baptized, and the temple is her goal, so it doesn't matter where she goes.  We are so glad she is doing so well.  She said she is considering flying back when I get my visa so she can get baptized here and say bye.  Boy, that was about as easy to say no to as it is to say no to Donna Loveland's butt cake.  I've never done that, though, so I was unprepared and had to try not to cry.  She is the beautiful Asian making a weird face at me.

Sonny had such a breakthrough this week!!  He has read the Book of Mormon through twice, and is now starting to learn how to actually gain something from it.  He is so amazing!!  He is starting to believe that God can forgive him, and it's amazing how he is changing because of it.

We had this great lesson with 5 of our investigators and 7 members.  It was so cool.  Demitreus turned into a changed man!  We are so excited to see where he goes.

We are in the best ward in the northern hemisphere.  It is so cool to see the way the culture is starting to change!  Missionary work is becoming cool!  Ha, who would've thought?  We had this amazing ward FHE, and it seemed to be very effective.  People are really starting to catch the vision, and it's so exciting :)

We have to drop like 10 investigators.  This is a first for both of us.  Wish us luck!!
Oh!  We are getting a third companion!  Isn't that fun?  She is a transfer older than me, and she is from Austria!  We can't wait.  That means they are hoping my visa comes in this transfer, I think?  

There was a craaaazzy storm.  You will receive the picture of it.  We had a few investigators come to Pioneer Days, so we were all having such an enjoyable time.  You know how I love catastrophes?  Heavenly Father loves me and my companion so much that He flooded North Las Vegas in July :)

Heavenly Father is really trying to teach me to trust Him.  It's pathetic how I have to relearn this lesson over and over and over again, but I am so glad.  Trusting Him enough to put Him first in all situations because you know He will make up the rest if you do, and in trusting Him enough to keep all the rules because you know that His way is a lot better than yours and that He will prepare a way for you to do so, and in trusting Him enough to not be worried what hemisphere you are in because whichever you are in will definitely be the best one for you and those around you.  I try to remember every single day how much He loves me and what I mean to Him, and then I have to make a conscious effort to remember it, and then I can start to trust Him the way I should.  I know that the Savior not only can change the hearts of these people, but He also wants to so desperately.  We just have to let Him through us, and hope they let Him too.

Anyway, keep up the good work.  I love you all so much.  Thank you for sustaining me.  I wish blessings upon all y’all’s heads!  

Sister Johnson

Dalton - 7/22/13 email

You just got an email, you just got an email! You just got an email—I wonder who it's from?

That subject line is only to be read to the tune of the classic Blue's Clue's song, or it's not worthwhile.

Ok, important matter of business:  Dad said he didn't get the joke, so I'll give a translation:  Irse por las ramas is the phrase for "beat around the bush" in Spanish, but the exact translation is more like goes around the branches.  Feel free to shoot milk out your nose now.

Oh, and one more:  ¿Cual animal nunca empiece a leer libros con los primeras hojas?
--¡El Delfin!

Ok, that's it for now, at least that's even worth sharing.

Oh, that reminds me:  Elder Bulacio and I are starting an English class this week, but I don't want it to be super boring.  What are some popular word-play jokes that I've forgotten in English?

This week was a little tough, up until Sunday.  We found a lot of needed new investigators, and I feel good now about the number of potential priesthood holders that we're currently have in the investigator pool.  A surprising amount, really, when compared to the area book here.  That's a real answer to an awful lot of prayers, because that's what we need to help our ward.

I'm also finally starting to feel comfortable with following impressions in finding new people.  That has been something I've been praying for for an even longer time.

So, really, no complaints.  This week, we're planning on challenging a lot of people to marriage.  I'm still resisting the temptation to go tracting using only the law of chastity pamphlet, even though that would save quite a bit of time.

No complaints, really.  Our ward is planning an all-or-nothing ward activity to invite all of the less actives and nonmembers possible.  We're really excited for that.

We're really trying to teach the Plan of Salvation to the less actives here.  I think that can have a much more powerful effect on activity in the church than just teaching about Sabbath day observance, even though that's what most missionaries have done in the past. Because, I mean, every half-baked church in the world teaches some concept of that, but we're blessed to have a much more profound truth.  Just a thought.

Anyway, I don't have a ton of time today, cuz we're going to the zoo!  WOOHOO!

Love you all.

Elder Johnson

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Davi - 7/15/13 email

Watch yo back, Satan!

This week wascrazy!  As is this spacebar, my gosh!  [The rest of the email had tons of words stuck together, which was funny, but I decided to spare you the difficulty of reading and fix them for you.]

So we had some incredible experiences.  And some heartbreaking ones.  But it is so sweet that the Lord takes such good care of us even then.  

Ann and Charlie are being worked on so hard by Satan.  They are ignoring us now, all of a sudden. Satan messes with them, he messes with me, and Sister Arnold.  He picked the wrong girls to mess with. We have some big plans for this week, and miracles are going to happen.

Sister Arnold is the best!  We have so much fun working.  Love that southern girl!  I say y’all so much now.  And crave fried chicken.

Anyway, so there will be a great email next week.  Look forward to that :)

Life is so incredibly great.  Being a missionary is so amazing.  It gets better and better.  Because coming closer to the Lord makes everything better and better.

Love you all soooooo much:)
Sister Johnson

Dalton - 7/15/13 email

[Note from Mama J:  Sorry the blog update is late, but I just got back from girls' camp today.  So I didn't get to read these until today either.  But here you go!]

íFeliz Lunes!

Guess who remembered his camera!  We had two baptisms yesterday:  Mireya and her nine-year-old son, Ilyan.  It was nice.  Mireya has a very strong testimony, and we're excited for her.  It’s fun to see the change in people through the whole process. And, if you're in the mood for fun facts, baptismal fonts in Peru don't have hot water, you spoiled Americans, you.  ¡Jajajaja! Jk

I guess I'll slap the less serious stuff in the middle.  I ate the best piece cake of my entire life yesterday.
Oh man, I'd eat rice every day of my life for another slice of that cake.

Also, I've officially reached my climax of joke-making.  It worked well with both an Ecuadorian and an Argentine comp, so get ready:
¿Por qué los misioneros que no enseñan bien directo nunca estan en barrios fuertes?
--¡Porque ellos se van por las ramas!
Seriously, I should work for that "Uncle Art's Funland" section of the funnies.

I'm super excited for the fact that we have three couples that we're teaching.  One of them (Lucy and Idelson) we taught Saturday about temples, which made Idelson say that he would give anything to have that blessing in his life.  They said yes to getting married, which made the quieter 8-year-old daughter's mouth drop.  That was a lesson worth remembering.  We'll challenge for a date tomorrow.  Another couple is getting the challenge tonight.  I feel like a wedding planner sometimes, but I prefer that to never getting a family baptized.  Also, no worries, because our third couple is already married!  Woohoo!  Also, they have great taste in buying cake and a daughter that's already a member.  What more can I ask for?

I'm having a blast.  Pray for me, but don't worry about me.  Love you!

Elder Johnson

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Davi - 7/8/13 PS email

This is me and my comp at the temple.  We love the temple.  And missions.  And homemade rolls from the temple.  And laughing.  Oh, that was such a delightful day.  I am so grateful for the temple.  I have only become more grateful for it while I have been here.  It is the best place ever!

Love you!

Davi - 7/8/13 email

I Love Being a Black Missionary!

You know how there's a lot of black people here?  Well, we are teaching all of them.  Less than 15% of our investigators are white.  I would be lying if I said I didn't love that statistic.  I say, "I'm Sister Johnson," and these great people respond by saying, "Johnson?  We are Johnsons!  Come in and have some purple drink!"  We are anxiously awaiting the day we get invited in for fried chicken. 

The members here are so incredible!!!  Oh my gosh, it's the coolest thing.  We just discovered this thing called the 21-day promise  that was given to the members in the Las Vegas Mission.  If they write 10 names of people they know, and then pray morning and night for them by name, and read the specified verse as written on the sheet, and follow the promptings they receive, at least one of those people will be ready to receive the gospel either for the first time, or again if inactive.  How cool?!  So we commenced it, along with the fast for personal missionary experiences, and people proceeded to say how excited they were about it in front of everyone during the third hour of church.  

The feeling in this ward is so cool!!  It is becoming a missionary ward, and it's amazing to be a part of. The members seriously are the best.  I love them so dearly.  They take such good care of us, and are always anxious to help us.  We are doing all we can to get them excited about inviting their friends to things and stuff.  But yea, it would comfort my mother to know I have the people in this ward taking care of me.  Nicki and Lisa and Alycia and Jake and Billy and Tui and Colton and Dallin and Courtney and Kalli and Ciara.  Oh man, they are the best.  We want everyone to meet them.

Ann!!  Oh my gosh.  She is so incredible.  The hugest blessing ever.  She came to a lesson on Saturday telling us that she left the barbeque on the 4th (oh yea, the 4th was super fun!  barbeque at a member’s house for shishkabobs with three of our investigators) deciding that she's getting baptized.  How cool is that?!  We are so incredibly blessed to have met her.  She told us how grateful she was for us, and how happy she was that I didn't get my visa.  So she is getting baptized in Lake Mead as soon as she tells her family :)  The lesson with her was so power punch of the Spirit, it was awesome.

This lady came running out of her house yesterday to grab us and tell us she wanted to go to church.  We had given a card to her son, and she called us, and chased us down.  Can you believe that?  People are out there, and ready, and willing.  They just have to be given the option.

Derrik and Theran both have temple recommends now.  And they are so excited.  We had them at a lesson with us, and they impromptu testified of the temple and how excited they were to go.  And I just beamed like mad crazy.  They get it!!!!  They get it, team!!  They are converted!  And they both bore their testimonies in sacrament.  They are making this missionary so happy and proud :)

I love my companion.  She's a dream.  She's such a good missionary, and so devoted to the work, and so hilarious, and a great cook to boot.  Anyway, I am so grateful for her.  She's going to train next transfer probably, which is a bummer because I want to stay with her, but I have to share I guess.  

So I was thinking about something:  comfort vs. improving.  Because really comfortable is dangerous unless you are comfortable only in reaching.  I had to ask myself this morning, "Do I want to be better or do I want o be comfortable?"  And basically, what I want is to serve, and be the best tool in the Lord's hands I possibly can be.  So, that's the challenge.  Let's all be ok trying to find growth as opposed to comfort.  As Sister Elaine S. Dalton once told me, "Do not avoid trials, for that is where we truly grow." (love name-dropping)

Anyway, I love you all.  I love being a missionary.  I love my companion.  I love my family and friends.  I love Las Vegas and when it makes sweat drip down places you didn't know sweated.  I love the people we get to meet every day and especially the people we get to see more than once.  Most of all, I love the Lord who is so incredibly patient with me and loving and good.  He is in the details of my life.  So thank you for the prayers.  I know without them, I wouldn't be having the experience I am.  So thanks.  I love you.  For real.  A lot.

Sister Johnson

Dalton - 7/8/13 email

Chistes, Anyone?  [Jokes, Anyone?]

Ok, I'll be honest.  You get to a certain point and your language study starts becoming incredibly ineffective.  So, I figured out a new trick.  Find puns.  Ok, buckle up:
-He probado una fruta que debe ser oro.  (¿Por que?)
---¡Porque plata-no!

Ok, ok, stop crying, because here's another:
-¿Porque parece que todos las chicas tramposas siempre dicen de todos las cosas que hay que hacer?
---¡Porque ellas son listas!

I know.  That one may have been a little too upper-crusty for you middle-class citizens to understand, but lista is the word for both clever AND list.  Man, I'm hilarious sometimes.

And hey, I remembered the keys today.

President Archibald is officially our new mission president.  He and his wife are great.  His wife actually doesn't speak Spanish and has a thick southern accent, but served a mission in England and got 40 baptisms.  I didn't know someone could do that there.

During our conference with President Archibald, he mentioned that during his training, President Monson specifically gave him advice.  He told President Archibald that retention/reactivation and baptism aren't designed to be mutually exclusive efforts.  I felt like that was specifically told for me, because that was something that really had been troubling me.  So that was nice.

Okay, we're pretty excited for our two baptisms on Saturday.  Jhostin is one.  He's 14 and can be baptized by either his brother or his uncle.  It's been really cool seeing his progress.  The other is Mireya, who is giving up coffee, but is super great.

Jerson and Patricia will be investigators for a longer time, but come on, they'll get baptized.  Getting people married does take patience, but is worth it.  I want to see some people sealed while I'm here! They're a lot of fun, too.  It's nice to have people like that to make you believe that the Lord even prepares your tracting efforts.

We're starting to see a change with our ward council.  We apologized in our correlation meeting for not focusing enough on the salvation of people and asked what we could do to help more.  They really trust us more now, too, because we saw 10 inactives in sacrament meeting.  I'll be honest, it was more than we were imagining, too.  This is a lot of fun.

Yeah, I think that's it.  I totally forgot about the Fourth of July.  I'm sorry, homeland.

I love you and hope you’re all doing well.

Elder Johnson

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Davi - 7/1/13 email

What a Week!

This week!!  Oh boy, this week.  The weeks get shorter and shorter.  I'm pretty sure that's because we are living every day like it's our last in the 118-degree weather.  We could cook at any moment!!  Dramatic, maybe.  But you weren't the one scared for your life!

People have been succumbing to the great and spacious building this week.  It is heartbreaking to realize that people reject you because you represent their Savior.  He really does feel pain for these people.  So I just want to work like crazy to make Him not have to hurt more than necessary.  

But, we had a few really huge blessings this week!!  Sonny is one.  He had that amazing experience at Institute, which made him feel like he could keep going even if his family was against it.  And then, when we went over there on Tuesday, his best friend was there and sat in with us.  And then, fancy this, his other best friend happened to come by while we were there, and he sat in too!  Sonny was able to bear his testimony about the Book of Mormon to his best friends, and he proceeded to explain how grateful he was that his "brothers" were with him and not against him.  So they are all progressing now!  And Sonny has a date!  We just need to make sure they wake up for church forever onward....

And we found Ann!!  Well, we actually did nothing, to be frank.  She came to church.  And we accosted her.  She has had two baptismal dates in the past, but backed out both times.  She moved here a few weeks ago from Virginia to nanny.  So we gave a brief, don't give up! lesson, focusing on Alma 5:26 tied into a Harry Potter analogy (think patronus and dementor).  She is an angel.  She then came to a fireside, and said she wanted to discuss a date for baptism next lesson.  How cool is that?  I just felt this connection to her immediately.  We aren't used to teaching females.  It's fun!  And she is so incredible. We are already incredible friends.

So, Charlie.  Did you know (probably not, because I didn't) that Charlie took a vacation day last week to come to church.  Can you even believe that?  He is so incredible.  He couldn't get work off again this week, so we are praying nonstop for him, because it is literally the only thing keeping him from baptism.
Ooo, so we had a lovely little lesson on Saturday.  One of our members was (we think) on some fierce energy drink stuff, and was totally insane haha.  She started talking about the Word of Wisdom (we were talking about scriptures) and then proceeded to try to explain it, over one member talking to one of the investigators about how herbal tea is of the devil, and then the other member was bonding with the other investigator over how fun drinking is on New Year's.  Haha oh, it was good.  

Not to fool you, our members are awesome.  We love them so dearly.  This ward is such a dream.

Yes, I still don't know about my visa, but don't worry, because I'm not.  God's got it.  I really do want to go to Peru still.  There are times when I feel more than happy to stay here forever, but then I read my Spanish scriptures, or read about how my whole MTC district is now there, or all the people who came here with me waiting for their visas are now gone, and I feel homesick for a place I've never been.  But for the most part, I just know that Heavenly Father loves me lots and lots and lots and will make the best thing happen.

Oh, challenge.  Be yourself.  You have to be you before you can help anyway else be them.  How's that :)
Sorry, I'm slacking.  But we are in need of some serious fried chicken.

Love my comp and her southerinity.

Ok, love you!  Y'all are the best!!!

Sister Davi

Dalton - 7/1/13 email


I noticed how Davi writes a challenge-of-the-week thing, so I thought I might give it a try:  This week, I hereby challenge everyone to not lock yourself out of your apartment.  I know you're probably all thinking "What?  Dalton locking himself out of his apartment?  That is so not like him.  I'm worried."  I know.  The mission can really change people.  So yeah, that explains why I was maybe 20 minutes late in writing this.

It's actually a little bit colder than I thought it would be right now, so I might buy a sweater today if my pride let's me.  Oh, and I got that thing of cookies and family photos this past week.  So thanks!  I can really plow through those things.

Oh yeah, my companion is getting rabies shots.  Please, please, please don’t freak out about that.  He's one of the very few people ever in this mission to get bitten by a dog, even though there are several billion of them in Lima.  Dogs here are generally more chilled out here.  Anyway, I tell you this because he goes to the clinic, which is pretty far away, once a week and has two more shots to go.  It's a double-edged sword, because we lose good proselyting time, but also puts us into close proximity to KFC.  No complaints.  Also, there was a scale there.  I think I've lost 20 kilos on my mission, or somewhere between 40 and 50 pounds.  But that was before the KFC.

Ok, serious.  Elder Bulacio and I have been talking about the issue of retention, and we have come to realize that we as missionaries too often look for the low-hanging fruit for baptism that don't stand a good chance for lasting conversion.  We have been looking for families, and specifically for priesthood holders. That's not low-hanging fruit for two main reasons:  a lot of the men here are accustomed to working longer than 12-hour days (once you include commute), and the majority of families here are unmarried. However, we decided that the ward needs more in order to withstand retention and the number of members in the ward in general.  We are seeing some really exciting prospects from that.  We found Jerson and Patricia from just tracting, and they are stellar.  After teaching the plan of salvation and the principle of eternal families, they opened up to how they've been thinking about marriage for a while. Carlos and Ayde Flores haven't had a lot of time lately, but are the parents of one of our recent converts. Ayde even was crying at Karolay's baptism.  Nilo works nights and is unmarried, but the rest of his family are members and want to come back to church.  We are super excited for that.  Also, Mireya is quitting coffee, but that is her only struggle.  She's gotten her answer and wants this for her kids as well.  A lot to be excited about.

Whew.  Salvation is not a cheap experience, but I'm so grateful to be a part of it, and to have a companion who is looking for the same end with investigators.  I'm having a good time here.  Thanks for your prayers.

Elder Johnson