Thursday, November 21, 2013

Davi - Talk to me, Homes


What a week!

We had cambios [transfers], and I got transferred!  To this day, I have had a different comp every single cambio. I think it’s probably because Heavenly Father doesn’t want to put anyone through the misery of being with me 24/7 for longer than that.  My new comp is named Hna Gomez also.  Perfect.  I don’t have to do that embarrassing saying your last comp’s name in the prayer instead of the current one.  That feels like calling your new boyfriend your last boyfriend’s name.  They never forgive you.

I am in an area called Talara.  It is about two hours out of Piura.  We travel by bus for our intercambios [exchanges] now, three hours to Tumbes, and two to Piura.  And we return to our casa at like 7 because the hermanas here have gotten accosted so many times.  So like, it is possible that I will die of not being in lessons, but hey, maybe I needed a heck of a lot of study time or something.  Because heaven knows I wouldn’t have been able to finish Jesus the Cristo en Español if not.  

I left that dear sweet area one week before Karolina and Socorro are getting baptized, two weeks before Katherin and Carlos and Korayma are getting baptized, and three weeks before Nikol and Bertha.  I think Dalt said he came into his area reaping success.  I think I paid that due for you mister, so you are welcome.  No really, it is just cool that I got to be a part of that ward transforming and progressing together.  I really do love them.

When I was on an intercambio, this white guy came up to me and was like, please tell me you speak English.  I was like, yea, talk to me homes.  His wife is Peruvian, and he was visiting family with her, but he missed home so bad.  I guess other elders had given him a Book of Mormon, and he had been reading it.  He had these questions written in it, and it was so sweet.  We talked, and he was a recovering alcoholic from Connecticut, wanting to change his life forever because he hates living in fear of going back.  After our brief discussion, he offered one of the sweetest prayers I have heard in my whole life, and immediately embraced me in this huge hug.  My comp got him off me, but it was darling all the same.  We had some really incredible experiences this week, finding people who really are ready.  It’s so cool that when you feel like your heart is in pieces because so many people are not choosing happiness, Heavenly Father lets you see something beautiful like that.  

It is amazing what God does for us, isn´t it?  All of the opportunities that we have, all of the help that we don’t see and can’t thank Him for properly, just everything.  Like really, I shouldn’t need to be receiving so much.  I am here to try to help Him.  But He is my Daddy.  And like my Daddy on Earth, He just wants so desperately for me to be happy.  

I know this is all true.  Following it brings joy.  That’s why I am here.

Hermana J

Dalton - Life-Changing Stuff

Hey, world!  Don’t think I'm missing you like a drooly mess, because guess what I just found out!  That's right, there's a store here in my area that sells both peanut butter and Dr Pepper!  I haven’t bought it yet, but I don’t think it will make me trunky.  Just to be safe, I won’t eat or drink any of that while reading the dating section of "For the Strength of Youth."  I don’t even know why I have that kind of poison in my room.
And hey, say hi back to Newby Dooby Doo [Amie Newberry, a wonderful creative writing teacher that Davi and Dalton both had].  (Not to be confused with my companion, Rubi Dooby Doo.)  She's the best.

And oh boy!  Ok, this Saturday, we had Joel's baptism.  He's nine years old and is the son of Ana, a lady that we helped reactivate.  During the baptismal service of her son, we asked her if she would like to bear her testimony, to which she accepted.  She told everyone with tears in her eyes that her life has changed in these past few weeks, even though she had been baptized years back.  She mentioned how she feels a peace in her life and her home that she hadn’t felt for a long time and that she's here to stay this time.

After that experience the same day, we went over to Javier, the 19-year-old that got baptized the previous week. After teaching the Plan of Salvation to him again, I asked him the question that might be my favorite question to ask at this point:  "So, how do you feel now compared to before your baptism?"  It was almost as though he had just realized right in that moment when he said with a smile and a sigh:  "A lot better."

What topped that day off for me was in the night, when we had a Family Home Evening with our pensionist's family [pensionist means the person who does their cooking and laundry] and her less-acitve cousin named Jose Luis, along with his nonmember wife Rosa.  After watching a video with them, I felt the need to explain to the two of them the experiences we had earlier that day with Javier and Ana, to show that the gospel changes lives almost without us realizing it, and that this change can happen more than once.  We challenged them to read the Book of Mormon, and then Jose Luis stopped us and started to cry.  He couldn’t stop crying.  I cried with him when he said that he misses this, that he has never doubted that this is true, that he wants his family to be eternal and that he knows that his four-year-old daughter needs this foundation in her life, the foundation that he sees in the daughter of our pensionist, Mireya.  He even told us that the moment Mireya called him to invite him, he had a feeling overwhelm him to where he knew that that night would be a turning point in his life.  He promised that he will come back to the church and that he's willing to help Rosa know that it's true, too.  I can’t fully describe how I felt there.  It was one of the strongest feelings I've had, even in this country.

Anyway, we're doing well.  The ward here is getting excited to do missionary work, and I'm really glad that the work is doing the same over there.  I'm excited to just be able to jump on the already moving train when I get back.

Love you all.  No, but really!

Elder Johnson

[PS - Last week I made the incorrect assumption about why Dalton's email was titled "Working the Pedro Beltran."  As you can see on the plaque in the photo here, the name of his barrio, or neighborhood, is Pedro Beltran.  So he was just talking about working that neighborhood.]

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Davi - How Fun is That?


Oh man, you know what is freaky?  That I have been out for eight months.  What the heck?  And that I have only been here for three ha.  

Rachel is pregnant!!!  Yay!  Just got the letter.  Excited to meet the little thing.  Thanks for sending me letters, Rachel.  A general apology for never writing back.  I haven’t sent a single letter while I have been here.  I have no idea how it works to do so.  And I kind of like having that excuse, so.....  lo siento.  [Sorry.]

Ok, I really love my comp.  Just a quick sidenote.  I looove her.  She is so darling and patient and good to me. We are totally different, but are kind of becoming each other.  I am so grateful for her.  I love her more every day. My little Hermana Gomez.

The family Maza Ramos all came to church!  It so was crazy!  They are inactive, and recently the dad has been willing to meet with us.  But he really doesn’t have a testimony of who God is, much less that the Church is true. So we have been working with them, and we kind of thought that we had a really long way to go with them before they would come to church, but they all came!!!  All six of them, with their hair combed!  I saw them walking in, and I started like screaming at my companion, and she thought that I was hurt or that the building was on fire, but when she saw them too, we both just stood together in shock and tried to greet them and move our jaws that were glued to the floor.  Seriously, that was the coolest.  

Had an intercambio [exchange] with the little sister of one of my best friends.  How fun is that?  Hna Boone, sis de Laura Boone.  

We just had so many miracles this week, y’all!  All of these people came to church.  Sort of randomly. And our ward is becoming so much more a ward!!  They are having activities, and they love each other, and they are participating so much more too!  I just, oh, I love them.  We had an FHE con YSA last night, and challenged each of them to have a baptism before the year’s end.  They were all like stoked about it. Beforehand, my comp was like, I don’t like this age—you’ve got this lesson.  Haha she’s so funny. Members really do want to participate.  They just don’t know how.  I feel like more than anything, we are here to help train other people to be missionaries.  Then the joy of the work is so much more.  So many more get to participate. 

I think I finally, for the first time in my whole mission, don’t feel like a total greenie.  Still like whoa, I am such a retard, but like hey.  Better.  

Man, I love this Gospel.  It is superdy duper true.  I feel it more every day.  It’s so weird.  Like I have never felt this sure about anything in my whole life.  And it just gets surer and surer.  This rock really is a rock.  It is solid and makes everything more true, and make sense.  The only thing that doesn’t make sense is that people wouldn’t want it.  I hope everyone can give it a chance.  Because every single person I see here, I want to have it.  That means every person in the U.S. too.  If someone is reading this who doesn’t quite understand some of the terms, or maybe doesn’t know why I feel so happy being away from everything that others think makes people happy, please email me.  Or my mom.  Or go to and start chatting with the missionaries.  Please.  If only because I am asking you too, and because you know that I wouldn’t ask you do anything that wasn’t because I love you.  Thank you.  Because really, I love you.

Thanks for all the prayers, y’all.  My ward is benefiting hugely from them.  Sometimes I wonder how in the world they are progressing so well, and then I remember all of the incredible people I have who pray for me and my people.  Thank you.  It means everything to me.

Hna J

Dalton - Working the Pedro Beltran


Hey mom!  I got the  I did have to go to Serpost to get it  (bomp bomp ba bom berrr… Price is Right trombone music).  I think it’s because the watch costs a little bit more money.  I did, fortunately, make it out alive.   Didn’t have to pay fees, so that was nice.  I was eating away my frustration with all of those cookies until I put on the watch.  I’m all good now.  It’s a very slick watch.  Thank you!

Ok, there are 3 pictures to please the fans.  The first is from our baptism on Saturday!  His name is Javier and he is a shy 19-year-old that wants to serve a mission.  He’s a good boy.  

The second picture was my parting gift to Elder Sarria.  Caricatures are easier than messages.  

The last is evidence that I should never cut my own hair.  No worries.  The picture from the baptism is the most recent, and my hair looks lovely there.

Oh man, I feel so blessed to be in this ward.  Ventanilla is basically the northern tip of Lima.  A lot of receptive people live here.  To boot, there are enough active priesthood holders here to have a functional ward.  Receptiveness and a solid ward together is something that I didn’t know could come together. Elder Rubi and I decided this week that in this area, there is no reason why we shouldn’t reach the standard of excellence every week.  That way of thinking is changing my very nature.  It’s a lot of fun.  Elder Rubi is a very humble and hard worker that is looking to improve as well, which is just allowing us to go to town.  Honestly, this was one of the best weeks of my life, because I now see the potential I have on my mission.

Oh, and Davi, we are teaching a 21-year-old that was receiving the lessons in Piura a month ago.  His name is Giancarlos, and he was living by the comiseria de San Martin. [Maybe he means comisaria, which, according to Google Translate, means commissioner.]  He said he was being taught by a huge white guy and a short Latino.  Any guesses?  Anyway, if you find them, tell them thanks and that we are going to baptize him soon.  Man, Piura missionaries are so nice, right, Davi?

Also, we are teaching a kid named Abrahan from Italy.  He’s getting baptized in 2 weeks.  It’s cool teaching someone that started learning Spanish a year ago too.  He also knows everything.  We started teaching about the priesthood and then he started explaining the difference between Aaronic and Melchezidek priesthood before we even taught it.  Man, we're good!

Oh, also, people sell churros filled with caramel on the streets here.  It has effectively ruined my life.

Anyway, I’m having a blast here.  Keep it up in Vegas!  Sorry, but I tell everyone that I’m from Vegas.  [Spencer commented here that, even in Washington DC, nobody had heard of Reno, but everyone knows where Vegas is.]

Elder Johnson

[Curious about Dalton's heading?  Me too.  So I consulted Google.  Pedro Baltran was a Peruvian economist, diplomat, and publisher whose brief term as prime minister and minister of finance (1959-61) stabilized the Peruvian economy. Knowing Dalton, he would appreciate a guy like that.  He must be referring to how glad he was not to pay a fee to pick up his package from Serpost.]

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Davi - Working Booties Off and Seeing Miracles


Oh man, forgot to comment last week on how cool it is that Loren is mission pres!  So awesome!!  [I have to add something here.  Loren's comment about Davi and Dalton is he hopes he gets 250 just like them.]

Guess what!  Elder Nelson is coming to Peru!  Not to Piura though.  So, roadtrip!  We are going to Chiclayo!  It’s like a three-hour drive, but we are so excited!  The whole mission is going to see him!  And it’s a missionary only thang.  Whatup.

So among my long list of talents (like choosing the most expensive of things without even knowing the prices... oh that’s all) is finding people who are super ready for the gospel…  who don’t live in our area. And inviting people who are already members to baptism.  Atta girl.  The thing is though on that last one that they accept.....  I think that’s the talent part.

But besides that, we are just seeing miracles.  We have kind of just been working our booties off and being rejected like crazy, but this weekend was amazing.  The ward is totally changing!  People were coming up to us, telling us about their missionary ideas.  And people asking when they can come with us.  And we have this new greenie ss pres who is hecka gung ho.  I’m so HAPPY.  [Did she mean RS pres?  Raise your hand if you’re confused.]

We found someone named Jose Isidro.  I had been praying for someone who would argue with us.  And was studying the Bible in preparation.  Then we got someone :)  He reminds me of my sweet Theran, who was all arguey at first, and then the Book of Mormon and the Spirit softened him right up.  We were walking by, and said hi how are you and he just was like, why are there so many churches?  And I knew. How wonderful, yea?

We were walking and there was this girl outside, and before we even got to her, she yelled through the window of the house, “Oh Elena, someone’s looking for you!”  And quickly explained that she is a member in a different ward but was here visiting a friend. And we had a lesson with them.  She’s awesome.

Another girl, se llama Yurico who is 19, we found yesterday.  And when we told her about Joseph Smith, she was like, really?  That happened?  And she was just in awe!  Oh man.

Katherin came to church!  So proud of her.  She is so great.  She mentions baptism every lesson, before we say anything about it, and lets us know how she is doing on the decision.  She just, gets it!  It’s so great.

Struggling a bit with fams of people never letting us see them.  Leopoldo, grandpa de Gean Carlo, and the sister of Socorro.  If we could get some prayers up in the hizzouse that would be great.  

Anyway, more than anything, I am just suuuuuper happy.  Like, there’s no better place to be.  I love these people.  I love my ward.  I love Spanish.  I love chifles.  I love the Gospel and the way it changes lives.  I love being able to work alongside the Lord every day and have confidence in His love and dedication.  It’s super true, y’all.  Nothing more to it.  It makes sense on every page, and feels so super duper right every time I talk about it.  Like, yes!  You know?  Yes!  

Anyway, love you all.  Just remember that God loves you so dearly, yea?  D and C 61:36.  [Here it is, so you don’t have to look it up:  And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your  midst, and I have not  forsaken you.”]

Hna Johnson

Dalton - Joe Jock, Mohawk!


Hey, family.  I just want the world to know that I learned an important lesson last P-day:  It is definitely better to get someone to cut your hair than to do it yourself.  I mean, when I did it the front looked good, but the back did have several craters.  The lady in the hair-cutting place, whatever that’s called in English, did fix it up.  But I was called, as a natural consequence, Elder Hitler in the district meeting.  However, I am happy to report that it has improved since then.  I actually think the cut has a rather slimming effect.

(I’m sorry, Mom, but I’m also kind of an idiot with uploading photos.)

[Mom here.  You're all probably wondering what "Joe Jock Mohawk" means.  My husband, Joe, told our kids about how his mom used to cut his hair when he was in high school.  Apparently once or twice she ended up doing one of those maneuvers where one side was shorter than the other, so she'd cut the other side more, and so on until his hair was... well, let's just call it unfashionably short.  So the cool kids with the long hair gave him the nickname of Joe Jock Mohawk. Honestly, I don't know how they still thought they were cool after making up that up]

Hmm..what else......umm....oh yeah!  I’M IN MY SECOND AREA!  That’s what Daddy´s talking about!  I’m in the Ventanilla stake, in the Pedro Beltran ward.  My new companion is a 26-year-old named Elder Rubí from Costa Rica.  I’m not going to lie, I haven’t been so excited since I started my mission.  The ward is very supportive, and I came into the area just in time to reap the harvest, so I kind of feel like a jerk for that.  (Sorry, Elder Narvaez.  Hope you have fun in Los Olivos.)  It’s like the Lord was saying to me, Ok buddy, you’ve been a good boy.  I´ll let you go to Ventanilla.

Javier is 19 years old and is going to get baptized this Saturday.  He wants to serve a mission and is evidence of how a good ward can really change the lives of people.

There’s also a lot of less actives here.  That just makes my mouth water.  I’m so excited for that.

Oh, we also have cell phones now.  I feel like such a zone leader.

Well, I’m sorry that that was a little scattered, but that’s kind of how I am right now.  This is just my third day here.

Anyway, love you all.  Stay in school!

Elder Johnson

Friday, November 1, 2013

Davi - Thanks for titling my emails. Ain’t nobody got time to think of clever titles.


Hi, y’all!

Man, time is like literally flying.  It’s starting to freak me out.  

I can’t believe the missionaries don’t talk to people at activities.  That’s the only reason they should go. Oh man, Dad—you are a dream come true of a church leader.  It would be such a privilege working under your leadership.

I started crying when I read that about Sparks Middle school [the shooting that took place on Oct 21st].  I can’t believe it.  I will pray for them.  The world is in so much sadness.  We have the truth and the happiness, y’all!!!! Please just give it a chance.  

This week, one of my favorite moments was when this little girl who I wave to when she plays in the dirt just ran up to me and gave me this huge hug and didn’t let go for a while, and then just kept running. Children really can tell who we represent here.  It’s beautiful.  

We met some people this week who are way staunch—and I am so excited about.  We had some powerhouse 20-minute lessons with a couple of staunch people where the Spirit just testified.  It’s cool when we teach people with strong spirits, because it seems like the Spirit comes in stronger to match it.

We had two amazing intercambios [exchanges] this week.  I love the sisters in the mission.  I am learning so much from the examples of them and their areas.  It is so cool and humbling being with them and learning from them.  Hard, and I love it so much.

Brag moment - Saturday, one person asked if I was from Colombia, and another if I was from Spain.  No one this week asked me which state in the U.S. I was from.  Boom!  But I avoid situations in which I have to use subjunctive tense, so when I quit being a baby and start challenging myself again, the questions will come back. But it’s just cool how much help I have received.  

Some people really broke my heart this week.  It’s incredible what I am learning.  How to give your heart completely and wholly and know that maybe it will get handed back to you broken.  But hey, that’s what Christ did.  When He was carrying the cross, the very people who He was paying the sins of were spitting on Him.  But He didn’t stop loving.  Never.  He never gave less.  Its incredible, isn’t it?  I love Him so much.  And it is such a privilege to work with Him.

Love you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And i loooooooove being a missionary!

Hermana J

Dalton - Paish mais grande du mundo!


Paish mais grande du mundo!  [“Greatest country in the world,” spoken with a Portuguese accent]

Are you kidding me?  Uncle Loren gets to speak Spanish with marbles in his mouth for 3 years?  [Dalton is referring to how he and Spencer think Portuguese sounds.  That also explains the title of the email.]  I’m so proud of him.  He'll be so good as mission pres.  Whip those slacker missionaries into shape, Loren!  Be sure to tell me which mission it is when you find out.  [My brother Loren just found out he’ll be a mission president starting next July, and it will probably be somewhere in Brazil.]

Elder Sarria and I are exhausted this week.  President Archibald changed our ward boundaries to make the two areas in our ward more successful.  He told us to make finding new rooms in the center of the area a priority. And you know how you find out if someone is renting out a room?  You walk!  Who does he think we are, missionaries?  But, in our interview, he told me that looking for a new room is a great finding activity.  As a result, we now have in our teaching pool one of the few agnostic people in the country.  Man, that was a real rush.  I mean, we're dusting off that portion in chapter 10 in Preach My Gospel that gives tips on how to teach non-Christians.  Before Felipe, I figured that in Latino America, reading that portion is about as an effective use of personal study as is reading the book of Deuteronomy.  Yeah, I’m excited for that.  And, we finally found a room yesterday.  The lady has been denying the room from people but let us check it out because she's had good experiences in the past with the church.  That's what I’m talking about!

We also found a few more less actives, which includes 4 people that have committed to come to church next Sunday.  They also said they have some people that could listen to the missionaries.  Why are we leaving that part of the area?  No, that’s fine.  The sisters will know what to do with them.

Oh, and I’m still waiting on that package.  But don’t you dare think I’m going to complain about Serpost being slow, because those folks at Serpost are doing a fine job.  Keep up the good work!

Yeah, that’s it for now.  Hey, I love you all and whatever.

Elder Johnson