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 güero 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

It's beginning to look a lot like sweating on your upper lip that never happens in Nevada

December 15, 2014

It is a little strange to see how some Christmas traditions transfer from the states to here, even though they totally shouldn’t.  Some people have decorations with snow, and I am bracing myself for the classic treat of paneton with steaming hot chocolate, which is honestly very tasty, but not something someone wants after a December day here.  But whatever, Friday I will be having some for the ward Christmas party.  Remember Bill, the guy I mentioned went to the Christmas devotional?  I think he's going to be the Santa.  That will be pretty funny to have a Papa Noel that doesn’t speak a lick of Spanish.

Speaking of gringos, you will never believe this:  We contacted another gringo in our area named Mike.  He married a Peruvian in the states, and retired to live here.  Guess where he lived for 10 years:  Sparks, Nevada.  It was weird, like I had followed them all the way down here.  Just to explain, Los Olivos isn’t exactly the place in Lima to see a lot of gringos.  The richer part where a lot of Americans are is in the Lima Central Mission, like San Isidro or Miraflores.  (I’m sure these places will only sound familiar to Davi, and even that’s a maybe.)  This is just strange.

The Lord is giving us some great opportunities this week:  First, tonight we are going to teach to referrals that we got out of nowhere.  One of them, Jose Antonio, had talked with us on Saturday and said that he really wants to have a clean slate and has listened to the missionaries about 2 years ago.  We are really excited for that today.

Another example:  After going to a faraway appointment that fell through, we were feeling a little down.  We went to the bishop’s house to give back the chapel key that we wouldn’t need after all, and we asked the bishop what we could do to help.  He mentioned a family that moved back into the ward whose father is very less active.  When we passed by on Sunday, the wife seemed very wanting to share the gospel with her distant family (and it seems like she has a lot of them).  We'll be there tomorrow.  

Also, Efrain Carasas accepted the invitation to come to church out of nowhere.  (He's an investigator we were honestly only teaching because he was a member referral and the member always sets the appointments.  He wasn’t really anyone that was progressing in the lessons.)   We were just dumbstruck after that lesson, because we honestly weren't too optimistic.  And it’s not like it’s because we're so great at teaching.  It’s just because something seems to have told him to.

It’s just kind of funny.  After working and working and working, something great generally falls out of the sky.  It's like someone's looking after us, noticing that we're working hard and just having a batting slump, so then in His love gives a couple of softballs to help us feel of worth.  Not like we are any better, just that the Lord decides to help someone that wants to help and just doesn’t do it that well.  Everyone goes into the MTC thinking that they are doing this great service and that we are hot stuff, but then there comes a point where you realize that it’s really the opposite.  We don’t really have a lot to offer, but Someone a lot better than us has called us to serve because He wants us to feel like an important part of His work, though in the end it’s Him that really makes it all work out.  It’s fun to see it all sometimes.

Love you all!  Don’t get too fat on paneton and mantequilla!

Elder Johnson

Monday, December 15, 2014

Angel Birthday Boy!

December 8, 2014

I'm old now.  My bunions have been aching ever since I turned 21.  Well, not really, but I must say, I had some good birthday presents this week:

First, Ricardo accepted a baptismal date for the 3rd of November.  He's a great guy that I feel like I contacted forever ago.  Really, months ago.  We were really sad, Elder Feller and I, when we were never able to get a hold of him.  But I gave him a call two weeks ago out of nowhere, and he told us to come by.  He's the one that lived in Virginia for a long time and got addicted to sunflower seeds when he was there.  He gives us sunflower seeds every time we stop by.  Anyway, we had a really sweet lesson about the Book of Mormon, and he mentioned that he felt really good about everything we were teaching, even though he had a hard time explaining it.  I’m really glad that we now have a good hold of a really busy guy.

Second, Sister Archibald’s cookies.  Wow.

Third, the Christmas fireside was great for two reasons: 
1.  Jean, our convert from a few months ago, went to the fireside in a suit with his member girlfriend who lives in the center of Lima.  He isn’t telling us anything, but that boy has found his exaltation.
2.  Our gringo showed up!  Bill must be the only man in Los Olivos that can’t speak a lick of Spanish, and we just so happened to contact him last Sunday.  Just to explain a bit about him, he lives here because he married a Peruvian, he's in his fifties, has a mustache, is a Baptist, and teaches English in San Isidro.  He’s just the last person I would have expected to meet here, but there we go.  We weren't able to get the chance to teach him yet for his work schedule, but he did mention last week that he sees the MoTab Christmas devotional every year, so we just had to invite him.  He was more just reading lips during the whole thing rather than translating, but he did pretty well.  I started cracking up when President Eyring was giving the story about the lady that moved to Nevada.  Right when he said that someone knocked on her door, he turned to me and said, "Avon!"  It was a good time, and he offered even to be Santa in the ward Christmas party.  That would just be a blast.

The Quiñones family got a good Sabbath day lesson this week. They had a last minute thing, but I am just certain about this week!  Dante even said he wants to quit soccer.  I love that Dante.

Anyway, it was my birthday on Friday, so the district is going to do the lunch buffet in Telepizza again.  Because I'm worth it, ok! ...The diet starts tomorrow.

Love you all!

Elder Johnson
 [This photo was sent to us by another missionary who works in the office.  It was a surprise for us, and apparently a surprise for Dalton as well.  Anyway, here is Dalton's explanation of this photo:]
Ok, honestly, sometimes I dance in the offices while we are listening to churchy music.  That picture was honestly from this morning, though I didn’t think he would send it out.  But yeah, I actually dance in the offices a lot.  And when there are sisters in the offices, I go into a closet where the sisters can’t see, only the office missionaries can see me, and I start dancing.  But it’s church approved!

 Dalton said:  "Check it out!  I found my full name!"

Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy Turkey Day... or Chicken and Rice Day

December 1, 2014

Sorry if what I write this week isn't exactly literary genius.  I'm pretty tired from doing the numbers last night and passing out on the office’s couch.  Good times.

Ok, Thanksgiving actually was Thanksgiving here.  I won't lie, it was pretty nice.  The Archibalds invited the offices over for thanksgiving dinner, and it was almost as good as your cooking, Mom!  The gringos just wanted to cry when we had real mashed potatoes and everything.  We had completely forgotten.  It was kind of funny, because Elder Fierro’s dad used to be mission president in the Lima South mission, so when we went to President’s house in San Isidro, Elder Fierro said, "Hey, I lived two floors up from this." Weird.  And San Isidro is pretty close by our mission, but it is a different world than our part of Lima.  It doesn't even seem like the same city.  Maybe I'll send pictures one of these days...

The week went pretty well.  We honestly didn't get as much time for proselyting as we would have liked, but that's pretty normal because Elder Fierro was just getting used to his job in the offices.  On the upside, though, I have figured out how to do baptismal records!  I think that this is my punishment for not having done a lot with indexing before my mission, because there are some missionaries that write worse than any census scribe from 1910.  I mean, wow.  Another exciting thing (depending on what you all consider exciting, because I think it is) is that the Excels I made are now officially being used for a new key indicator for the mission to track the progress of less actives and new converts! I know, exciting, right?

Anyway, our area.  I mentioned in a few letters about a man named Johnny who is a friend of one of the stake’s counselors and who we dropped last week.  It seems like our meeting this man by our tracting efforts has really been able to motivate President Rojas.  We have met several referrals of his since then that we are going to teach this week.

Last Sunday, I felt this strange desire to call all of the contacts on my phone (many of whom were just there before and I didn’t know) and in the end, we were finally able to contact and later teach Ricardo, a contact we had a long time ago who happens to be the only Peruvian I’ve met with a sunflower seed addiction.  I think he will come this next Sunday.

One of our best contacts this week is named Bill.  He teaches English here, is from New Jersey, married a Peruvian lady, and moved here a couple of years ago.  His Spanish is terrible.  It was great, because not only did we get their info, but Bill also gave me a news update that you all never give me.  [What?!]  He's also a big MoTab fan.

The "He is the Gift" campaign is something that the missionary department is taking very seriously.  It's been right up there in effectiveness as free balloons.  It's the perfect time of year to share the gospel, because it seems like everyone is looking for something more this time of year that they never seem to find.  So go out and help them find it!  Go to http://www.mormon.org/christmas

Love you all!
Elder Johnson

Monday, November 24, 2014

Just Getting the Next Step

Well, I think I mentioned this last week, but we had transfers.  Elder Feller got transferred to, if anyone cares, the Trebol stake.  I know, THE Trebol stake.  I am now with Elder Fierro, who was in Huaraz as his last area.  Huaraz is the place that every missionary wants to go to sometime in their mission, because it's beautiful.  Then when they get to Lima, they remember that the city has about the same amount of plant life as Elko does.  I, for one, would take Lima any day.  Anyway, Elder Fierro.  He's from Ecuador, but has lived in Southern Lima with his family since he was about 12 because his father was called as mission president of the Lima South mission at that time.  He has 18 months in the mission and speaks about perfect English.  It's fun being with him because we have been good mission buddies for a long time and now we are finally comps.

I saw something very interesting this week.  It was a training meeting in the area about how a ward council should work.  The great part was that 2 of the 3 examples were from our mission!  There was even a split second where I saw the little retention sheet I had made, and I just wanted to say, "That's what I'm talking about!"  No big deal.

Well, I will just say that Elder Fierro had a bad week to become health secretary.  Just a busy week for him to start and figure everything out, so we had a lot of time in the offices, but I think that everything is calming down a bit.  But, we did have the opportunity to teach the Quiñones family again.  That's the family of the lady whose daughter died.  I'll give a low-down of what we plan on doing this week with them.  The Quiñones have two kids, Dante, who is 10, and Danna, who is 5.  They seriously love us.  And Dante is actually pretty impressive.  He has been the one to push his family to read the Book of Mormon on a regular basis.  It's hard to get a lot of opportunities to teach because of their schedules, but they are great.  Here's the real difficulty for the family: Dante is in a soccer tournament amongst the best teams in Lima, because his team recently won on the district level.  Bad thing?  They only play basically on Sundays.  I don't know if anyone has ever had the Sabbath day object lesson with ice cream, hot dogs, and the toppings you can put on it, but that's what we'll do this week.  We're going to do it tomorrow, kind of a do-or-die lesson.

We also had a do-or-die lesson with Johnny Morales.  It ended up being a die.  In short terms, I was not called to answer questions, but to help sincere people find salvation.  Finding answers to those questions requires a sacrifice on one's part, certain steps to take, or the answers will never be found.  It's a lot more meaningful to find out that way.  I imagine sometimes that little Dante will be able to say in the future to his kids how important it was for him to give up something he liked for something he needed.  Those are the kind of people we are still looking for.  It's a lot of fun looking for them.

I'm glad you're all doing well!  Love you all!

Elder Johnson

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It’s That Time of Transfer Again

November 17, 2014

Well, I will say that it's a little weird to write you all right after seeing all of the transfers.  Unless President Archibald is playing another practical joke on the offices again (I don't think so, because that would be three transfers straight), Elder Feller is leaving the offices.  I was really bummed to see it, because we had all gotten to the point to where we assumed that he would just stay there forever.  But whatever.  The Trebol zone needs him badly.  Also, the other good news is that my new companion is going to be great, Elder Fierro.  He's from Surco, the southern part of Lima, and he speaks even better English than Elder Feller.  So, we're going to have a good time here still.

On another note, I can't believe I forgot to tell you all last week.  I just passed one of the most embarrassing moments of my life about a week and a half ago.  One night I had to go to the offices to do the mission newsletter.  It was about ten o’clock, and one of the missionaries, Elder Aldana, left out the front door to go to the room on the second floor.  About 10 minutes later, I heard someone fiddling with his keys just outside the door, and I thought "wow, I'm gonna get Elder Aldana good."  I hid behind the door to scare him the way Spencer always scared me, and I ended up doing a pretty good scare.  The only problem was that it wasn't Elder Aldana at the door.  It was President Archibald.  Elder Feller said that it was probably the funniest thing he has ever seen on his mission.  I gave an awkward apology a while later, but he just laughed and said, "Don't worry about it.  I have ten kids."

Anyway, this week was very interesting.  Elder Feller and I have been finding more than ever this transfer, but we hadn't had a single person come to church.  We fasted for a miracle on Saturday, and it came.  On Friday, we gave a balloon animal to a little girl named Faviola (don't worry, she was with her parents).  We invited them to accompany us to church, and they accepted.  The surprise was that they were actually waiting for us Sunday morning to come with us.  We finally had a whole family come to church with us!  The great part was seeing the members come up to greet them.  They were so excited to see a new family.  The ward just needs to see a few more new faces of families and then they will be able to understand missionary work.  Bringing single people honestly doesn’t give the same effect.

There are a few other families that I think can do that trick.  This week, we were passing by an investigator’s house who kind of seemed to be avoiding us, and instead we talked to her sister’s family.  In the end, they accepted the invitation to do a 20-minute Family Home Evening right then and there.  It was honestly one of the sweetest things in the whole world.  We just have this classic FHE plan, and it was great.  We shared the scripture about praying with your families, and they admitted that in their ten years of marriage, they had never done a full family prayer before.  So they had their first one at the end.  Then we played telephone and another quick game (I thought the little girl was going to die laughing), and then the mom admitted that she didn’t remember having played a game as a family before.  Then we said "Well, now you will every week, right?" Before leaving, all four of them asked when we can come back.  I think they will come next week.  It's just the strangest thing in the world, because some of the most spiritual experiences I have felt is while teaching a family how to do a dumb game together.  You can just feel how the Lord feels towards those families.

Alfonso has a family that we want to attend church this week, and there was this great contact of a Cuban guy yesterday.  They all show real potential to progress, along with the family that came to church on Sunday, the Palominos.  The real struggle is getting people to church, but I think this is the week.  It will be stake conference, and a Seventy is coming to talk, so it will be the perfect opportunity.  I just need you to pray for them to come to church.  If they can come to church, they can get it all done. I really think that this is the week.

Sorry for boring you, but it's amazing how it just occupies my mind 24/7.  It's hard to be trunky when there are just great people here to be thinking about.  I love this so much.  I just know that there are whole families that want to make this covenant before I go home, and it’s like I've been learning my whole mission for these last few months. 

Loving life.  This week's going to be great. 
Thanks for always praying for me—I can always feel it. 
Love you all!
Elder Johnson

The Difference Between “is” and “was”

November 10, 2014

This week was just a good time.  I think that's how I started last email, but whatever.  It's true.  And sorry about writing late.  There was a short power outage in Los Olivos, so we couldn't write in the morning.
I'll just mention a couple of the best people we found last week.  First, we started tracting again in Covida, the richer part of our area.  Elder Feller said that we should tract the Chimbote street, because we both have met nice missionaries from that city.  Can't argue with that logic, so we went.  A lot of pretty bad rejections, but towards the end of the street, the man came out and said, even before we asked if we could come by "hey, tell you what. Come by on Friday at 7:30, because the whole family will be there.  We have kind of been looking for a church."  Elder Feller had some good logic.  The husband and wife are Johnny and Rubi Morales.  Johnny always had a question about the fall of Adam, so that was the first time ever I left 2 Nephi 2 as their first commitment.  Rubi, as it turns out, is a member who got baptized when she was 12 but really has never gone as an adult.  They have two kids.  They are seriously a beautiful family.  So yeah, pray for the Morales family.

Next is Erica and her family.  We met her when we passed by Alfredo's house.  Alfredo is an old guy that we contacted the same day as Johnny.  We passed by the house, not even to visit him, when we saw him at his door talking to Erica.  She stopped us when she said, "hey, I was just asking about you two!  Two of you gave me a blessing when I was in my friend’s house in southern Lima, and I was trying since then to find missionaries where I live, but Fredito (Alfredo) said he already knows you.  When can you visit me?"  It turns out that her daughter had died a month before in a car accident.  When we talked with her a few days later, she really enjoyed the lesson.  I heard her say a few times when we were all talking, saying the phrase, "she was my daughter."  I told her "I will give you a suggestion.  You will be tempted to say 'she was my daughter.'  Don't do that.  Say 'she is my daughter.'  We just want to explain why today."  We have a lesson with all of her family tonight (siblings and their families).  It was a great experience.

On a lighter note, we have another FHE with a member family tonight.  We said that we would just invite personally some of their neighbors too.  In the end, we invited the whole block, like 40 families.  We then passed by the member's house to confirm the appointment, when the question came out.  He said, "Well, how many people are coming?  You didn't invite the whole block, did you?"  And then he laughed, and Elder Feller and I kind of looked at each other and gave an awkward smile.  I just didn't know what to say.  We'll see how many people will actually come.  But it was pretty funny.

Anyway, please pray for them.  They are so great.  Love you all!

Elder Johnson

Halloween Finding for White Christmas [white, as in baptismal clothes]

November 3, 2014

This week was some pretty good times.  The six of us in the offices are working like dogs, really.  It’s the best.  I've finally gotten to the point where we can get all of our office work done, eat lunch, and leave at 3 every day to proselyte the rest of the day, even on district meeting days and weekly planning days.  Sorry, language study.

People here tell me that trick or treating here is a newer tradition, or at least is only recently gaining popularity.  It shows, because everyone just yells "Halloween!" at the door.  That's exactly what Elder Feller and I yelled at the doors on the 31st.  Then we said something like "Yeah, we're just dressed up as missionaries, hahaha!  Anyway, you want some candy?"  People really get sucked in with our lemon drops.  Don't they know not to take candy from strangers?

The two of us really set a super high goal for new investigators last week, so we kept talking about what to do and where to go.  I felt the nudge a couple of times to really contact well Comite 8 [a neighborhood] of Mercurio, which is not something we would normally contact because it’s in the boonies of our area.  When I say the boonies of our area, I mean to say the stratosphere.  Going there this week was a great experience.  We honestly have never been received so well in any other place in our area.  We have also encountered a part-member family (the less active’s name is Santiago) as well as several former investigators.   The real shocking part is that there are also many married people in that part, which, by first glance, wouldn’t have been our bet.  It's interesting that something so simple has been giving us exactly what we have been praying for for a long time. 

A couple of other things we tried this week:  Setting up a family home evening with less actives, then invite the whole entire neighborhood to the family home evening.  The one yesterday fell through, but we have an FHE with Andres and his family tonight from that.  We'll try that one out this week again.  Also, we are almost always doing FHE for the first lesson with families, and even when not with families, promise to be there 10 minutes, then stop what you're teaching no matter what to respect the 10 minutes.  If they want to know more, they are free to tell us to stay.  That has really helped a lot.

And don't even get me started on the 25-minute closing prayer that one of our new investigators gave.  We couldn't even walk afterwards, our knees hurt so bad.

Anyway, I'm just trying to say that it was a great week, and I'm really glad to be with the other office guys.  December is going to be the best month of our missions!

Glad to know everyone’s doing well.
Love you!

Elder Johnson

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Finding Methods

October 27, 2014

Well, this week started out great.  Elder Feller and I were on some official business outside of the mission on Monday (really) and we got to buy Burger King.  Those two Whoppers got me through the week.  Elder Feller and I have been trying to test out our mission president’s challenge to use 10 finding methods every week.  I've already mentioned some finding methods from the last weeks, but here are some we used last week:

1.  Street caricatures.  We found an older lady named Ruth that way whose son was a member, but died a couple of years ago.  I actually made a drawing of her and of her son, by request.  We have an appointment tomorrow with the whole family.  In fact, when we visited the house a couple of days ago, she said that her neighbors are talking about "the gringo that makes free caricatures."  The funny thing about this way is that everyone wants a caricature, but no one wants to be the first to do it.  It always takes us 15 minutes of nothing at first, but when someone is brave enough to do it, there is immediately a line.

2.  Family history.  We used that on Tuesday with a man named Isidor.  He just so happened to be on the street with his great-grandkids, and when we explained it, he showed us his house—a huge house, where he and his six children live.  His six children with their FAMILIES.  We met one of his sons yesterday, a great guy, and it was interesting, because he told us that two of his brothers died a long time ago.

3.  Giving out Liahonas on the street.

4.  Dropping my pen.  That's one of the few ways I feel like I can contact when passing by the market.  There are just so many people that I don’t know what to do.  So I drop my pen and hope the people behind are kind enough to tap my back.  Then I talk about how dumb I am, etc.

5.  Unknown addresses.  We try to look in this black hole list that the area gives us of members that have apparently moved away.  We contact the old house, then we contact all of their neighbors, as though we're lost.

6.  Asking for directions.  I noticed when Elder Feller and I did divisions that I need to do that every five seconds anyway.

7.  Sitting separated while on the bus.  We had a new investigator on Sunday named Ernesto who I met on the bus.  He accepted the invitation for the 29th of November, so we'll see.  The nice thing there is that we always have to use the bus to get from the offices to our area.

8.  The survey.  This is just tracting, but the door approach is that we are doing this important 3-question survey that we need help with.  The three questions:  Have you heard that Jesus Christ visited the Americas personally?, Have you heard of living prophets and apostles?, and Have you ever heard that your family can be eternal?

9.  Trying to milk referrals out of the whole world

10.  The balloon animals.  It’s incredible how that just stops a family in their tracks.  The majority of the families we contacted was that way, because in the market they sell 50 balloons for 7 soles.  The worth of a soul, right?  Anyway, we get a lot of appointments that way, including the family of a less-active member we would not have found otherwise.

It was a very fun, yet very tiring week.  There will be a lot of fruits this week, so I am very excited for that.  Keep praying for us, and keep praying for us to find families.

Love you all!

Elder Johnson

Overcoming My Addictions

October 20, 2014

Ok, just to let everyone know, Elder Feller is doing very well.  Thanks for your prayers.  The news just kind of came out of nowhere, like at the end of our time on the computers, so sorry if that seemed abrupt in the last email.  But it’s obvious that he's really been blessed this week.

Just a little thing from this week.  I'm not sure if I mentioned Govinda before, but he's a former investigator that has read up until Alma in the Book of Mormon, but never got baptized because he could never get over an addiction.  We taught him last Sunday for the first time and set a game plan that we would call him every night at exactly 10:30 (which is when he really needs the phone call) and that he would pray out loud from now on and read the scriptures.  I also made my promise that I would give up junk food for him.  I'm not going to lie to you, I realize now how serious my problem is as well.  Someone in the ward on Sunday gave us dulce de leche candies from Argentina, and I thought I was going to hurt someone, I was so mad I couldn't eat it.  I will confess that I did fall in when less actives handed us Sprite, I just drank it.  And there was banana cake in district meeting from one of the sisters.  But the populace voted that the banana cake wasn't going against anything, so Govinda doesn't have to know about that one.  I did confess to him the Sprite incident, however.

But, guess what?  He went five days without consuming, which is miraculous, according to one of the missionaries that was there before.  We feel pretty confident that this week is going to be his week.  He is preparing for the 22nd of November, so I'm hiding away the dulce de leche for that day. 

And honestly, this is the most motivated I've been on my whole mission.  I really feel like I'm in my element in how we're working and the missionaries I'm with.  I'm really happy, although we also feel the challenge.

Yeah, you are right about preparing for the mission.  It's just like Elder Cook said, that most of us just expect that showing up to our mission is sufficient, and boy, it's really not. 

Yes, other things happened as well this week, but I feel like I'm writing everyone individually this week, so basta [enough].

Love you all!  Make good choices!

Elder Johnson

PS - Oh, and everyone in the newbies group knows Brandon Leyva.  Elder Welburn said, and I quote, "He's a boss."

Happy Belated Conference

October 13, 2014

Happy Belated Conference

Ok, transfers were on Tuesday.  It was pretty funny.  President Archibald played a practical joke on the assistants.  The transfer board he showed us in the morning on Monday showed that one of the assistants was getting transferred, which was true, but showed the incorrect place he was going, as well as the replacement assistant.  President told me the real transfers to me and had me present the PowerPoint during the transfers meeting, something the assistants normally did.  It was pretty funny.  He got them pretty good.

Loved conference!  I'm sure you all have already forgotten that it ever happened, but I loved seeing it this weekend.  Let me just say, it was absolutely beautiful hearing native Spanish on the pulpit.  It was strange, because I'm not even a native Spanish speaker, but when he started speaking and there was no dubbed translation, I just started looking around and smiled.  It was a feeling of importance, feeling like the Lord hasn't forgotten us.  It was absolutely beautiful.  But, of course, when his talk ended, Elder Feller and I calmly left the sacrament meeting room and then ran upstairs to hear Elder Holland's talk in English.  Hey, we needed the whole experience.

Also, forgot to tell you, but just a funny note from conference, I was acting a little childish during the afternoon session on Sunday, because a few people didn’t show up.  So it was that weird grumpy feeling at conference that only a full-time missionary can experience, and then out of nowhere, we were forced to sing "Count your Blessings."  I laughed right out loud.  Great conference.

Also, loved the Peanuts endorsement during priesthood session.  Classic.

I'll just explain a little bit more about Roberto, Doris, and Gonzalo Garnique.  We've been trying our hardest to stay in personal contact on a daily basis with them.  They didn't make it to conference this week for some unforeseen problems, but we told them yesterday that to make up for not coming, they have to watch one talk per day with us in their little copy shop.  We saw president Uchtdorf's talk yesterday, and even Gonzalo dropped his phone at the end and started watching.  Gonzalo might end up being the difficult one, which is weird, being the 15-year-old son.  They are really people that are just ready.  Even though our meeting seems like it may have been coincidence, you must admit that it's a little strange that when I went to save Roberto's number this week, I saw on my phone that it was an old contact from one of the previous missionaries here that taught him just once or twice a long time ago.  They are going to get baptized, I know it.

I was going to write more, but Elder Feller just now informed me that his father just died.  Please pray for him.


Johnson, the Inactive

October 6, 2014

Well, I hope you all enjoyed conference, because there's something I forgot to tell all of you:  I didn't see conference.  Yesterday was voting day in Peru, so we couldn't have church meetings.  President told us that we should watch conference for the first time next week with our investigators, so that will just kill me this week in the offices.  I did hear about that, though, about the general authorities speaking in their native languages.  That'll be fun to see.  Those seventies are powerhouses in their native tongue, like whenever Elder Uceda [Juan Uceda of the Seventy] speaks here.  But yeah, it was really weird studying and street contacting on Sunday morning.  It was like, oh, this is what the rest of Peru does on Sunday morning.  I'd honestly never seen it til now.

We are really happy with how the week turned out.  I'm not sure if I had mentioned this before, but about a week or two ago, we found a man named Roberto while buying a sketchbook to do street caricatures.  We mostly just talked and laughed with him.  Afterwards, my companion realized that he left his Book of Mormon there.  The next day when we passed my, Roberto gave it back and we told him that if he wanted, he could have one for his own.  He surprised us saying that he already owned one.  He was taught once or twice by the missionaries in January, but never again.  Anyway, this week we were able to teach the whole family.  I won't get into details on the lesson, but he told us that his oldest son died in January from Leukemia.  It was one of the sweetest experiences I've ever had to be able to explain to them about eternal families.  Perhaps the sweetest.  It's just something I won't be able to describe well, so I won't.  But it was nice.

We also are going to teach a man that lived in Virginia for about 8 years and speaks great English.  My companion speaks great English as well, so we just hit it off on the street.  We have an appointment for today, so we'll see if we can talk to him and his 14-year-old son.

So, there we go.  Transfers are tomorrow, so I sure hope I don't mess up that PowerPoint.  I can barely make it not telling absolutely the whole world where everyone is being transferred to.  But, I'm staying with Elder Feller. That's the important part for me.  And, if anyone is making the list for people to pray for, go for Angelica, the Garnique family, Ricardo, and the Rojas family.

Glad to know everything is going well.  Love you!

Elder Johnson

Right When You Feel Like Quitting

September 29, 2014

We had another great week.  Only had one day this week with this emergency email that came in, saying that the area has no record of the mission's historical report for 2013 and that the area presidency needs it RIGHT NOW.  I made the announcement in the office right there that we were going to eat at the Telepizza buffet for lunch.  14 slices of pizza later and I calmed right down.  Then it really wasn't that bad.  It was like studying for a pretty easy final.  We only got 1 hour of proselyting in that day, but I did learn that I can write pretty good essays in Spanish.

But really, that was the only out of the ordinary thing.  When something weird like that doesn't happen, we have time to proselyte every day from 4 o’clock on.  That includes us doing our studies, district meetings, weekly planning and so on, so that's really not too much time we end up losing.

(Does it seem like Elder Johnson has an effect on the other elders?  Except for the elder at far right.)

We have been working pretty hard to get this area on its feet.  Aside from Jean, the area really didn't have any investigators, and has had as well a surprising lack of baptisms compared to the rest of Lima. (Outside of Lima is a different story altogether, with its whole set of advantages and disadvantages.  As for me, I'd take Lima.)  We have done some new silly ways to contact, including the latest, which is a door-to-door religious survey.  We ask them 3 questions:  Did you know that Jesus Christ visited the Americas, did you know that there are prophets and apostles today, and did you know that your family can be eternal?  Then, you get a candy for participating.  That was a good one.  

One day when tracting, we found this guy named Claude, who is one of the few Peruvians I have ever met that has a smoking problem.  Anyway, he likes to read and is going to read the Book of Mormon.  In the meantime, I started a diet for him, just to see if I could give up my addictions to help him.  The diet is to not buy food between meals, so Telepizza buffet is fair game.

Honestly, we got up til Saturday and when our many appointments starting falling through, I started to feel a little disappointed.  But then we went and had our first lesson with Angelica, who went to church with a member the week before.  She is ready.  She has listened to the missionaries before, but now she says that she really wants to try it out now.  She has a date for the 25th, and we have another appointment tonight.  It's funny sometimes how we work and fight all week to get something, and on Saturday night, right when you think no one new is going to progress this week, the Lord gives us a softball.

As for me, I will honestly tell you that I love it here.  I love you guys a lot, but I honestly don't like the idea of ending my mission.  I actually was on my bed one night, very sad that my mission isn't going to last that much longer.  I really love doing this, and I feel like something's really changed.

Having a good time.  Love you all and whatever.

Elder Johnson