Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Davi - The Parable of the Broken Foot

February 24, 2014

The Parable of the Broken Foot

I have learned so much this week, it’s incredible.  The lesson I feel like I have learned is that of repentance. What it feels like, the process, why we should do it, everything.  The scripture in 3 Nefi 9:13 makes so much sense to me now.  I felt like I needed healing, and not because of some horrible sin I had committed, but I just felt like I needed healing in general, from the pains that come in this life to help us understand things better.  It’s like your foot got run over by a car.  Not self-inflicted, but doesn’t matter, you have to get better.  So do you say, “But I didn’t do this, so I refuse to go to a doctor”?  Not going to Christ for healing of things that aren’t what we think of as sins, is like not going to a doctor when we have an injury that wasn’t self-inflicted.  It doesn’t make any sense. Whatever it was that happened, we have to get better.  And yea, we might have to do some things differently to get better, but that’s the point, isn’t it?  That you get better, not what caused it.  So, we have to repent.  All the time.  We have to ask how to be healed, we have to go to Christ with what we have and get better.

We waved to this old lady a few times—I think I touched her arm as I walked by—and as it turns out, it is the mom of a member.  The member told me that she has fiercely rejected the missionaries for years, but that she asked him about us, because she liked our way of being.  How great is that?  To the shock of everyone, she let us in, and we had a lesson with her.  The jaws of her 12 children literally dropped as she smiled at us and invited us for lunch.  Cool what friendliness does, right?

Guisselle is doing great.  Tuesday we had the chastity lesson with her, and she said, “What do I do?” And we said, “We don’t know.  But you are holding God’s advice in your hands.  Ask Him, and read it.”  We went by the next day, and she very happily told us that she is dumping him, because it is what God wants her to do.  I love that woman.  They all came to church this week, and talk about their baptism all the time.

[I told Davi about a recent convert here in our stake who has become a member of our family, and here is what Davi said:]  Veronica sounds incredible.  I cannot wait to meet her :)  Tell her I love her please.  And am honestly so impressed that she gets the temple like that, because that means she is a spiritual being who understood the plan before, and is just remembering it now.  Tell her that when I am out at BYU that she will need to come visit me to do baptisms with me in Salt Lake, and so she can see the lights at Christmas.   

I am just so happy.  I am convinced more and more, that really, we can’t do anything right if we don’t understand that God is our daddy, and he loves us.  As my daddy on earth told me this week, he can hardly talk about me without crying because he loves me so much and is so proud of me.  Can you imagine how much more my Heavenly Father feels about me?  Anyway, I love being loved by Him.  He loves you too :) remember it.

Hermana J

Dalton - Small and Simple Things

February 24, 2014

Small and Simple Things

I love hearing all the great things that are happening back home.  I'm glad everything is going well.

Yeah, I'm doing all right here.  Honestly, we had a few pretty tough days during the week, but Sunday made everything better.  We had our eternal investigators show up to church, Julio and Mirella.  We had been fasting for a miracle for them, because we were just about out of ideas for them committing to a date.  As it turned out, Pres. Alvarado from the mission presidency came to the branch for sacrament meeting, though he wasn't on the program to speak.  After all of the speakers were done, he abruptly stood up and said that he felt impressed to speak to any of those that might be investigating the church. He explained that we lived for an eternity before birth, and will live for an eternity after death, and that this life is comparatively a grain of sand on the beach of Barranca.  He finished by saying, "Let's not waste our time."  It was powerful, and it changed my view on the law of the fast.

We also talked to Amado, the guy from last week, as well as Jose and Beatriz.  They all need to get married, so we shared Alma 37:6 and said that getting your birth certificate is the next step in your salvation.  (You need your birth certificate to get married, and those certificates just so happen to be far away for these folks.)  They all accepted!  It's such a simple thing, but they are now showing repentance.

We're really excited to be here.  This is a lot of fun, and there are times when I look back at things that happen and wonder if it would have worked that way if it wasn't for your prayers. Thanks.

Also, no cell phone for two more weeks…  (Price is Right trombone music).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ytCEuuW2_A  [Dalton’s really good at making that sound himself, so I thought he would like it if you could hear it.]

Love you all!

Elder Johnson 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Davi - The Miracle of the Bathroom

February 17, 2014

The Miracle of the Bathroom

So, hey!

Guisselle isn’t married....  whu whuuuu. [I think that’s supposed to be that trombone sound of getting an answer wrong.]  And her man has another wife and family, and she only comes every other week or so. But hey, the gospel changes lives, right?  Also, her mom hates us.  But!  Listen to this.  We had a lesson with her and her two kids and her 15-year-old nephew Fernando, and we watched half of the hour-long Joseph Smith movie.  And it was this totally beautiful lesson with testimony and yea.  Just, totally gorgeous.  And afterward, we were talking a little bit, and Fernando was just like, “I LOVED that.”  Gosh, I love that age!  (Yea Jamie, now I am saying I love your age :) )  [Private joke there—For years, every time Davi would say she dislikes kids of a certain age, it would happen to be however old Jamie was at the time.  Until now!  Yay!]  And we saw them yesterday and Fernando was asking us about the video, wanting to know if he could watch it again. haha.  He said that when we had stopped it, he was like, NO!  And when we asked why, he said, “I just… I felt like it brought me light.”  How beautiful is that?  I LOVE hearing how people describe the Spirit.

Also, another really cool thing.  There is this family who [I would like to change that to “whom,” but that would not be Davi’s style, so I’m leaving it]  I love with my WHOLE heart, members of the branch, but some aren’t active, and some not exactly living the commandments.  But they are terrific.  The fam Coronado Vinces.  And we have had some lessons with them, and it always seems to end up in us talking about temples.  Well, this week, the mom of them all, who has been a member like more than 20 years, isn’t endowed but is worthy to go.  She’s just been scared.  Well, last night, she said, “I am setting a date to go to the temple.”  AAHHH!!!  I think I scared them with my yelp of excitement.  How cool is that???!!!  

Haha Dalt just told me that he doesn’t have a phone… not that he lost it or anything.  That’s so funny.  I love that kid.  Also, just so everyone knows, I found his wife.  Looks like I have got all my siblings covered.  You’re welcome!

I literally can’t remember anything else from my week.  I have been pretty sick again, but it always seems like when I need a bathroom, there happens to be one magically.  So that’s a huge blessing, because we can work normally. And we get Jell-o and stuff when we go into a member’s house and have to ask to use one.  And this is the only way I don’t eat, so I am losing weight again.  There are a lot of perks.

I just, I really know God is real. More, I know His love is real.  I KNOW it.  Sometimes I put myself in positions where I don’t feel it, but I know it.  I feel like that is testimony.  Knowing when you are being stupid and for one reason or another not feeling it.  But, I am 10 all the time.  [Don’t worry—explanation follows.]  My old comp called me (she had permission from the Pres) and told me, “I understand what you meant when you said 10.  (One time I was explaining in a lesson that the times when we feel His love most, those are “10” moments.  And we know He loves us.  But then, other times, we only feel like 4.  But does that mean he only loves us 4?  No.  He always loves us even more than the 10 we feel on great days. )  Isn’t that great?  He loves us more than 10, y’all.  I know He does.  

Love you!  Keep up the great work!
Hermana J

Dalton - I'm All Out of Subject Lines

February 17, 2014

I'm All Out of Subject Lines

Hey, everyone.

I guess I should tell you more about what Paramonga is like.  It's actually an industrial town, with a giant sugar factory and sugar fields.  That's why the town actually does pretty well, even though it's a small town outside of Lima.  Our branch mission leader is named Julio, who has just the slightest mental handicap, but is just the best and is honestly willing to accompany us all day.

Elder Peña is really helping me with my Spanish, because he was studying translation before his mission. He corrects me all the time on my accent, because I have just gotten so lazy on that.

This branch is just so close to becoming a ward.  I just can’t stop thinking about it.  That's what motivates us to talk to every family we see on the street, even though we are practicing the whole "act natural" thing.  It's just such a strange thing.  It's such a perfect circumstance that we just can't resist.

I think I already told you about the couple we found last week while we were in our pensionist’s restaurant. They are Amado and Giovanna, and they are really progressing.  Giovanna is the less active, but it's Amado that's really pumped to learn about everything.  They have a five-year-old named Ronaldo, and he is a hilarious nightmare.

I was fasting for a miracle on Saturday.  We had some disappointments, and I felt like it was continuing during the fast, especially because we thought that Giovanna and Amado weren't going to show up to church.  Then, during the third hour, they showed up!  The class was on strengthening the family, they felt welcome there, and Ronaldo even liked his class.  I realized that my fast had been answered when I looked at Amado after the meeting.  He was looking at the book that Ronaldo had colored, looked at how his hyperactive boy was enjoying himself, and he smiled as though he saw something magic.  That was enough for me.

Love you all!  Keep up the good work!

Elder Johnson

Monday, February 10, 2014

Davi - Some things never change... but some do!

February 10, 2014

Some things never change… but some do!

Still in Talara. Don’t worry, even though la Mavis (our member bestie) had a dream that I was going to leave too. And my companion is not named hna Gomez again, but yes, is another Guatemalteca [female Guatemalan]. She is itsy bitsy tiny, but a little powerhouse.  She has one cambio [transfer] more than me, and is totally on it. We had an intercambio [exchange] together last transfer, so it is fun that we are comps for real now.

We had district conference yesterday.  It was incredibly beautiful.  I LOVE my mission President!  Like, more than I ever thought was possible to.  And his wife, who reminds me of my mommy, because she is straight up and laughs at some of the weird culture things instead of trying to think it’s normal, just like my mom would. Anyway, it was so great. The Spirit was so incredibly strong.  These converts all bore their testimonies, and President and Hermana spoke, and it was so beautiful.  

We were a part of this weird choir, being led by this guy from Chiclayo who thought that missionaries had time for practices to learn how we should be breathing.  Yea, no way, bud.  But anyway, we went up to the front (me and my comp without going to the practices ha....  some things never change), and we got to see Guiselle there, with her three kids (Siomara 16 and Christopher 13 and Natalie the fattest 6-month-old ever).  Guiselle said she loved hearing the testimonies, and that she would be up there giving hers soon.  President wanted to meet them, and they did.  I love that, because though God is for all of us, he really is involved in our lives, and wants to be a part of them.  We had a lesson with them after, and they said they felt something that they hadn’t at any other church.  That they want to keep coming.  They are planning on being baptized March 15th, so please pray for them.  When we invited with a date, and they all said yes confidently, it was so cool.  Like, really, if I came on my mission just for her, it’s ok.  For them.  I would have still done it.  Guiselle, we asked her how she felt, and she was like, first, excited! That’s the first feeling I feel.  ha ahhh!  How sweet is she! 

And Gina and her boy Roel were there too, and fingers crossed Gina will be able to get married and that Edgar and Gina and Roel will all be able to get baptized together this month when Edgar gets back from the sea job. And please pray for Rosa and Robert, who need the courage to make it to their dates too. And everyone in Bello Horizonte y Talara Alta.

Thank you so much for your prayers.  I love you.  They mean so much to me.  I know this Gospel is true.  I really do.  It is what keeps me going when I have given everything and feel like there’s nothing left.  The Gospel will always be left.  And Christ never runs out.  And He wants us all to take from what He has. Thank you, my dear loved ones, for teaching me that.  I love you.

Hermana J

Dalton - The four things we need

February 10, 2014

The four things we need

Well, this week has been pretty fun.  After having just read Davi's email from last week, I'm worried that it will seem pretty lame, but I really quite enjoyed myself.  A former investigator named Yasmin told a member friend last week that she had decided to get baptized, so we were going crazy to get her ready this week.  In fact, I even lost our cell phone in a three-wheeled taxi on the way to the family's house last Wednesday.  That is so like me.  Anyway, it was a great service.  And I still don’t have a phone.

Our pensionist owns a small restaurant in her house.  One day while we were eating, a family came in to eat as well.  They just seemed so nice that we started talking to them and set up an appointment.  As it turns out, the lady is a less active.  We just yesterday had an appointment with the husband, and he told us that he thinks that God has given him a second chance on his life and that he has been accepting missionaries from other religions. He told us how excited he is for this, because the missionaries from the other religions never really followed up on him.  He says that he wants to get married for real now and everything.  Finding people that the Lord has prepared is the funnest part of being a missionary.

I'm not kidding when I say that we harass families on the street.  We don't talk to too many people by themselves, but when we see a family from far away, sometimes we look at each other and start running to catch up to them.  We need families.

President Archibald just wrote us advice from Elder Grow.  He said that Elder Ballard gave him this advice when he was a mission president, and the baptisms tripled.  There are four things a mission needs to do:

1.  Open your mouths, and really let it be the Spirit that speaks to the people you find.
2.  Be experts in PMG and be a missionary of PMG.
3.  Learn the lessons so you can teach any principle in any setting.
4.  Learn to teach by the Spirit and be obedient in order to receive the Spirit.

I'm so happy to be here.  Keep up the good work over there!

Elder Johnson

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Davi - Angels in Babylon

February 3, 2014

Angels in Babylon   

{Confession:  Davi didn’t title this email, so her Mom had to come up with one.]

Ok, I have a miraculous story for you all.  It is that of Guiselle.  So, we were walking to our back-up plan when a menos activo that we had an appointment with wasn’t there, and we walked by this lady holding a baby.  I didn’t really notice her at first, because I was blathering on about something unimportant to my comp, and my comp stopped, and we went back to talk to her.  She looked familiar, and as we talked, she told me that she had been looking for me.  And I was like, huh?  I had met her before, like a month ago, in a combi [must be slang, because Google Translate didn’t have it, but it’s apparently some mode of transportation], and we talked for about two minutes about her children, and then she really abruptly got off, and we couldn’t get her info of anything.  That happens all the time, so yea.  

But anyway, she told me that she had been looking for me ever since.  That she looked for me in Facebook, como Hermana Johnson, and that she told all of her family and friends about me, and asked them if they knew me.  And I was like, why?  And she said, “You are an angel.  I know you are.  I was sad that day, and just talking to you for those few minutes, I felt better.  And I felt something.  And I know you had something, and I wanted it again, so I have been looking for you.”   So we told her about how God speaks to us today, not just in the past, and gives us direction on how we can have a happy family, and she was like, YES!  and just was so excited.  I felt the Spirit super strong just talking to her, not even just when I was testifying. Just conversation.  She is a rock star.  And then we came back the next day, and she had read the pamphlet multiple times, and had questions, and told us she had been waiting for us her whole life.  And her kids too.  And she was all ready to come to church, but the person who was supposed to go pick her up didn’t, and she was just waiting at her house because she didn’t know how to get to the church.  Super heartbreaking, but hey.  Next week is conference.  So maybe that’s why. Anyway, we are so blessed.

Something she said when we first came back to her was, “I was scared you weren’t going to stop and talk to me.”  That has been ringing in my head ever since.  How many people feel like that?  

I want to tell you about all of these people but there just isn’t time!  Like José Francisco, a menos activo de two years who I have never really gotten a hold of before.  Anyway, I was like, so what happened? And he was like, oh personal things.  And I was like, girls are the worst, aren’t they?  And he proceeded to tell me and my member comp why he quit going to church.  King Lamoni moment.  And then, we were reading in Mosiah 27, and I started reading 14, and I was confused as to why, and then explained that we had been praying for him and are right now fasting for him, and that a bunch of members ask about him, even though it has been two years.  And he started half crying (the Latin man tough cry that isn’t really a cry) and told us that he had been going to a different church, but didn’t feel like it that morning.  So he prayed to God, because he felt so confused about what to do, and his life, and he said, and to hear that you and Hermana Gomez are fasting for me, I don’t think there is a clearer answer than that.  He is going to come back :)  

I really was having a hard time recently, in all honesty, and in a bus on an intercamio, and then we ended up getting stuck in the Babylon of my mission where there aren’t missionaries because everyone is a nudist.  Anyway, our mission mom told us to go to the beach and do our studies.  It was incredible what a short study on a beach and talking to people who have never seen missionaries can do for your system. Everything has turned up from there.  It really is cool how God gives us so much.  Just, everything that we need.  Even if sometimes that is getting stuck in Babylon.  God just takes really great care of me.  I love Him so much.  And I am desperate that all His kids get back, because I don’t think I could handle seeing Him cry.  

It sounds like you are all doing amazing things.  Remember, like two minutes con Guiselle, you don’t know the good you are doing.  Keep it up!!!  

Love you!!
Hermana J

Dalton - Toto, I don't think we're in Lima anymore

February 3, 2014

Toto, I don't think we're in Lima anymore

Well, I was wrong.  I am not exactly in Pachacutec.  I'm in Barranca!  It's like Pachacutec, but the opposite:  It's green!  Well, ok, my area is Paramonga, and it's a town of about 20,000 people just north of Barranca.  (You can all check if my guess on the population is wrong.)  My companion is Elder Peña, and he's from  (drumroll please) Davi's mission!  His town is called Ignacio Escudro Sullana.  Yes, THE Ignacio Escudro Sullana! Anyway, he's 18 and he's been out for 5 months.  He's a good boy.

I am excited out of my mind to be here, too.  Paramonga is a branch—one of six branches in the Barranca district.  President wants Barranca to be a stake very soon.  So help me, if we don’t get the job done here, I will have to move here after my mission just to be a tithe-paying priesthood holder.  Honestly, I am so excited to be here.  

We have a very confusing ward directory, which probably means that the missionaries who were here before lacked the patience to sift through it all to find some lost folks.  We are also handing out a copy of the Family Proclamation to every family that we see.  I may have already told you all about this, but it's amazing how different the response is when the dad, mom, and child are all together.  We just have to say that we want to share some things on how to have a happy family, or eternal family, or whatever, and a lot of them just don’t have the heart to say "No, I am so busy every day of the week that I can’t listen to you."  It's exciting.  Tonight, we'll be teaching a MARRIED couple that likes the church and just desperately needs to watch the Restoration and be baptized on the 15th.  Even if they don’t know it.

I’m so glad to be here.  Thank you all for your prayers.

Elder Johnson