Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Photos I Won't Send

August 18, 2014

Ok, usually the internet place we go to has shocky computers, but this one today is like electric chair shock, so I will not send any photos this week.  Instead, I will just explain:

We are finally putting into practice the free caricature stand.  As it turns out, it makes mornings very effective, perhaps the most effective time of day.  That's weird to say, because many missionaries would rather only proselyte after lunch because people are usually cooking in the morning.  Well, caricatures are definitely more fun.  We did it twice this week in the market.  In fact, we had a pretty spiritual experience with a pineapple vendor named Noe.  My companion lost his planner with Noe's phone number (we are too much alike in that sense), so we hope we can find him this week.

We also found one more family this week.  We met one of them, a less-active member named Karina, on Sunday.  On Thursday, for when we set the appointment, a lot of people showed up.  One of them is Karina's husband Alex.  After having explained everything, we were answering questions, but we noticed that Alex was completely absorbed in the Book of Mormon we had left him.  After leaving the house, Hermano Rojas (it's nice to have a retired member who teaches seminary to accompany you sometimes) said, "Well, he's going to be a member.  It's just a matter of when."  We agree.

It's hard to think that it has to end.  But I guess that's the way it is.  I finally understand old people, I think. But I need to apply everything when I get back.  It's my greatest fear to come back, not having figured it out. I've seen it among returned missionaries we've tried to activate.  I'm so grateful for this time, even though it's short.

Love you all!

Elder Johnson

Going Out With a Bang

August 18, 2014

Bueno.  Here we are folks!  It has been a pleasure doing business with God.  As it will be my whole life.  
God has stretched my heart.

I know God loves His children.  He is so involved in our lives.  He wants us to know how much He loves us.  He sent His precious son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die so that He could be our Dad forever.  And how are we going to know that?  We know that because He talks to us.  We can pray, but also listen.  He has called a prophet to speak to us with.  His name is Thomas S. Monson.  He has had a book written to prove it and to give us answers and help us know that what the Bible says is true.  It’s the Book of Mormon.  He appeared to a young boy to be able to restore His church that was taken off the Earth when everyone killed Christ and the apostles, so that we would always have direction and not need to be confused.  That young boy’s name is Joseph Smith, and that church is called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I know it’s hard to believe, because everything in the world seems to lead us to not want to try or believe, but just even if there is something of a desire, just try.  What will it hurt?  Just ask God.  And try it.  And you can know.  Just like I have seen my whole mission.  It’s real.  God is real.  And YOU CAN know it.  

I love you all.  I love God.  I love Christ.  I love what He did for us and what He can make of us.  I love being His.  I love Peru, I love these people.  I love eating rice and being all bitten by mosquitoes and speaking Spanish and kissing people on the cheek and seeing all the horrible drunks.  I love being a missionary most of all.  And luckily, I can take that with me. I wrote this in my journal when I was leaving Talara, and it applies just so well right now:  ´´So blessed to have been here.  So excited for what’s to come.  And so trying to not focus on the heart piece that’s not coming with me.”  That sums up my feelings.  

It’s true.  I know it.  I am His disciple, and I will not deny Him.  Forever.  Isn’t that so comforting to know? And now, I can go to the temple!!  YAYY!!!

Love you.  
Hna Johnson

PS, Fun thing: Last night, the drunk uncle of Eduardo came out to greet us, and when he shook my hand he put it to his forehead and called me his queen.  Said a lot more things, so we left.  Lots of weird things like that happen, but then we got a text from Eduardo saying that his uncle wouldn’t stop talking about me, so Eduardo had to be like, calm down, she is leaving the country this week.  And the drunk uncle left the house and went to this bridge that is in the area and tried to jump off it.  They got to him before he did anything, and he got home safely.  Anyway, going out with a bang!

Baptism of Maricarmen (I'm on the front row)

          How I feel about Peru

       How Peru feels about me
                  maybe?  haha

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Beautiful Rewards

August 11, 2014

I feel like God has really been rewarding me this week.  Just lots of love and lots of appreciation.  It’s really cool to see things now, that it is God thanking me.  That when someone thanks me, it is them thanking God, and God thanking me.  It’s such a sweet experience to be here. Indescribably sweet.  

This is a snippet from an email I received this week from Xiomy, the hija [daughter] de Guisselle from Talara. Could you just die?
el 26 de Julio fernando, kris y yo fuimos al templo de guayaquil en ecuador y fue lo maximo, una experiencia maravillosa, hice obra vicaria por los fallecidos! que felicidad! pero me he puesto la meta que la proxima que vaya al templo lo hare tambien por mi familia que ha fallecido.  [Google translated it for me:  I told you that on July 26 Ferdinand, Kris and I went to the temple of Guayaquil in Ecuador and was the maximum, a wonderful experience, I vicarious work for the dead! that happiness! but I have set the goal to go to the next temple will do it also for my family who has passed away, look at this photo is attached of the Temple!]
What a rockstar, right?  Love her.

This week, Maricarmen POR FIN [at last] accepted a baptismal date.  She will get baptized this Saturday.  She is a ten-year-old girl.  But get this.  Her entire family has been baptized except for her.  Her older brother is serving a mission, her dad and sister got baptized a year ago, and her mom got baptized a couple months ago.  But she just, wouldn’t.  We couldn’t get through to her, and she like refuses to answer questions.  But the brother is getting home in 13 months, and they all are going to get sealed together then.  And so they would have had to put it off to wait the year for her. I just don’t get that age group at all.  Well, we went over this week, visiting her convert family, like we do, and she told us she wanted to be baptized.  And we were like, good girl!!  I was thinking about it though, and we didn’t do anything for that decision.  I was thinking, what could have happened?  And I realized, it had to have been the angels.  We have been working a lot harder on family history, really trying to help everyone do it.  And I thought, it must be them. Because we are doing our best to help them, so of course they would be doing their best to help us.  That’s the only answer.  So I think this is a great deal.  We try to help them, and then they help us.  And they do our work a lot better than we do, obviously.  So, it’s a great deal in my opinion.  They will help the people we love a lot more than we could.  

Being a missionary is the very best thing ever.  I feel literal heartbreak to be leaving. But I was talking to God last night, and I said, I know I will have chances to serve you still after, but it just won’t be the same. And He responded, that’s the point babe. My life is still in His hands. 

I will write you a great testimony or something next week. But for now, can you pray for Micaela Bastidas?

I love you guys!!!

Hermana Johnson


August 11, 2014

Sorry for sending this in late [he had started to email in the morning and then didn’t finish until late afternoon].  I got cut off in my email time and couldn't send out the email.  We had some choir thing to do for when Elder Anderson is going to be touring the mission.  Oh yeah, and Elder Anderson is going to be touring the mission. Anyway, here's the email, new and improved!

This was actually a pretty solid week.  I am excited.  The Risco family, the family we dropped and now are teaching again, told me on Sunday that they noticed when we were gone there was a certain emptiness in the home.  I heard it and thought, Wow, that's exactly what we prayed for when we dropped you.  On Saturday, we had the chance to talk with just Carlos, who told us "Well, for my part, if it wasn't for my in-laws, we would already be members."  In-laws, am I right?  Anyway, he also told us that his wife had a doubt about tithing, so on Sunday we went on a division and I went to go teach tithing.  All good on tithing, all settled on temple marriage, so then the question of the night:  Do you honestly feel like the Book of Mormon is true?  Carlos said yes. Elna...almost said yes.  She's reading but needs to pray about it.  The next question:  When you can honestly tell me yes, will you be willing to be baptized?  She gave a solid yes, which is a big step for her after what happened with her parents.  

Pray for them.  They can do it on the 30th.  Carlos is like stake president material.  When we talked about sealings, he had a question about what Jesus said in Matthew 22 about the resurrection, and I thought, Why in the world do you know so much already?  What a punk, right!

Well, to explain what's going on, we are going on splits a lot now, because in Lima, very little happens during the day, and then suddenly it's seven thirty and you wish you had a jet pack between appointments.  It's like what Dad says about being an anesthesiologist.  It's fun.

Sounds like we'll have another free baptism as well, from someone who went to English class and said that she attended church for 9 months, was about to get baptized over in Chiclayo, and then she moved here.  Those poor missionaries in northern Peru, right?

Now for the pictures:  The first is the baptism of Jorge Astete and his son Alan.  His wife, Vanessa, was a less-active member but now everyone is a member.  We are talking with them a lot about their temple date.  He is a Marine and he's great.  Alan is a funny little 11-year-old kid who always has very specific questions.  The baptism really happened because of really persistent follow-up on the Book of Mormon.

The photo here is our most recent baptism named Sandra.  She was kind of an eternal investigator, but now she's good and had a friend of hers baptize her.  Something funny about her is that one time when we were visiting her with a member family, she gave us all brownies, to which I freaked out, because there really isn’t a lot of that in this country.  But now, like every other time we see each other, she gives me a huge bag of brownies because her work gives it to her free and no one there likes it.  I'm glad we have her around.

A picture of the district about a transfer ago while we were doing a service project

A stake activity we were asked to help with
The Olivar Zone

A stake activity we were asked to help with

I'm having a great time here, finding some great people.  I don't want this to end, even though I sense it coming. Thanks for all the support.  Just keep praying for me.  We are very close, but I just need help, and we need to believe that we can do it.  There's just this constant craving to baptize whole families. 

Love you all!

Elder Johnson

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Rock

August 4, 2014

[Whew!  You should’ve seen this email when it came in!  Davi said the space bar wasn’t working, so wow—this was hard to read!  It was like the world’s longest hashtag!]

Gosh, Dalton is such a rock star, isn’t he?  There is a little boy named Dalton here. I love him.

This week at church, the capilla [chapel] was full.  A ton of people who haven’t been to church in a long time came to church. Families are starting to come back.  It’s such a blessing.  And they felt like they belonged.  It’s like, of course you belong!  We all have the same Dad, and we are here with Him!

This week we found Antonio. Found him while we were looking for a recent convert who doesn’t live there anymore. He and his wife are so great. Antonio has started reading the Book of Mormon, but get this--he actually wants to!!! I feel like that is such a sign of preparedness. If they WANT to read the Bookof Mormon. He has a date for the end of the month, hopefully with his wife.

I feel like I am in one of those sports movies. The other team really put up a good fight, and the home team is tired. It seems impossible that they will be able to win. But then, the coach gives them this great pep talk.  In this case, Heavenly Father directly in prayer, through the Book of Mormon, and through letters from people who follow the Spirit.  And the home team gets this energy out of nowhere, and knows that they are going to win! And I felt that happen this week! Got a pep talk, and I am determined to kick the un-home team out of here. God gave me energy and the power to win. Now, I just got to do it. And that’s what we are doing. Every day, as missionaries. Winning.

I know repentance is real.  I know He loves me.  I know it with my whole heart. I know He doesn’t think that we are who we are when we are sad and discouraged.  His opinion is the rock that I need, and when I get scared, I just need to go stand and meditate on that rock. Sometimes it is really hard to get to that rock, though, and I had never felt that before. We all need a little help getting there.  So grateful for that experience, and many more. He is so patient in my sufferings.  Knowing who I am makes all the difference in the world. Get help getting to that rock, and then help others to get there. That’s what I want to do with my whole life. 

Love you guys!  Pray for Antonio and Micaela Bastidas and fam Chaupi and Teresa and fam Montenegro and fam Mejia and Eduardo.

Thanks!  Love you!

Hermana J

Nothing to Lose Here

August 4, 2014

Baptism of Briggitte

Well, it's been a pretty good week.  No complaints on my part.  First off, Erick is an investigator whose baptismal date fell through a few weeks ago.  Honestly, what really was missing was teaching him well the plan of salvation.  We never really had the chance to do so before, because we only really knew him by way of Briggitte, a recent convert.  We had basically been teaching him according to what we needed to teach Briggitte or other family members that were in different stages in the teaching process, so we were glad to really have a one on one (one on two) with him, teaching the plan of salvation.  Erick is an adult, but young to be an orphan.  We taught everything, including temple ordinances, which really interested him.  We asked him, "Erick, what would you tell us if we told you that your family can continue being a family after this life?"  He paused and smiled, and, to quote him, said "how cool."  I don't know if there's a more exact translation for "que chevere."  He told us at the end that he's going to get baptized this month, so we are planning the baptism for the 23rd.

Hermano Rojas' birthday

I think you might remember the Risco family, but what happened there is that we dropped them a while back.  To be honest, I felt like the teaching ended there with a fizzle, so I wasn't sure how they would act in a surprise visit. To my surprise, I found that they welcomed us almost as though they were expecting the visit.  They said that they missed having us there and that it’s a blessing to have them in their house.  My companion felt inspired to share Malachi 4:5-6 (because Carlos Risco is a HUGE fan of obscure things in the Bible) and we talked about the nature of the family.  We invited them to read the Book of Mormon again, saying that there's really nothing to lose here, but absolutely everything to gain if their family truly can be together forever. I really feel like another in-depth teaching of the Plan of Salvation, plus more consistent Book of Mormon reading on the wife's part will be all they need to be baptized this month.  Please pray for them.  I think they were the miracle we've been asking for.
                                                                                                                              Baptism of Nayeli
We're having a good time here.  Hope you are too.  Love you!

Elder Johnson