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

A Little Chiste [joke] to Start Off

September 22, 2014

-Una vez fui a un restaurante que solo vendia segundos.  Este lugar no tenia mucho exito.  Toda la gente solo se quedaba afuera.  Y por que?  [One time there was a restaurant that only sold seconds.  They didn’t have much success.  All of the people waited outside.  And why?]
--Porque no habia entrada!  [Because there wasn’t an entrance/entrée.]
It seems to be a good hit here.  Thank you, language study.

Well, hello, family!  We had a pretty good week here.  We knocked a lot of doors, found a lot of people...and, of yeah, remember Jean, the dentist that has been an investigator for a long time?  He's a member now!  I know that I didn't bring any evidence with me to prove that he actually got baptized, but I think you can all trust me on this one.  He is really a great guy that EVERYONE thought was already was a member.  Seriously.  We were making phone calls to tell everyone about his baptism after he passed the interview, and they almost always said, "Wait, that guy’s not a member?"  Well, give him two days and he will be.  He was the type to wear suits to church even before getting baptized, so I guess he was able to slip under the radar.

We are looking hard to find other people in the area.  Our area is actually the smallest I've ever had on my mission, so it's given me the opportunity to work differently now.  One day after planning, while I was on my bed preparing to do my pre-10:30 power nap, I asked my companion, "Elder Feller, where are the families we are going to baptize?"  After pausing, he said, "Mercurio."  I said the same.  In the course of this week, we have decided to essentially never work anywhere else.  Honestly, we are obsessed with that place.  It was a bit strange, because on Saturday, after tracting, one man let us in, who we later realized was the uncle of another man we had taught a week before.  We are seeing that things are starting to come together over there.

And, a less active family we were teaching came to church, to our surprise.  I had the husband talk to the bishop and now he has a plan to baptize his son in November!  So please pray for the Rojas family.

Love you all!

Elder Johnson

The Baptism of the Week

September 15, 2014

I'm glad to hear everything is going well and that dad is onto another get-rich-quick scheme.  Haha just kidding. You can delete that if you want to.

We are having a good time here.  We didn't have a baptism this week, at least in our area.  But, we did have one in Argentina.  Elder Feller's mom got baptized on Saturday!  He was super happy, and we were just now seeing some photos.

As for the offices, I'm getting used to everything and we are able to get a lot done proselyting too.  In the office, I just finished a spreadsheet for each area in the mission to use in ward council to track the progress of new converts.  It felt nice being able to get that done, not to mention that I finally understand what F4 does.  I know, I'm a genius.

Doing those things in the office makes me grateful for the time we have to proselyte.  Once I get to the point where I'm copying and pasting til 4pm, I feel like I'm turning into Quasimodo in my spinny chair.  So yeah, I feel like we're making good use of the time we have.

Oh, that's right, maybe I can fill you all in.  Jean is this eternal investigator that is going to get baptized on Saturday, and it looks like the ward mission leader will be able to baptize him.  We live in a neighborhood called Covida, which is a relatively well off place.  We have been working hard in Covida with little results up til now. This week we started working a small hill called Mercurio, which at first we were reluctant to work in because it's a little bit farther from the chapel, and hills generally have a history of couples living together without getting married.  Well, we found some really good people there.  Yesterday, we felt like we should keep going farther and farther in, and the place we tracted is fantastic.  Yesterday we found a married family, which was a very promising sign for us about the area.  Tracting is a lot better in Mercurio than Covida as well, so we are going to contact that place to death this week.  We are excited.

Another nice thing I saw was when I was working on the recent convert spreadsheets for the mission.  I saw the names of the converts in Paramonga, which is one of my old areas.  I honestly left that area feeling like I didn't do much to help that branch, but then I saw the names of the newest converts:  Juan Zuñiga and his wife. When I saw the name, I couldn't remember who it was, but then it came to me:  we taught him for the first time the Sunday before I got transferred.  We all likely will have the opportunity to do much good in this world without ever realizing the great work we are doing.

Anyway, love you all!  Make good choices.

Elder Johnson

I Don't Get Paid Enough For What I Do

September 8, 2014

Ok, we had a great week.  I'm not sure how much I explained about our ward, but it’s called Covida and it's about a 5-minute bus ride from the mission offices.  So, we live in our area, we study in our area, and then we generally go to the offices to do our day job, eat lunch, slam through whatever else we need to do and go back on the bus to our areas.  We really try to get out of there as soon as we can, which I suppose is about the same as a day job outside of the mission.  The packages part of my day job is super easy, but the numbers of the mission job is a bit harder because I use Excel (the word Excel gives me the shivers).  But it's important because I have to send some things to the area and whatever, and then sending referrals just makes me want to punch-dance my rage out sometimes, because there are some referrals that Google Maps is convinced don’t exist.  But, I'm basically caught up.  The offices are pretty fun.

Outside of the offices are a lot more fun.  Elder Feller and I are really wanting to go to town, so we get out of the offices as soon as we can to find new people.  Since we opened  this area and there haven't been a lot of investigators, we are finding and finding and finding.  It is a lot of fun.  We made the conscious decision to trust each other, just to never be embarrassed to even start up a terrible contact.  We have found that we have, yes, started up some poor contacts, but more and more of the contacts every day are people that have previously had contact with the church or people that have a family member in the church.  So in the end, it doesn't really matter how we are contacting, since the Lord is just giving us great contacts.

Basically, the area had one investigator when we came in.  His name is Jean.  He's a dentist that is also studying, so we never had time to teach him up until yesterday, although we met him at church before. As it turns out, he has been investigating the church for 6 months.  The first missionaries to teach him were the assistants, who later realized that they were poaching, and then a fair number of missionaries taught him after that.  When we taught, we basically asked the baptismal interview questions to see where he is. Afterwards, we asked him, "So what is really your doubt about being baptized?"  He said that there isn't, that he just needs to make his decision.  Then we asked what he lacked to make that decision.  In the end, his only real doubt was with his schedule.  He's getting baptized on the 20th.  We left the lesson and we felt like we didn't do anything.  
I don't have time right now to explain everything that's happening here, but I'll just say that we are receiving a lot of help in an area that we heard was very difficult.  As far as I can tell, Covida is the best area I've ever had. I'm with a good companion who is pushing me to do the best I can, and I'm very happy that the Lord knows me and takes care of me.  It's nice to know that it's not too late to change my mission.

Love you all!

Elder Johnson