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 QuiƱones 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 QuiƱones 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