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