January 29, 2012

La GRIPA!!!!

That's spanish for cold. I caught a bad cold yesterday, but the way they say, "¡¿tiene gripa?!" makes you feel like you caught cancer. It was kind of a bummer day to get sick because it was the day of the baptisms for the Lopez family. They are like the coolest people ever. The dad is a member, but super inactive. He knows, however, that the happiest time in his life was when he was active in the church and he wants him and his family to get involved again. His wife, two daughters, and son, are not members. However, the wife and a daughter are now and the son is only six. We´re working with the other daughter still. But they are awesome. They are the first people I've baptized who I feel like actually have a desire to stay active for ever and who really understand the gospel. I got to do the ordinance for both of them and it was quite special, other than the runny nose, which I'm sure ruined several pictures. So it was a good cap to a good week.

So, you had questions about Idla, right? Well, she came to church this week, as promised and is still super interested. Everything was going along splendidly until gospel principles class, where we talked about the Plan of Salvation. That's when she dropped this atomic bomb, "What do you believe about babies who die before baptism? Because I had a baby who died at three months and I asked my pastor about it and he said that my baby was with Satan." Well, hermana, let's just turn right to Moroni chapter 8 and read the truth. After a very touching and spirit filled explanation, she then asked the question, "So what can I do to fully repent and live with my child again?" This is the point when the hermana who was getting baptized that day said, "That's the job of the elders." Yup, the work is moving along just fine here. My next transfer is the 6th of Feburary and I'll probably stay again to finish training my kid. Good chance I'll finish my first fourth of my mission in one area. 

I still haven't gotten my package yet, and I'm really looking forward to it. I am super jealous that dad went to a Jimmer game and I want to hear how he did. 

Can you believe it, I already have to go? Pray that I can find some new investigators please! Love ya!
Elder Johnson

January 22, 2012

I never know what time it is here. See, they don't use am and pm. They use días, tardes, y noche and I don't know when they begin or end. I've asked three different natives this question and I've received three different answers. So I just use buenas...... and they understand that I'm greeting them.

On to stories: We are having amazing success this transfer. Like, incredible. We've put 9 baptismal dates and seven of them are real. We are going to put two more real ones this week. We are going to baptize a family next Sunday. The Lord wants that Elder Bridgeraj and I work. So we are working. I won't lie, I'm like two weeks behind in my journal because I just crash to bed every night. To put things in perspective, our entire zone, like 14 missionaries, has put like 5 dates. My companion and I had six for one Sunday. things are going great.

Alright, I'm already out of time, so quick story: So we have made a goal to knock 4 doors everyday, for several reasons. First, we want to contact more people. Second, Elder Bridgeraj wants to learn how to contact. Third, knocking doors is a terrible experience unless you are used to it, se we are getting used to it. Finally, we have met some really cool people. Like Idla. Idla is an old lady. I was really hesitant about her at first because her door had a "This house is Christian, everyone is Welcome" sticker on the door and that generally means super Christian person who does not want to change. She opened the door, told us to come back the next day. We came back and knocked and nobody answered. We figured she had given us a false time so she wouldn't have to really talk with us and moved on. The next day, we came back to visit her neighbors and lo and behold, we found her leaving her house, "You never came yesterday!" "Yes we did, we knocked right at 4 like we said" "No you did not, I was waiting. Did you ring the doorbell?" "There's a doorbell? Oh." So we put another time, later that day. Showed up 10 minutes late. "You're late! I've been waiting." Okay, crazy lady. But we started teaching. And teaching. And taught the first lesson. She ate everything up. At the end, she told us the secret: She is baptist, but is sick of her church. She has had a lot of problems lately and has been praying. Then we showed up. Many members of her family are Mormon. She has already read the Book of Mormon. Several times. She decided to listen to the missionaries for the first time in her life. And more: The house she is living in is the second house of the pastor of her Church. She feels like she has to do whatever he says because really she is living off of his kindness. But the other day, guess what happened? Her son, who never calls her, never supports her, never associates with her, called her right after one of her prayers to tell her that he had bought a house for her right across the street. Her own house. Then we knocked on her door. Yup, she is convinced that these are signs from God that she should listen to our message. I'd certainly believe that. So we are going to put a baptismal date with her next week too. The Lord is preparing people and it is amazing.

Then, we put three baptismal dates with the world's coolest family. Turns out the law of chastity is a great baptismal lesson.

Got to go. Love you all. Bye!

January 15, 2012

Curse you, Shakira!

Okay, bad news all: President has officially restrited internet time. We have gone from spending two hours on Preparation day writing to friends, family, and President to forty five minutes. Yup, we are back to MTC style letters: short, rushed, scattered, and infinitely less inspiring than the unrestricted Elder Johnson. Kidding about that last part, but just be aware that my letters may become shorter. Sorry. The reason for this change has to do with, of all people, Shakira. See, she decided to go and make very popular Spanish language music and many missionaries, as it turns out, lack self control. So instead of writing families and friends, they decided to watch Shakira music videos on Youtube and I can't help but agree with the President's opinion that this does not help them focus on the work. 

But, to the good stuff. This week went great. Like, spectacularly great. What happened was we started progressing again here in Bosque. After Paty's baptism, we had kind of run out of things to do. We still had a bunch of investigators, but none of them were really progressing that much. We still needed and were not receiving a bunch of member support. We tried to develop the work for a bit, but that didn't really work out. But this week, things started moving again. For example, our numbers of investigators in Sacrament meeting were hovering near two a week. Sometimes one, sometimes three, never more than that. This week seven came, including two families. We had been putting like one baptismal date a week before. Last week: 5. And three of them are looking pretty legit. Here are the stories:

First, we have Luis. I have talked about Luis before. He is fourteen years old and I started teaching him in my first transfer. In our first lesson with him, we put a baptismal date. He had never come to church between that time and this Sunday. Some lessons, he appeared super interested in our message and our Church. Other lessons he seemed like a  bored thirteen year old kid who didn't know how to say no. But we could never drop him because he always expressed a desire for baptism. So, the other day we were walking to Luis's house and we ran into none other than Luis himself. Luis told us yeah, he had time to listen and also something very interesting: some neighbor had accused him of stealing. He asserts that it wasn't him and that he had been in his house all night in the presence of his parents. Also, the neighbor said Luis stole like a value of 23000 pesos, which, judging from Luis's neighborhood, means that Luis would have had to steal the man's house. ANyways, Luis was clearly looking for help with this problem. We were going to teach the ten commandments, but we changed on the spot. We turned to the Book of Mormon to answers and I went to Helaman where we found the story of Nephi praying on his tower. What happened? Well, as Nephi was praying, a crowd gathered and began to listen. Some didn't like Nephi's claims of sins and began to falsely accuse him of law breaking. Nephi then received help from God, revelation about the assasination of the chief judge. What do you think happened after this, Luis? Luis began to get very excited, "Well, I imagine, I think, I would say that the people went and looked and found the chief judge dead. And then they would accuse Nephi because he knew beforehand, right?" Exactly, Luis. But Nephi did not compromise his standards. He remained faithful and confident in God. What happened? He received more help and was vindicated from all the false charges. Moral of the story, Luis: Nephi began the story praying. This is how to receive divine help for temporal problems. Second, stay true to your standards. So are you going to come to church tomorrow? Yup, 100% sure. And then Luis prayed. During his prayers, he always prayed for his family. In this prayer, he said these words, but in Spanish, "Father, thank you for sending me the missionaries for helping me not feel alone in this world."

Yeah, I want to baptize him real bad now. And he finally came to church. This is the message of listening to the Holy Ghost in order to help others. I know that I am receiving help every day. I really have more really cool stories about really cool people, including one about how an investigator fought with her mother in law and now comes to church, but I am out of time. I am sorry Colton, that I could not write you this week and I'll try to do better next week. Love you all!
Elder Johnson 

January 8, 2012

Happy New Year!

Hey there neighbors, can you do the otter dance?

Aww, the holiday season is over.....I'm actually really happy about that! Now, everybody can return from there family's house and can either a. start helping us bring investigators to church or b. start being investigators again. Yup, missionary life has, in fact, changed me that much.   New years has always been one of my least favorite holidays. I don't like resolutions, I won't lie. I've never really made them. Before my mission, I didn't like resolutions because I was lazy. Now, I don't like resolutions because year long goals don't really motivate me. I like to motivate myself. Daily, weekly, and monthly goals help me to work harder and eventually add up to big changes by the end of the year, but yearly goals are forgotten quickly. Also, New Years just means that I have to waite 358 days more until Christmas again. Not cool in my book. But, I did REALLY enjoy New Year's here.

In Mexico, they do what they always seem to do for holidays: blow things up, eat really big meals really late at night, break piñatas, get drunk. However, we spent New Years with Andres, who is one of my favorite people ever. Andres lives in Huayapam and if I could choose a place to live in Mexico, I would live in Huayapam. Huayapam is up high and really peaceful, with a big, pretty park and a big, pretty Catholic church. Also, Andres lives there and he has an American house. The house in and of itself is not very American, as far as design or style goes, but inside it is completely and totally bedecked with pictures and posters of the United States and United States' pop culture. Also, Andres buys and makes the most delicious desserts on the face of the planet. Many people are still waiting desperately for a famous Andres flan or cake. He is nineteen years old and a convert of one year. He met with the missionaries, went to Church, and got baptized before his mother did the same. He is awesome. And on New Years, he delivered. He made a delicious leg of pig, glazed and to die for. He made an awesome cake for us, which I devoured. He ordered us a taxi to take us home on time. Best of all, he gave my companion and I ties for the New Year, which I love. I had a great New Year. My companion, not so much, mostly because he is not used to living in Bosque and could not sleep through all the fireworks.

So, a few weeks ago I told you the story of me "dropping" a man in the baptismal font.  Well, here's another baptism story:
 Elder Edwards baptized a little girl in his last area. He was determined to do it right. He did not want to have to do it again. She was a little scared of the water. So when they did it, everything was going smoothly until her dress start floating out of the water. Elder Edwards, determined to get it right in one try, push her farther down. That's when he noticed that she had started to struggle, so he promptly let her back up. She was sobbing; some scary white missionary had ruined her baptism by trying to drown her!

Anyway, I should probably tell you a little bit about my new companion. His name is Elder Bridgeraj and nobody will ever be able to pronounce his name correctly for two years. He is from Canada. But his family is from Guayana. But his name is from India. Yeah, I know, pretty cool. He is my hijo. As they say, I was born in Bosque, I was raised in Bosque, and now I have reproduced in Bosque. Missionary lingo is disturbing sometimes. Anyways, Elder Bridgeraj likes spicy food, doesn't conjugate verbs, says hi to everyone, borrachos included, on the street, wears a lot of cologne (I say he is fighting a losing battle. When you live in Mexico, you just end up smelling like Mexico after a while), like Kobe Bryant (blech), and loves everything about Mexico. He is pretty cool. He is totally willing to learn, and is teaching me to be a more enthusiastic missionary. I already know that it is going to be a good transfer.

Well, I accidentally had to write my weekly letter to the Presidente twice (dang aplication error!) and I'm already out of time. Love you and miss you all and have a very happy new year!
Elder Johnson

January 2, 2012


So we found this....animal the other day. I wish I would have gotten a picture. It was big and lay itself proudly on the roof of a house. Its fur was gold and bushy, curling around its head in what definitely was a mane. I'm not sure what the laws are here, but I'm pretty convinced that it was a lion and not your typical dog. At least it was half lion. There's no other way. Maybe it was the mysterious lion of Oaxaca, who wisely watches over its shores.....or maybe it was a very lion-like dog. Whatevskis. To business.

I'm staying!!! I'm very happy about that. I love Bosque. I love my ward, the members, inactives, investigatores, strange people I meet, everyone. I love how big it is, I love the challenges that make me think. I love the Spirit here. I love how the work is progressing. I love the hope I have for the future. Bosque will be great. Here's the kind-of-bad news: Elder Edwards is leaving. I say kind of bad because I had a really good time with Elder Edwards and I learned a lot from him. It will be sad to watch him go. He's off to Yayaupam with Elder Castellano, who I have heard is very strange. Good luck to Elder Edwards. He's a good Elder and I'm sure he'll be fine. It will not be so sad to greet my kid because I'm training this transfer! Yay! My district will still be small, but instead of Elder Nataren and his kid, it will be Elder Nataren and Elder Graves, the second nicest missionary from my generation (the nicest is Elder Jolly, who loves up to his name like a rockstar. I don't know if you've seen the Scrubs episode with the guy who nobody wants to give bad news to, even Kelso, but that's Elder Jolly. Best smile ever). Elder Graves is also awesome and I'm excited to work with him. I don't know if you remember, but I did divisions with him in my first transfer. He's a cool guy. Taggart met him briefly in the temple once.

Oh, speaking of Taggart: guess who is going to be the compeñero de Elder Harris, the child of Elder Nataren? A certain Elder Fuenzalida, who served briefly in the Ogden Utah Spanish speaking mission. Yes, Elder Fuenzalida is still alive and kick and it is giving my president a headache. Fuenzalida is the headcase of the mission. He has a lot of time here but is still junior companion. He's never had a companion longer than a transfer. His kid, the only one he has ever had, went home after his transfer with Fuenzalida. So good luck to Elder Harris (by the way, I should probably explain to those who don't know that a kid is a missionary who you train in the field. They don't talk much because they don't know the language, but generally they are super eager and awesome. Being a trainer is the goal).

Those are the transfers. I really don't have much to say because we had a highly enjoyable forty five minute conversation yesterday. Yesterday, we had our services with Ixcotel, the other ward in our building. Adolfo got confirmed. Let me just tell you that Adolfo is wayyyyyyyyyyy happier now. He makes jokes. I see him smile every time we meet. He is active and things are looking up for him. Let's here for the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in people's lives. Then, after the meeting, we baptized Pati and we actually did it with no major mistakes, other than using the same water from our last baptism because we don't know how to drain the font in Spanish. After that, we rushed off to Tlacolula in order to see the newly built chapel that opens next month and to give the worst Christmas performance ever. Half of our soloists returned home this transfer, so we had like six stand ins. The mikes would cut in and out at random intervals. We couldn't hear the piano, so we always rushed ahead of it. I'm pretty sure we ruined Christmas in Tlacolulu. And destroyed whatever missionary work they had. But hey, on the bright side, they gave us really good tamales.

Anyways, thanks for all of the Christmas presents (I got a super cool singing tie that impresses everybody here). I love and miss you all, but to be frankly honest, I've got some work to do. Talk to you next week. Bye!


Elder Johnson