February 26, 2012

Apple POP

I've found my new addiction. It's called Lift and it is apple pop. Doesn't sound that special? Well, it's really not. This is really how I got addicted to apple pop (which we should have in the US, by the by). I don't know what happened, but the moment I left the city of Oaxaca (where it is, in fact, available), I began to crave Dr. Pepper. It does not exist out here. So I went on a mad search for Dr. Pepper. Instead I found Lift, which is good, but it's not dr Pepper. And now I drink one like everday.

Alright, on to important, cool things. I had my first baptism out here in the Coast. Actually, I had my first three. We baptised three youth, named Ricardo, Angelica, and Adriana. I, for some inexplicable reason, did not get photos of this baptism, so you might never really know who they are. Theyre good kids with good attitudes, and their grandpa is active, so i hope theyll stay active too. OUr branch sure needs it. 24 people showed up this sunday, down from 33 the Sunday before. We are small. We have like 2 active melchisedek priesthood holders who are not insane (The Hmo Anatolio, who is the only counselor in the Branch Presidency, is like 70 years old and insane. He gives talks when assigned prayers. He's a strange fellow). My companion and I have to bless the sacramant. We have a grand total of one young man (2, now with the baptism of Ricardo). ACtually, our young woman program is huge with like 9 active girls. Yeah, I know, bigger than our ward in Minnesota. Thats how we shape up. It's our job to grow the branch to a good size so we can get a chapel out here (we'll need about 80 active members for that). It's the goal. Retention is a little bit of a problem out here, but we're trying to work on that as well.

THis week has been a little crazy. Well, at least the end of it. This is how it went, starting with Thursday: Thurs - exchanges with the zone leaders. Fri - Exchanges with the Elders of Pochutla (my district). Sat - Training conference in Puerto Escondido (like 2 hours away - EVERYTHING IS FAR AWAY IN THE COAST!). Sun - Baptisms. Mon - Huatulco (an hour away) in order to play basketball with the zone. It's been crazy. I'm looking forward to a normal week of work this week, without any distractions. Divisions were an interesting experience. I learned a lot. For example, I went on divisions with Elder Aguirre de Pochutla and we had this lesson with a kid named Joel who was supposed to have been having his baptism this Sunday, but had some doubts because he hadn't received a response to his prayers. I asked him some questions about this, "What type of response are you expecting? Are you praying, reading, and going to church? Do you mean to follow the response you receive?" And all the answers he gave me indicated that he should, in fact, be receiving a response. I couldn't understand why God wasn't answering this kid. THen, before I was going to read a scripture story to help him, I casually tossed out the question, "Do you believe in God?" expecting the response to be a confident yes. Turns out, he's not sure God exists. This is why you need to ask your investigators questions folks. He wasn't receiving an answer to whether or not he should be baptized because he wasn't asking the right question. THe right question is: "God, please help me know that you exist."

Anyway, what do ya know, I'm alrighty out of time. By the By, I do have water know, as well as my clothes that I left in Bosque, with the exception of my baptismal pants and tie. THat made Sunday a little complicated. Look forward to the box. Love you all! Bye!
Elder Johnson

February 19, 2012

Like Seven Inches From the Midday Sun

Well, it's hot here. You just sweat all the time. You never stop. I stepped into an air conditioned building today for the first time in over 4 months and it felt a little bit like heaven. But anyways, here's the nuts and bolts on Puerto Angel. First of all, it is smaller than my last area. This is true, but my last area happened to be the biggest in the mission, so I would have said that for whatever area I received. It certainly doesn't feel that small, though. The town is built on a mountainside and the only flat part is the beach, to which we never go because it is a temptation and because nobody lives.((****I'm pretty sure Riley means "no one lives on the beach", rather than meaning if he goes on the beach, he will die!***)) So we constantly climb hills. My thighs will be huge after my time here. My companion (who is actually my fourth companion - Juarez, Edwards, Bridgeraj, Luna) is awesome. He's funny, a great cook, a hard worker, patient, tolerant, charitable, awesome. He is like the senior companion, although I am technically training him. One thing that we do differently here that I wish I had done in the city is we actually talk to everyone we meet. It nets us a bunch of new investigators of family members and neighbors of the people we are teaching. One thing that I do not like about what we do here is that we talk to drunks. Yes, they deserve a chance at the gospel too and yes, they probably need it more that most, but the truth is that like only 1 time out of 25 will a drinker actually change. And they waste a bunch of time. But I'm getting a little bit more into the swing of things and I should be having three baptisms this Sunday with three grandchildren of an inactive member who we activated.

Sorry, I tried to send you photos, but they are not working. Next week, perhaps, you'll see what kind of critters I'm meeting on the beach.

I haven't had water in my house since the day I arrived (I mean water to bathe and clean and wash your hands. WE have drinking water, don't worry), so we've been working off of a reserve that's about out. We're going to go kindly request water from the water people after this. I'm also getting into district leader mode. I plan training sessions, recieve all the news for the district, I have to do divisions next week, and I had to do my first baptismal interview, which was good. The work is progressing and I'm thinking that I might have a little more than 4 baptisms this transfer. OH yeah, package stuff: I don't really need anything, but here's the deal. Yes, the package will get to me. Yes, I will have to wait longer. If you send it now, I will probably recieve it March 3 when we are going to the city in order to lister to Elder Scott, who is coming here.

Don't worry about crime here. There's actually not that much, just a lot of drunk people, who we definitely avoid at night. I've got to go, but I love you and miss you all. Maybe I'll have time to tell some cool stories next week.

February 12, 2012

La Costa!

So, I got transferred everyone. I really wasn't expecting it, so there were some small disasters involved. I thought the Lord was going to leave me in Bosque just to teach me the value of patience and good work. Instead, he transferred me to paradise. A really hot, humid paradise. Everyone, Elder Johnson has moved to the coast. I was recently informed that the sand street that we live on is actually a dried up river that fills during the rainy season. So if it starts raining, I'll have to take a boat to cross the street. There are a bunch of gecko or lizard like creatures everywhere.  I've already drunk coconut milk directly from a freshly picked coconut. My area, called Porto Angel, has two beaches: the one close to my house and the nude one. Guess which one we avoid like Severus Snape avoids shampu? My area is like pure hills. I'm going to have really strong legs when I leave because I feel like we are climbing mountains all day. Also, I will lose all the weight I gained in the city (yup, pretty sure I gained like ten pounds, by the by) because you sweat constantly here. I love it. 

Also, I got called to be district leader. This is how my mission has gone thus far: First Transfer - Junior Companion, 1 baptism. Second Transfer - Senior Companion, 2 baptisms. Third Transfer - Trainer, 3 baptisms. Fourth transfer (being the current one) - District Leader, yet to be determined baptisms. I'm thinking four. Call me crazy, but that's what I'm feeling. I won't lie, I really feel a little bit unprepared for this responsability, but I trust God and my president. I guess I have something to contribute here. Oh yeah, I didn't write on Monday (I'm really sorry mom) because I was literally traveling all day. I left the bus station at 9:30 in the morning and got to Pachutla at 8:30. Pachutla is a half hour from my area, so that's where I stayed the night. The bus would have been really comfortable if Oaxacans knew how to make straight roads (curves for almost 10 hours do make you sick, no matter how strong a stomach), if the bathroom would have smelled better, if Elder Wagner hadn't of thrown up, if the bus would have had a mop, and if the didn't show movies because, if you can figure, when you are stuck for ten hours on a bus and reading makes you sick and you don't have a choice of listening to the sound or not, you end up watching the movie BrideWars, which does not help you concentrate on the mission, God, or even eternal marriages because I wanted to punch Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudsen by the end.

Anyway, I've got to go. I love my new area, I accidentally left all of my garments and socks in my old one so I have to wait 15 days for them to get mailed to me, I want to know how the Jazz are doing, not how the super bowl went, and I love you all. Sorry that these are so short and boring these days.
Elder Johnson

February 5, 2012

Breaking Lightbulbs

Hey family!

Just to get this burden off your minds, I did already receive my package. I received it on Tuesday, the day after the internet, so I couldn't tell you about it. I've also already eaten my package (craisins are delicious), let my district leader mysteriously break my piano, used the shoes, passed the time when I would need a sweater, and broken a lightbulb with that hackeysack you gave me. Yup, it's been an interesting package that has shaken up the monotony of Bosque.

I say that not because I love Bosque any less than I did. It's just that this last week, the moment arrived when I got bored of the same places, the same people, the same things all the time. I think it's a combination of factors: first, this is about the time of year when my winter funk arrives and I just get bored of everything. I generally contribute this funk to winter because it traps you inside, but that's not the case with Oaxaca. It might be the post holiday letdown I always experience. It could be that I have now been in Bosque longer than a semester, but without the breaks. My body is just begging for a change, which is coming up. This is the last week of the transfer and I've already been in Bosque a long time, so I could easily get moved. However, I have a kid you needs two transfers of training, and we've only been companions for one. So I could also very well be staying. I'm pretty lost as to what's going to happen to me, but for now, I will assume that I'm staying so that I am mentally prepared to weather the boredom and continue to at least strive to be the missionary that I want to be.

(Riley explains a bunch of pictures here, but I just left in the part that has a good story).

Next are pictures of the day when we found out that nerf bullets can stick to your forehead if you shoot at just the right distance. It was a pretty funny discovery. By the way, that nerf gun is one of the Christmas presents I received from the Greenhalgh family. Tell them thanks please. Next is a sick jazz shirt that I found and bought for fifty pesos. Totally worth it. I wear it to bed every night and I have happy dreams. Next are the youth of Ixcotel and Bosque. We play basketball with them. They are pretty cool. Then, Alejandra's baptism which we had yesterday. Then, pictures of Adrian, one of our investigators. He is a lawyer working for a political party and it's election time. So he is working a bunch. He never sees his family or us these days and it was really bothering him. So one day, he was in his car, on the way to work, and he started to pray for help so he could see his family more. He was then struck from behind and is now in the hospital. He thinks he should have died, but didn't because this was God's answer. This is how he can see his family more. He asked us to come give him a blessing and he wanted a picture with his guardian angels. If you want to know more about his story, read Alma fifteen and just know that he wasn't a wicked lawyer before, but he sure had a bunch of questions. It's kind of eerie how similar some Book of Mormon stories are to real life. 

Anyways, I've got to go. I love and miss you all and just know that I'm still doing pretty darn swell here. The weather is nice, the pay is good, and you work with wonderful people. It's a good life. 


Elder Johnson