May 27, 2012

Scrapbook Queen

So hey there all. We've got good news here in Fortin. Put another Baptismal date. And she's looking to be super ready for this coming sunday because not only did she come to church, but she also sent us a text afterword thanking us for the wonderful gospel principles class (we taught it because the bishop took our teacher and made him go to temple prep class). She was also very worried that we would stop coming after her baptism, so I'm pretty sure she likes this whole missionary thing and she is definitely thinking about baptism. She's gonna be fine. Her name is Itamar and she is the niece of a super-awesome recent convert named Oliva. I'm super excited about it. It'll be my first baptism since like the beginning of March. Kind of overdue, I think. Nothing like the purity of a baptism to just get you going again.

Outside of that, some funny Mexico news: alright, you should know that everybody here wears shirts written in English. No, they do NOT know how to read english. Yet they wear shirts with English words on them. Sometimes, it is just something something harmless, like a brand name. Other times the results are rather hilarious. Like when we saw a forty-five year old automechanic walking around in a purple muscle shirt (I'm sure modified by him) that boldly stated, "Scrapbook Queen." We wanted to ask for his autograph. Another story: we went to go look for an inactive member one day and we knocked on the door of her housing complex (it was raining pretty hard this day) and an old man answered. He immediately let us in. We thought, "Great, we didn't find Marta, but this guy could be a new investigator." We, the good missionaries that we are, started to contact him. We asked if he had time to talk. He asked us where we would like to talk. We suggested inside. He responded that we were talking out here, weren't we. We responded, a little bit confused, that yes, we were talking out here. We asked him what his beliefs were. He asked us if we believed his dog believed in God. We were confused. He ask us if his dog could think and feel. We responded that yes, the dog could. He told us that of course the dog could think and feel, why would we ever suggest otherwise? We gently explained that we never suggested otherwise and that we were sure that his poor dog had a place in heaven. He asked us if we were Menonites. We said no. He then said, "So I bet you're not Mormons, right?" Well, sir, yes, yes we are the Mormons. He then asked us if we had a telephone. We said we had a cellphone. No, he wanted a telephone. We told him we didn't have one in the house. He asked us if we had a house. We told him that we had just barely told him that we had a house. The conversation continued that way for quite some time. I was really confused. I think he's kind of crazy. But it was funny.

 The final funny Mexico story of the week is when, walking down the street on Sunday, we encountered Mariano. Mariano is a very nice, very catholic, 95 year old man. But he is still alive and kicking. He doesn't hear so well, but he loves talking. We doesn't see so well, but he loves walking around crowded Central Oaxaca. He planched us (read: scolded severely) for working on a Sunday, the Lord's day. It was hilarious coming from him. And he did it very nicely. I love old people. Him and Wilivaldo from Puerto Angel should just ride off into the Sunset together.

Anyway, I want to mention something that dad wrote in his email to me. He talked about how the Sacrament was our way of renewing our baptismal covenant, the only covenant that we renew. I love it. It was already somehting that I was employing in my lesson 3's, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the End. We continually do all parts of it. Often, we think of it as a checklist (missionaries included), "Alright, I've got some faith, I've repented of my most recent sins, guess it's time to get baptized." Or, "Well, now that I've got the Holy Ghost, the only thing I have to worry about is that enduring to the end thing." Well, the truth of it all is this: enduring to the end IS repeated the process over and over and over. We never should stop repenting. It's how we get closer to God. Our faith is constantly being weakened and strengthened. We have to continue nourishing it. And, well, baptism and the Holy Ghost are things we do over and over again in Sacrament meeting. The Sacrament prayers mention that if we keep our baptismal covenant, we will "always have His Spirit" with us. That's eerily similar to the promise of receiving the gift of the holy ghost. Also, the Sacrament is what keeps God forgiving us. We receive a remission of our sins when we are baptized. If we continue repenting and taking the sacrament after, we continue receiving that. It's a wonderful thing. The sacrament is SO important for us and it's something that I never truly understood before. The Sacrament is absolutely ESSENCIAL in our spiritual development and almost nothing about the rest of the three hour block. While the rest is good and spiritually uplifting as well, it doesn't even come close to the importance of those very sacred ten minutes of the Sacrament. Read 3 Nephi 27 19 and think about what the water represents. I always use that in connection with the importance of the sacrament.

Anyway, got to go, Things are awesome here and the investigators are super. Big ole conference tomorrow and I don't really know why. Talk to y'all next week
See ya in two years!
Elder Johnson

May 20, 2012

I just talked to you

So, i just talked to you the other day. I don't really know what to say because not much has happened except a little more rain (that we worked through), me getting my packages and eating A LOT of candy, and Church, where we suddenly realized that we have a lot of work to do before the activity this  coming Saturday. I have to decorate a freaking Event salon in orderly to properly teach about the afterlife. Man, I wish the obra misional wouldn't depend so much on my creativity. That's always a bad thing. 

Anyways, so this week is about doing your best. In Puerto, I never really felt that good enough. It didn't matter if I was teaching 22 lessons a week or struggling to find a single new investigator, I never felt content with the day's work. Now I do. I recognize I have improvement to do, and I make plans to go and do it, but it doesn't shake the good feeling that I have. That's because these days I am doing my best in everything I do, not just in some aspects. If we strive in everything, whether it is planning, organizing, being enthusiastic, or following the rules, we will feel better, no matter the results. I like being happy as I fall exhausted into bed. So i'm gonna try to keep it up this week. I'm gonna keep going. It's a nice way to live. Exhausted, yet satisfied. I think that's one of the things that the mission has taught me. Being tired isn't so bad. Yeah, you can't keep your thoughts straight, but you feel good. And that's the far more important thing.

Okay, quick favor: I'd like kumi Greenhalgh's email address. She has sent me to packages now, and I think I owe her some sort of thank you. She is definitely one of the coolest people on the planet. Fer sure. Yup.

PUes, I love you all and I'll write next week, with a whole week's worth of fun activities to share with you all. Look forward to it. Please. Bye.
Elder Johnson

May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

Okay, so I should probably fill you in on how my first week in Fortin went. It was fun. I like it here. I love having a ward with real leaders and real sacrament meetings. Specifics: I spent most of the week getting to know the ward and the investigators. Back in Puerto, when I had to beg and grovel and essentially sell my soul for a reference (kidding: not that bad. There just weren't references to give), I was quite surprised when members just willingly gave us names and directions (I was also surprised that the city has street names because puerto does not). The food here is delicious. We already have some potential baptisms. There are people who speak fluent English in my ward. We have a ward mission leader (he's bald, but you can't win em all). And I sometimes feel like I'm back in America, the shops and steets are so nice. I am in the central part of the city this time round and it is my favorite looking area by far so far. We'll see how the work turns out, but I think good. After my crises with putting up low numbers despite lots of work the last two transfers, this transfer I've decided just to try my best and whatever happens happens., I'm just going to try to do good. 

The highlight of the week was a family home evening with a less active-recent convert pairing of two sisters. We made philly cheese steak sandwiches with them, they gave us pineapple mangos (just as delicious as they sound) and we watched a movie. It was a fun night and what do ya know, the next day they were at church. It was fun. I'm having fun again. And working hard. And being obedient. It is on the far side of great. 
I'll fill you in on more thursday, so stay tooned!
Elder Johnson

May 6, 2012

Back at Hogwarts

Transfer time! They moved me. I won't draw that part out. Now, to explain to where they moved me. Hmmmm......remember a place called Bosque? The place where I spent the first 4 and a half months of my mission? Yeah, so Bosque was a ward in a stake called Amapolas. It's the smallest stake of the four city stakes (Monte Alban, Atoyac, Mitla, and Amapolas). And I got put back in it, in the ward of Fortin. So I'm in the city again, which means that the reason that I didn't write on Monday was as simple as the fact that I was on a bus for 12 straight hours. Didn't have time. So I'm writing today.

Okay, so now to what's going on with me. I'm happy to be out of Puerto. I wish the best for that little branch and I hope the best for Elder Perez and Elder Edwards, the Elders currently there, but as for me, I know this is God blessing me and telling me, "Hey, I helped you out. Now get to work" which is exactly what I plan to do. But, some bright spots in a pretty quiet week: We put our first baptismal date in five weeks. Maria, the President's niece, asked us some baptismal questions and so we decided to talk about baptism with her. She's nervous about things still, but I think she is looking for a church and this seems like the one she wants right now. So there's hope. She's already been to church once. She only needs to start going consistently now and listen to the missionaries a bit more. Other good thing: the youth activity. It went GREAT! Everybody come, like 11 youth in total (that's like literally half the active part of the branch), plus the Rodas family. And then we went to Pochutla and they had a ton of people there too!!! So it went great. Everybody had a good time, I took some pictures of my Puerto converts (finally) and there was some really good Coconut water. Success. HOpe the family home evening goes equally well in my absence.

I guess I should tell you about my new companion too. His name is Elder Ellsworth and he's still pretty new to the mission. His spanish is good for a newbie, but not up to independent level yet. We're still trying to figure out the area together. He's from Arizona and seems like a pretty chill guy. I'm looking forward to this transfer a lot. I've only taught a couple of lessons so far, but I've already found some potential baptisms amongst our investigators. Definitely not Puerto Angel. Lastly: City food is MUCH better than coast food. Just letting you know. And the catholic churches here are huge. 

Well, got to go, but I love you and we will get the phonecall worked out Monday, I promise. I'm still a district leader, but my district is just me and the zone leaders, so I've got a good flow of information. WE'll be fine. See you next week!

Elder Johnson

Where Riley lives

Riley building a store

Riley eating an iguana taco