July 29, 2012

Area Four

I got transferred. Bummer. I was getting quite attached to the idea of staying in Fortín for another transfer. I quite liked it there. But this is why you never get attached to things so fickle: they don't last. Luckily, they sent me to a good area with a good companion, so I can't complain. Elder Flores seems pretty awesome so far. First Hispanic companion I've had who's taller than me. He's from Peru, likes rock music, knows the area well, and is quite honest. I'm cool with all those attributes.

Okay, just some updates. Carlos scared me this week. He was going to get baptised on Saturday and did not. What happened was, we had our appointment on Tuesday when all the sudden he sent us a text, in all caps, that said he couldn't see us today or any other day this week. That scared me. And he was good to his word until friday when he said that he had to see us and that he really wanted to talk to us about something. That also scared me. Then we talked, and it was usual carlos stuff. He told us that he was sure that 80% of what we say is truth and that he was still working on the other stuff. So Sunday, he did NOT come to Church like he promised. That scared me. Then, in the third hour he sent me a text that said he had been praying a lot and was now really sure that he wants to get baptized. I saw him today. He wanted to say goodbye to me. He gave me a book and said he was still sure that this is the true Church. That guy's getting baptized. Great way to end Fortín, I'll tell you. Absolutely great.

Anyway, I think that it. I've got to unpack and work and get to know my new area abit. Love you all. When I write you next, I'll be five days from the year mark. Think on that. Wow, things are flying. Well, see you in 2!

Elder Johnson

July 22, 2012

The New Mandate

Presidente Leyva issued code 0332: NI. Apparently, Mission Mexico Oaxaca is having trouble finding New Investigators. It's mission wide. Everybody is finding like only one or two new investigators per week. That's pretty bad, I won't lie. I can recognize that. Yet I got pretty deceived myself because I have like five potential baptisms on my hands (two that already have dates!). I told myself that I would look for new investigators, but that I couldn't do it at expense of these five people who needed help, time, and patience. That's about when President issued the mandate. He said that he was going to put a mission wide goal of 10 new investigators per week per companionship. 10! When we get four, that's good. Mind all of you from other missions, every mission is different, every group of people is different, and Oaxaca is especially different. It's just how it goes. so don't get caught up on the numbers. 

Point is, I've never found 10 investigators in one week during my whole mission. 8 is my highest. Now I've got to get 10 weekly. Wooh boy, test of faith for sure. But I'm determined to pass. I know President is inspired, I know that there are ten people out there, and I know that I just need to put doubt aside and do it. So that's what I'm going to do this week. Find new investigators. And baptize. Because Carlos will be getting baptized on Saturday. He assures me of it and he's never lied when he assures me of something like that. When he says he is going to Church, he goes. When he says he'll see us, he sees us. When he says he'll read, he reads. So when he says something like, "I'll get baptized this Saturday," for sure, he'll be getting baptized this Saturday. I'm super excited about it. I just hope he stays active.

Isabella is going well too. She accepted a baptismal date for the 28 of July. I'll be having more than one baptism in a month for the first time since February, if all goes as plan. Then again, we know what they say about the plans of mice and men. I guess it's just God's plan that counts. I'm okay with that. 

By the by, transfers are next monday. Guessing really doesn't help or indicate anything, but, my guess is that I stay and Elder Varela goes because Elder Varela has not adjusted well to the altitude of the climate of the city and would be far more at home in the Itsmo or on the Coast. I've told president about this because I try to take good care of my companions. I don't like hearing "Oh que dolor" every morning because of a headache. WE've already been to the doctor twice and called the hermana leyva twice. It worries me.

Things are going great here in the Mission, I won't lie. I hit a little patch of boredom this week, but I shook it off by buying myself a new tie for the first time in my mission. And by searching for new investigators. This week, I'll be baptizing and looking for new investigators. I don't think I'll get bored again. Besides, even if I do, I'll just put my shoulder to the wheel and push along. It's not really a problem to complain about it any way. 

Good for Taggart. I had way too much fun at school too. BYU really is a great place. I'm glad I'll only have three weeks rest inbetween my mission and BYU when I get back. Any more and I'd get bored, any less and I wouldn't have enough time to do everything I wanted.   It is raining less often here but more torrentially when it does rain. I still love the rainy season. I also wanted to comment on your prayer thing. 2 Nephi 32, in the last two verses, states that an evil spirit teaches a man not to prayer. Therefore, if we say, "I'm tired, I'll say a prayer in the morning" or "I'm angry, I don't want to talk to God while angry" or "I don't have time to say a prayer" or any of those other excuses we think of as legitimate to not say a prayer, we are listening to the voice of Satan. He does NOT want us to have a real, personal connection with our Heavenly Father. Heaven Forbid we realize our importance to the Almighty. Heaven forbid we remember all that He's done for us and all that he'll do for us. Heaven forbid we use the power we have in these mortal bodies, the thing Satan lacks and wants, to kneel down, humble ourselves, and invite the Spirit of the Lord to come upon us. And Satan and the Spirit cannot coexist. He will have to leave when our invited guest comes. That's his punishment for rebelling in the first place. So pray. Any, any, absolutely any time you feel you shouldn't pray, that is the time to say a prayer in your heart. Because it is Satan telling you not to, and every time we listen to him, we give him pòwer. That's what I've learned in the mission. To say a lot of prayers.

Well, love you all, I appreciate the emails (especially yours and dads), and I'll see you in two!

Elder Johnson

July 15, 2012

That was promising!

Things are good again in Fortín. THey are never not good here honestly. I'm almost to the point of bragging about my area. Everytime I seem to be getting close to a period here when I don't have many investigators and it looks like I'm going to need to put my nose to the grindstone knocking doors, they just give me a reference. It's amazing. And two of the references are really turning out. One, named Isabel, came to Church with us. From the way she talks, she's looking for a Church and this seems to be the right fit. We'll be putting a  baptismal date with her in the next lesson. Then there's Marlena, who we haven't been able to teach for like two weeks because her dad is dying, who recently told us that she's super interested in this whole baptisms for the dead thing. I wonder why. SHe's also looking like the next baptismal date candidate. It's looking more and more like we'll have 3 baptisms in the month of July, which would really be awesome for me. 

Speaking of baptismal candidates, Carlos is still pretty awesome about his new and shiny baptismal date. He's quite ready, already invited his mom, and keeps telling us that he only has like, "one or two more question" which is his way of saying that he really likes what he is hearing and feeling. He admitted to us the other day that he has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and that this religion has the answers to everything. It's a good thing. He also knows a ton of the ward members now. I'm really excited for him because three weeks ago, I was NOT thinking that he would be well on his way to a baptism. 

Other fun news: Guelaguetza started! Guelaguetza is this giant festival that Oaxaca has each summer to celebrate Oaxacan culture. There are dances and food and music and traditional clothing and everything. It takes place in the Zocalo and the auditorium Guelaguetza. Guess what two cultural attractions are in my area? Zocalo and the auditorium Guelaguetza. There are lots of fire works every night now. It lasts until the end of the month. There are a ton of gringos here now too. I feel like I'm in America sometimes. TOO MUCH ENGLISH!!! I'll have to send you fotos sometime when I remember to bring my camera. 

Honestly, I just enjoyed working this week and teaching a lot of lessons. It's good to remember that when we are doing the right thing, we feel right. If we are not, we feel bad. This week I spent a lot of time teaching lessons and doing the right thing (there was even this funny story of when we stopped to help this guy pull his truck out of a ditch. My companion had just bought a fresca and doritos and set them down on the grass to help with the truck. When we finished, we turned around to find that somebody had stolen the fresca. We have officially been robbed for the first time in our collective missions!!! We laughed about it and mostly just felt good for doing a spontaneous act of service). Therefore, we feel good. I hope to keep that up this week. Time seems to be flying by and I really don't want this transfer to end, but, de modos, things will be good afterwords too. It's just what happens. 

One final thought: patience is an incredible attribute. I don't have nearly enough of it. I seem to think that everything I do is right and everything everybody else does is wrong. And it bothers me. It's so easy to realize my faults every day. I just got to keep telling myself, "patience, patience, patience." With me, with my companion, with everybody. Nobody works at my same pace, whether faster or slower. That's why we need patience. We'll get everybody on the same track that way. I'm sure of it.

Love you all, miss you all, hope it cools down up there like it is down here.

Elder JOhnson

July 8, 2012


Dear mom,

So this week had several large highlights.....and not much else. It rained a lot and it's been on the cooler end of things. I guess it's hot over there? Well, maybe if I was still in the coast I'd be able to beat you all out with heat, but I'm in the city and it is the rainy season, so things have been cool here. I love it. My companion hates it. We don't really talk in the morning much, Elder Varela and I, but mostly because we're both tired, personal study should be reverent anyways, and Elder Varela's vocabulary before 11 consists only of "oh que frio." I think it feels just as a perfect spring should feel - although I do acknowledge that July is well outside of what most normal people would consider "spring." That's just how things are down here in Oaxaca.

Anyways, the 4th of July is coming up and I will be celebrating it by.....bringing a cake to a recent convert! Yup, that's right, Michelle (who was baptized in March and is struggling with balancing her school and her religion), was born on the fourth of July. Freedom ring. Other than that, I'll just be doing some normal missionary stuff, trying to find new investigators, something that I failed to do this last week completely. 

Oh, yes, I should get to the highlights, shouldn't I? Navith got baptized!!! And I baptized her! And it was fun. It was a tiny little service because of the strange day and time (Wednesday at 4 - who isn't working at that hour?), but it was nice and Navith enjoyed it. That`s the most important part. She got confirmed this Sunday too, so now we're already in the part of making sure she stays active. It might be a little difficult because she seems kind of resistent to the idea of getting to know the young women. But will figure out a way to make it work. WE've got the Lord.

THe other highlight is that Isai finally came to church! His bosses finally softened their hearts a bit and changed the schedule so that he had mornings off on Sunday. So he came. Late, unshaven, but smiling. It was good. It was a testimony meeting, so I hope that he felt the Spirit. Carlos, unfortunately did not come, but he was thoughtful enough so call us afterwords and assure us that he had wanted to go but couldn't and that he wanted to see us on Tuesday. I'm hoping to put the baptismal date with him tuesday. Actually, I'm hoping Elder Varela will do it. I take pride in the accomplishments of my children.

Other than those, however, it was kind of tough this week. A lot of cancelled appointments and a lot of walking. We (Elder Varela) lost the keys one day. It was tiring, unfruitful work. Which, following God's Laws of patience, probably means I need to learn something new. Go figure. Or, following God's law of happy missionaries, means that I will have a good week this week. Maybe the both. I hope the both. But yeah, things are still good here, still a lot of hope, and Fortin is still the only area that has managed to baptise in each of the last three months. And all are active! Yeah for Fortin!!!

Anyway, love you all and I miss you. Light off some fireworks for me (although I did get to see some last night from the roof of my house - it was election day and Peña Nieto was celebrating his win). Hope you think of me while in Oklahoma. If you really do end up going the first week of August, you will be vacationing right as I hit my one year mark....does that mean I get a vacation too? Kidding! Don't want one. Outside of P-day, of course. THose are essential. Tell Colton to get his butt outside for me. I didn't leave him those frisbee discs for nothing.

Elder Johnson

July 1, 2012

Carlos Version 2.0

Dear Mother, Father, and Family,

I'm getting pretty excited about the upcoming year mark. I am officially less than one transfer away from turning the big 12 months in the mission. Not that I want the end to come any faster than it is. I'm actually enjoying my mission more than ever right now, which is saying something. I love my area right now. I love the rainy season. I love working with investigators who feel the Spirit. I love it.

Anyways, let's get business out of the way first: I did, in fact, receive both your package and the pictures from dad. Thank you for all of that. I specificallly enjoyed Tyrel's picture that he colored for me. I have in hung up in my room, between the pictures of Jesus Christ and.....Jesus Christ. Missionaries don't have much variety. By the by, the fact that I hung up pictures should tell you how much I want to stay here in Fortín. You sent me those pictures a billion years ago and I didn't hang them up until right now because this is really the first time that I'm determined to stay for at least 10 more weeks. Fortin is awesome.

Okay, specifically, why I am so happy this week. Carlos had a change of heart. Let me remind you who Carlos is: Carlos  is 22 years old, and a nerd (I say that lovingly). It's the last part that's the problem because he always has a lot of questions about things that are that important for him right now. For example, imagine, when all he needs to focus on right now is reading the Book of Mormon and praying and recognizing your answer, trying to satisfactorily not explain Kolob to him. He just focused on the wrong things. And they confused him....which sent him on a series of radical decisions, including going a spiritual trip with some Christian group and selling all of his religious books, even his Book of Mormon. He absolutely could not accept Joseph Smith, he told us, and he still didn't know how to recognize the Spirit in his life, despite our best efforts to describe it to him. So we pretty much had given him up for dead. And then we met his friend Clarisa.

See, we passed by his house one day and decided to stop by really just to say hi. He is never home, so we weren't expecting much. But then he was home, and he was with a friend, and she had interest in the Church. With left that five minute visit with an appointment for the next day with the two. And we showed up, quite excited to teach our new investigator. We had prepared a lesson especially for our new investigator. If you hadn't noticed, we were pretty preocupied with our new investigator and were not thinking of Carlos for all.

As it turns out, Clarisa is everything Carlos was, times ten. She started out by asking us about Polygamy and taking notes on our answer. She doesn't believe in God, but rather a thing called Ser (Spanish for Be) and refuses to accept "any argument dependent on faith". Yeah, not the world's easiest investigator. I was about ready to just testify, invite her to pray and get out of there when Carlos begain to just trash the arguments of his friend. He went off, lecturing on how you had to "feel" God to know that he is true, and how important faith is, and that in the end, everything really is just simple. He almost couldn't control himself. We ended the lesson and Carlos told us, without invitation, "Elders, I am coming to Church this Sunday. FOR SURE" and he sure did. I don't exactly know what happened in the two weeks without us visiting him between selling his Book of Mormon and demanding a new one, but I like it and I'm pretty sure it has something to do with God and the Holy Ghost. I'm super excited for him and I think I will put a baptismal date with him this week. Cross your fingers.

Love you all, but got to go. See you in 2!

Elder Johnson