August 26, 2012

Look at my Shinny Shoes

My life is getting shook up again. I live currently in a house with three other missionaries. Our ward, which we share, is divided into two parts. We work in our part, they work in theirs, and we only really see them at night. We are two different companionships. Now, however, ONE of the other missionaries is getting special transferred away and we are becoming a trio. Our area is combining and we still have to work out the food. Life is weird. Other than that, things are normal. I revisited my centro area today in order to celebrate my companion's 18 month mark. We went with permission and everything. Let me tell you, I cannot believe that I spent three months there and NEVER got my shoes professionally shined in the Zocalo. Totally worth fifteen pesos. I'm surprised people aren't contacting ME with these shoes on. I can imagine it now, "Buenas tard....VAYA! Por favor, me puede enseñar sus zapatos?! ¡Que bonito! Son divinos! Dónde adoren Ustedes a Jesucristo? Quiero conocer más porque sus zapatos brillan tanto." Essentially, I'm looking for a big week of success this week because my shoes are really shiny and nice looking.

The negative part of such a superb shoe job is that now I don't have that much time to write, but I'll do my best. We tried finding new investigators this week. We did okay, ending up with six, but none of them are really screaming "baptize me! Baptize me!" So, we'll probably try to find more new ones this week. The cool thing is that one of the people that we found is Italiano and his sentences are like 70% Italian, 20% Portuguese, 10% Spanish, and 100% unintelligable. Honestly, don't even know if he wants us to come back. But we are. Because we'd be terrible missionaries if he does want us to come back and we don't. I don't want to take that risk. At least his Mexican wife speaks perfect Spanish. That makes things easier.

Other thing that happened: I baptized a niña escrita on Sunday. I've been teaching her non-member mom (Ade) and so she picked me to do the baptism. It was really quite a sweet baptism and I could tell that all of her non-member family members that came (like 5 in total) were really impressed, especially since the eight year old cousin asked his mom when he was going to haqve a baptism. Unfortunately, they do not live in our area. It's a bummer.

We'll end the week with good news: I did get my package. I am really enjoying the iPod and the certs. My companions, even the one from El Salvador, have already identified me as an addict. Which I am. Proudly. I hope they last the year....but probably only gonna last a transfer or two. So I'll be wanting more in my christmas package, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Love you all and hope you are all great. 

 See you in a year!
Elder Johnson

August 19, 2012

Back to Business

Anyway, I really went a week without informing you about ANYTHING that has happened to me as a missionary. Sorry. So, here's my life in a nutshell: my new comp (he's not that new anymore) is Elder Piña, former zone leader, bilingual before the mission, very smart, very sarcastic dynamo. He is anincredibly good teacher. He has a lot of experience. The problem is, he's junior. And he knows it. While I would be perfectly content to follow his lead in planning and in the lessons, he doesn't allow it. He knows, understands, and respects the authority that the senior companion has. So I go along, bumbling my way to several lessons and trying desperately to find some new investigators (we failed epically in our 10 person goal this week - only 2). I feel like I do a lot of things wrong sometimes. But hey, I am learning a ton about how to ask good questions and how straight to the point you actually can be. 

However, we have managed to have a little bit of success. First of all, the other day, we were at Zuri's house (she's one of our recent converts). We had brought her the conference addition of the Liahona and were showing her all of the prophets and apostles (you know that page where they have all the apostles and seventy and whatnot? Yeah, that page). Her mom happened to be home and passed by and saw all the old men and started to ask some questions. Who are they? What do they do? How do you choose them? She was super interested (okay, maybe not super, but definitely pretty interested). She had a ton of the same views that we do and was really, really impressed by our prophets and apostles. 

Other sign of success: Ade. Ade has gone to church for five years. There are few people outside of us, the bishop, and the relief society president, who has wanted to give her a calling for years, who know that she isn't a member. And the thing is, she has work to do before she can become a member. In our first meeting with her, she told us that she didn't believe in Joseph Smith, some of the commandments, or that Jesus Christ came to the Americas. Those are all essentially things to know before being baptized a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But we're working with her. We read 3 Nephi 11 with her and she started crying and said that she hadn't ever been able to read the Book of Mormon before with any sort of level of interest and now she didn't want to put it down. She thought it was beautiful. That's the power of the Book of Mormon for you. 

And so we continue in La Hacienda and in the mission. Things are just sort of going. I am content. I am not looking forward to any specific day or event, but, even more surprisingly, I don't need to. I am fine where I am in the mission. I am happy just to do what the Lord wants me to do in my own little section of the vineyard, wherever that may be. I feel like I will be 12 for a long time. I don't ever really want to think of myself as 18 or 20 or 16. I want to be 12, with just as much ahead of me as behind me, forever. I'm still learning, I'm still feeling the Spirit, I'm still meeting amazing people and seeing amazing places, and I'm still eating weird foods (I just found out that I've eaten a lot of cactus during my mission), but those are all secondary things. I just like being me and trying to help other people be them, children of God as they are. It's a good way to live.

I end my email with something I learned in Priesthood this week. We were talking about Abraham, who was asked by God to sacrifice Isaac. The teacher asked us why we thought that God would do that. He carefully explained that God is all-knowing. He already knew that Abraham was going to obey. So why did God even put him through the trial in the first place? Now, really, there are probably a million reasons why. But I liked what he said to answer his own question: God did it not so that GOD would know how faithful Abraham was but that ABRAHAM would know how faithful Abraham was. We never really know our capacities until we are pushed to them. This is the purpose of our trials. This is why Peter said that the trial of our faith is "much more precious than gold." Because after this event, Abraham could continue, knowing that whatever God would ask him to do in the future, he could and would do. Because he had already faced his hardest trial. He passed. Let's not depreciate our trials futher. Let us embrace them as the gifts that they are. Let us learn to know what we are capable of. We have divine potential. I think we are capable of quite a bit.

Well, love you all. Haven't received my pacakge yet, but maybe I will tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, for sure by next week. I hope you are all doing great and I'll see you in 1.
Elder Johnson

August 13, 2012


Okay mom, I'm going to keep this brief. First of all, we had two great baptismal services this week for Karla, a 15 year old for the world's little engine that could family, and Zuri, an 18 year old who never stops talking. But enough about me. I want to talk about tyrel.

Sounds like you and dad have had big weeks. Lots to do. Lots of changing going on. Dad mentioned some big changes at work, but failed to tell me exactly what they are. Aubrey is moving and taking her cat with her. She will be your first kid not to live in a mostly mormon community by herself. THat's pretty big to me. Taggart got a job (Way to go!!!). And then you have Tyrel. Tyrel is tyrel. He's always been that way and always will be that way. And I, personally, wouldn't have it any way.

I miss Tyrel a lot these days. I tell people, readily, unashamedly, and truthfully that Tyrel is my favorite, pus on his face or no.  I don't really want him to change. The truth is, even if he did start having conversations and did stop stimming, he'd still be Tyrel. And that is the world's greatest thing. Mom, honestly, God has blessed us so much in that stimmy little boy. He is our rock, our little version of our savior. Taggart, in his thanksgiving list, wrote beautifully that Tyrel has never judged him and never will. Tyrel is innocence.  He may flap and stimm and click when we say words that end in k, but, really mom, we couldn't have it any other way. We need Tyrel.  Who loves us always? Tyrel. No friend, companion, ex girlfriend, or other brotherly, routinely checks to see if and when I am coming home. I may lose friends, fight with family members, grow apart from everybody I used to hang out with, but Tyrel will always, always, always be there, stimms and all. He may not be a miracle child, but he is no less of a miracle for me. I worked with him, I say to my companions. I work with Autistic kids, I say. What a pathetic description of the priviledge I used to have.

 I know that he loves peace and quiet, just like his dad (could Heavenly Father really have picked a more perfect pair? They really will ride off in the sunset together, dad reading his Louie Lemoire book with his monoscope and tyrel cuddled beside, little recorded still clutched in his hand). I know what his real laugh sounds like, when he loses control and just starts to giggle. Taggart and I used to have that stupid breathe in laugh. Tyrel's is a giggle. I speak Tyrel. I may have forgotten most of my music, but I still can quote every last mario character down to the voice inflection. I realized that the other day. He's no different from any other kid really. We just have to get to know him. 

I don't cry very much. That's been true here in the mission. I'm not one of those that cries at every spiritual moment, every testimony, every baptismal date. I just don't do it. I cry when I talk about the Resurrection. Almost without fail. Why? Because, thanks to the Perfect life of Jesus Christ, thanks for the perfect plan of Redemption, thanks to the fall of Adam, every man, woman, and child that has ever taken on a body in this earth will be Resurrected. Tyrel is one of them. And when we are resurrected, we will take on resurrected, glorified bodies, leaving behind pains and sicknesses, heartattacks, aching hips, crappy kidneys, and Autism. In that day (and we WILL be together. We are not losing any one of the seven, I promise), we all will reunite, and every single one of us, almost simultaneously will turn to our brother Tyrel, to hear, for the first time, what he really has to say. I made a mistake earlier in this email. I said he may not be that miracle child you wanted. I was wrong. He will be. Just not in your time table. In God's. Miracles happen. God is a God of miracles and will reward your faith and diligence and patience. And one day, you will wake up and tomorrow will be the day of that miracle, whether it's the resurrection or before. Read Mosiah 24 for the power of faith and patience.
And you know what the first thing Tyrel will say will be? "I love you Mom. I love you Dad. I love you Aubrey. I love you Taggart. I love you Riley. I love you Colton," just like he says right now. And then he'll probably ask to see if anybody else is coming, just like he does now. I certainly hope that's the case. I love him, I love you, I love our family. Truly and sincerely.

And I'll see you in a year.
Elder Johnson

August 5, 2012

Special Changed Again

So, I never technically get special changed. I always stay in my area. But they take away my companions quite consistently. And I was just starting to like Elder Flores quite a bit. I'll start with him and then get to explaining my new companion Elder Piña in a bit.

Alright, first and foremost, yes, la Hacienda is an missionary name and not a neighborhood name. I technically live in Santa Cruz Amilpas Infonovit. I also live with 4 missionaries for the first time in my mission. Elder Flores is 24 and awesome. He only has five months in the mission, but he already teaches better than me. He loves to bother Elder Diaz, who's from El Salvador. He's quite good at it too. It's a little bit hysterical because Elder Flores is, well, in Mexico and Peru, a Giant, and Elder Diaz is pretty small. Much smaller than me. THeir witty banter made my day. Also, Elder Flores is a convert. He got baptized when he was 14 years old. He's already graduated from college and he's really smart. It was a pleasure to teach with him. I could embark in whatever direction that I felt I should go, and he was capable of not only following, but also explaining clearer than I could the message that I wanted to communicate. It's a shame it was such a short companionship. Also, the ward loves him. One investigator (one of our three investigators with a baptismal date) described him as an angel of light, which prompted me to caution that even the devil can disquise himself as an angel of light. Elder Flores quite appreciated that. Also, ElderFlores hates Justin Bieber quite as much as I do and loves the Dark Knight quite as much as I do. By the way, if you see the new batman movie, don't tell me ANYTHING about it. I don't want to know. 

On to Elder Piña because Elder Flores got special changed today. Elder Piña has more time in the mission than me, 17 months.  It's my first companion with more time than me since Elder Juarez. I'm pretty excited because Elder Piña seems super pilas. He seems like he just wants to do good.  He's gonna help me a ton on the execution part of being a missionary. I'm good at the working hard, having the spirit, obeying part. NOt so good at the creative, thinking of new ideas, following through part. 

Yeah, anyway, so we should have two baptisms this week. Elder Flores and Elder Slighting did some pretty good work before I got here, so I'm inheriting a lot of good work. I'm also inheriting Sury, an 18 year girl who wants to get baptized.

Anyways, I love my new area, love my new companion (and my old one), and look forward to working hard on my mission birthday. Don't worry about the package, it will arrive eventually. I don't need packages right now. I have a lot new going on so I need nothing to distract me from the routine. There is not routine when special changes are just around the corner. Love you all, I'm excited for Aubrey too. Look forward to hearing from Colton. I think I might write Taggart next week if I get the time. CHurch is true, I know. I love preaching the gospel