February 24, 2013

Dear Mom,
Hey!!! They didn’t change me! Or my companion! Or any Elder in my district! The only change that happened was now our Zone Leader (the guy I report to) is Elder Trejo, who just finished his turn as assistant. So I’m hoping he whips me into shape. He’s pretty much a boss, from what I’ve heard, so I’m pretty excited. It’s always nice to have somebody pushing you. Honestly. I would not have said that, I think, a year ago. Gosh I love the mission. It’s such a special time of life.

Well, a pretty cool thing happened this week. First of all, it was one of those weeks where we lost like two complete days to travel (first, we had a zone conference on Wednesday and had to go to Oaxaca. Second, we had a baptismal interview on Friday and had to go to Tlaxiaco). So we were kind of crunched in our time to meet our goals and whatnot, especial since we wanted to increase the number of baptismal dates we had. But then, God sent us a tiny miracle.

See, there’s this girl named Andrea. She’s the granddaughter of the Relief Society President.  Andrea has wanted to get baptized for a long time now (she’s 21, by the way). She’s heard all of the missionary lessons a couple of times and has been to Church plenty of times. She’s studying in Puebla, and so when she’s out there, she actively goes to Institute. Problem is, she’s here every weekend and so has to get baptized here, which means dealing with her not so supportive family. We’ve actually only taught her once in my entire time here in Huajuapan. My comp had already explained to me the situation. So we showed up and just read chapter 24 of Mosiah, which is the chapter where the people of Alma have to use their patience in order to overcome their lamanite taskmasters. We talked about what she could do to overcome the person who was telling her that she couldn’t obey the commandments of God and how in the end, the right thing to do will always be the right thing to do, even if somebody gets upset at us for doing it. We taught this lesson a couple of weeks ago.

This last week, however, Andrea calls us to tell us that she’s decided to get baptized, no matter what others say.  She wants to get baptized in like two weeks. I’m excited. I hope she stays firm in her decision. Because, honestly, it’s true. Sometimes, it’s not going to be convenient to  keep the commandments. Sometimes, somebody is going to get upset if we do keep the commandments. That’s how good Satan is. He incites the hearts of the children of men to wrath against the good things of God. But all that wrath doesn’t change the fact that we have to keep the commandments. At least God won’t be mad at us. He will bless us during and after our periods of trial. We’ve just got to trust in Him. I love how God works. It’s so perfect.

I'll be praying for Tyrel this week. I hope everything continues to do well up there. I'm perfectly happy down here. See you in 2 years!
Elder Johnson

February 17, 2013

The first Baptism!

We baptized somebody! And it was my comps first baptism ever! I was very happy for him. It went spectacularly well, from our viewpoint. A bunch of members came, including some inactive member and a non-member came! We'll start teaching him on Tuesday. We had a good while changing activity as well. We brought a bunch of pictures and paintings of Christ and we had the members write their testimonies and messages to ___________. It was very spiritual, from our standpoint. The problem is________ has decided to get in the way. Her grandmother said that if she got baptized she was going to disown her as a granddaughter and her mother threatened to kick her out of the house. The only way she managed to stay there is that she is the only one of the family that has a paying job, so kicking her out would mean not having money. THat's it. It wasn't love, or family ties that kept ___________ in that house. It was money. I don't understand how the world can be so blighted and wrong sometimes. THat family doesn't even go to the Catholic Church, yet the fact that _________ got baptized in a different Church is so offensive to TRADITION that all love was forgotten. I hope __________ will be a good example for her family. They can change with time.

 On Wednesday, we should be going to the temple, which is going to be a blessing after being a hassle. We almost don't have time for the six hour drive and whatnot. We might have to go down on Tuesday night, which means we'll miss a ton of work time. I do not like that idea. I'd much rather just get up early so that we can save time. But we'll see. I'll have to talk to my comp about it all. I had an interesting situation with my comp the other day. He got super, super stressed - because of the baptism, because of divisions, because of giving a talk, because of the upcoming changes - and he almost couldn't work. He stopped sleeping, he started having nosebleeds, headaches, etc. He was down and depressed. This was a problem because I honestly don't know how to deal with stress. I'm not a stressed person. I don't generate stress well. So I didn't know how to help him. Luckily, God blessed us a lot, and sent me some revelation, and now we're all good. He feels a lot better and we should be able to work this week with little distraction. I'm excited for that. You learn how to do a lot new things on the mission, I can tell you that.

They Church is true. God wrote the Book of Mormon and it is, above anything, a testament of Jesus Christ, of His divinity and reality. I love it, I love Him, and I love the mission. I'll see you next week!

February 10, 2013

Clean Sidewalks

Tlaxiaco, the other area in my district, baptized on Saturday. So now it's our turn. We should be baptizing __________ on Saturday. Only one problem: COPPEL IS THE DEVIL!!  Coppel, for our non-mexican readers, is a big store like unto Best Buy or something like that. We know five inactive members, including the first counselor in the Bishopric, who only don't go to Church because Coppel makes them work on Sundays. And _____________ just got a job there. And she didn't go to Church on Sunday. I'm REALLY worried. Especially because when we saw her this week she said that she had gotten her answer from God and she looked really happy. I don't want her to have this trial. But I guess it's not really about what I want, is it? It's about what the Lord wants. My job is just to support and help _______________ in whatever way I can. Let's all have faith that we can figure this out.

Other than that, this was like the first week where we didn't have any major blows to our work schedule - no divisions, no baptismal interviews, no sick days, nothing (actually, on Sunday, my comp did get sick, but it was just because he ate really spicy food really fast to end a fast and he hasn't gotten used to spicy food yet. So it wasn't like a sick sick. Just a temporary sick). We just got to work. We actually had to do divisions as well, but I was in charge of planning them and not the Zone Leaders so they went a lot smoother and wasted less time. I got to work with Elder Teig. He's a good elder with like 13 months in the mission. He's from Utah and is the youngest of nine children, and he looks like he's about eight. He just got that baby face still. He's kind of quiet, but he's a really hard worker and he gets along well with people, so he should be fine. I just hope his comp helps him with Spanish.

Funny thing happened to me this week, actually on Monday after I had already written you. We were walking in the street and here, in Mexico, just so you know, it is common to clean the sidewalk (yup) with a bucket of soapy water and a broom. We saw some lady doing that, but she appeared to be taking a break, since she was just sort of zoning off staring at the street with the bucket of soapy water in her hands. We, without thinking, kept walking. Right as I crossed her path, she turned and threw the bucket of water with all her might. I got drenched. I stood there in shock for like 10 seconds. She stood there in shock for like 15. THen, I just laughed and kept walking. I mean, what else was I going to do, get mad? It was accidental and there was nothing we could do about it at that point anyway. She, however, thought differently. She got mad at me for walking on the public sidewalk and for being in the way of her errantly thrown bucket of water. Yeah, I don't quite get that either. Luckily, some nice ladies who saw the whole thing backed me up and told me that bucket lady was a little bit insane for getting mad. I just thought the whole thing was pretty funny.

Just so you know, Huajuapan has the world's coolest mormon old ladies ever. THe Hermana Matamoros is like 80 and she just tells it like it is. SHe's a boss. The Hermana Morales is 70 and she gracefully planches testigos de Jehovah on a weekly basis (no, don't do that, show them love, say the laughing missionaries. But she just keeps on planching). And I have no idea how old the Hermana Chabelita is, but she's sweeter that boiled granola bar (which, for those of you outside the world of Taggart, David, and Spencer, BGB is a camping dish composed of granola bars, water, all remaining honey, and about 40 metric tons of sugar). I want to be one of them when I grow up.

I tried to give you some new pictures. Let's see if you get them. The one with my comp in front of the map is the picture of the batman drawing he did for me. That's right, that sucker is mine. Guess what's going up amidst all the jazz decorations in my future room? That baby.

I don't know if I've told you all this but I love the mission. When I'm walking and talking with my comp, I just get this happy feeling. The mission is honestly the best thing that ever happened to me. I don't want it to end any time soon. If we (especially me) could all just do things the way the Lord want them to be done, we would just be happy. The Lord has a perfect plan of happiness. If this is what we really want, why don't we follow it?

Anyways, sorry about the box price change. Honestly, though, thinking about it, you've probably only got one more box to send between now and next year, so it shouldn't affect you too much. Then again, I think I read that part of your email thinking pesos and not dollars. AS for DAniel, I'm glad to hear he is getting better. I'm also glad to know that Lora is using this trial to strengthen her faith and not weaken it. That's really what trials are for, the strengthening of our faith. There are many trials, and many things that I don't understand, but we should never, ever use them as an excuse to not do what the Lord wants. If we do, we are just denying ourselves the good part of a hard trial. 

Love you all. I love God and I love His commandments. The Church is true. Don't doubt that. I'll see you in a year!
Elder Johnson

February 3, 2013

So I started off the week super excited, ready to meet goals and work my butt off and just be a missionary and everything went super well until about Wednesday when my comp literally couldn't speak at all (he communicated with through only the Spirit and written messages) and felt like his bones were in the process of shattering. So we did the only logical thing and tried to work. Kidding! That was Thursday morning when he still felt the same way, but on Wednesday morning, we went to the doctor and he essentially said that we had to rest the whole day. So we did, with Hermana Leyva's permission. I got really bored because, unfortunately, we are too pilas right now. The house was clean. The area book was organized and updated, and I couldn't leave. I got bored. So, like I said, on Thursday we tried to go work even though my comp couldn't speak still and still felt like tiny little creatures were constantly taking jack hammers to his bones. It didn't really work out, so we ending up resting AGAIN, under the Hermana Leyva's stict orders. I went crazy and starting just jabbering about anything that came to my head, dancing to Motab, and playing basketball in our tiny house with 6 and a half foot ceilings and no hoop. Somehow, a midst all that, my comp slept. 

Point is, we lost two entire days of work, so that was kind of a bummer. On the plus side, I learned how to properly give someone a shot in the butt. I learned how not to hit the some-crazy-latin-name nerve that will cause you legs to go to sleep for a month and I learned about the four quadrants that every cheek has and I learn how to stab myself in the finger with the needle while practicing on a lime. It's was a good experience. I guess there's a silver lining in everything.
Just so you know, we did put a baptismal date with (insert name here). She's super pilas. We gave her a Book of Mormon with the simple assignment to read just 2 Nephi 31 and she tried to read from 1 Nephi 1 to 2 Nephi 31 in ONE DAY! And she almost succeeded! She soooo wants to get baptized. We have to tell her no, you cannot get baptized until you receive a firm answer from God. All the members already love her. She's going to be a great convert. Honestly, thinking it about it, the Lord doesn't want me to do anything. He doesn't want me to find new investigators because that's the member's job. He doesn't want me to convince investigators because that's the Spirit's job. He doesn't want me to bring the investigators to Church because that's the investigator's job. I do nothing! I just cite things from Preach My Gospel and receive all the credit! The world is going mad!

Anyways, I want to tell you the coolest experience I had this week. So, we currently have a commission from our President to go and search out the people who were baptized in the Church but then stopped coming to Church to help those people become active again. We have to visit 8-10 people like that a week and in order to know who those people are, we ask the Bishop for a list. This last week, the first name on the list was Armando. We decided to visit him on our first work day of the week (Tuesday). 

We called him on Tuesday to see if we could come because he lives rather far away (like fifteen minutes in taxi) and we didn't want to travel all that way only to find that nobody was home. Hence, the foresight to call before. See, I do learn things in the mission. Anyways, he didn't answer, so we ditched the plan of visiting him and decided to do other things. But, later that same day, I felt an impression that I needed to visit him. I kept thinking about it and for some reason, it just became more and more important to me, until it got to the point where I had to call him again. This time, he answered. He said he wasn't home and that his wife said she was gonna go on some errands. He told that we could pass by though, if we wanted to. He would tell his wife just to stay home for a bit.

So off we went, to go visit his wife and not really knowing why, but feeling that it was pretty important. We got there and there she was. She answered the door normally enough and presented us to a friend who was there visiting her. We exchanged the customary pleasantries like "Hi, how are you?" and as soon as we asked her "how are you?" she burst into tears, sobbing. Apparently, somebody had just jacked their pick up truck and it had some important documents in it that she needed to pay a debt and now she didn't know what to do and she had prayed to God for help and lo and behold, we want to come visit her out of the blue. She asked for a blessing from the priesthood, for comfort and guidance. I had the privilege of giving it to her. We then spent the next hour talking about the purpose of trials in this life and sharing scriptures of comfort. She was positively beaming by the end of our visit and constantly reaffirming to us of the reality of God and the truth that He always answers prayers of faith (things, of course, that we, the missionaries, already knew, but reaffirm she did anyway). It was a wonderful experience. I've had many miracles in my life, but it's different to be on the other end of a miracle. I like it when God uses me to answer prayers. Nothing like it in the world. And then my companion got sick.

Life is just good in the mission right now. I have no complaints about anything (actually, I am kind of hungry right now....but wait, an investigator gave me a mango!). I don't really want to leave ever. It took me a lot longer than Taggart to reach that point, I think, but I officially able to say sincerely that I don't want the mission to end. I like it too much. So I'll see you in a year, I guess, if I have to.

Tell Jordan I say hi and then make fun of him a bit for me. Just for old time's sake. I'm sorry it is cold and dangerous. I sweat all the time out here. The only difference between winter and summer is that it is dryer in the winter. I hate having dry hands. But I like being warm. I think I will die my first winter when I get back because now I think that 60 degrees is "cold." What has Oaxaca done to me? Have a great week and I'll talk to you later!
Elder Johnson