March 24, 2013

Busy as Mall of America on Black Friday

I also hope you get better mom. I don't like it when you are sick. You keep working even though you shouldn't. But, that's the life of a mom, right? My comp's been half sick for like two weeks now. We've gone to the doctor twice and put ourselves on a diet in order to help him, but we are still in the process of getting better. Hopefully, he gets better this week so that we can work on achieving our norms of excellence.

That's a big thing for us right now, norms of excellence. President established this system a long time ago where every three months, we, the missionaries, established "norms" that we strive to achieve for three key indicators (baptismal dates, investigators in sacrament meeting, and lessons with a member). The problem is, he wasn't quite clear in exactly what he wanted to achieve with these normas, so the missionaries, of course, immediately confused the concept of a norma with the concepts of a goal. A norma, to be clear, is something that we achieve on a weekly basis. It is the MINIMUM. A goal, is something you put to raise your sight and your production. It is the MAXIMUM of what you believe you can achieve. Finally, this past week, they clarified everything. Now we have to achieve our norms on a weekly basis. It's a tough, but valuable change. The norms are going to start to mean something for us now.

We didn't have the baptism we wanted this week, but that was just because the dad of ================== wants to go and he can't until the 23rd. The dad, by the way, is the non-member who was sort of blocking the path for the last three years. We graciously changed the date for him, even though that means that our 23rd is going ot be as busy as the Mall of America on Black Friday. On the 23rd, we also happen to have a conference with a seventy (Elder Martinez) in Oaxaca. Three hourse away from Huajuapan. That means on the 23rd, we will be listening to a conference until like 2, then we'll have to jump straight on a bus to go to Huajuapan so that we can be there by 7, which is when the baptism is supposed to start, and maybe sometime in there we'll have time to eat. I hope.

Well, I love you all. You'll do great in your new calling mom. I'll see you in two years!
Elder Johnson

March 17, 2013

I'm working myself to death!

I think I'm slowly (e.g. quickly) killing my companion. We work a lot. We work hard. We are out in the streets during the hottest part of the day looking for new investigators, finishing our planning session at 10:20 at night, and leaving the house at 9 in the morning because that's the only time when a lot of our investigators can see us. It's really, really tiring, but really, really gratifying. It's nice to see when God starts blessing your efforts. Honestly, one day we did everything to find new investigators: we contacted everybody we talked to or who talked to us, we asked for references from a bunch of people, we tried to contact a bunch of references that we had received, everything and we still didn't find a new investigators. Then, at 8:30 at night, we stopped by to chat with a family of members. Only one of the daughters was home.  This daughter,  just so you know, is sixteen. Without even asking her, she suddenly blurted out, "Oh, hey, I've got a reference for you." The Lord just blesses our efforts sometimes. I love Him.

============== is still on track to get baptized this Saturday. She's very excited about it. She's more Mormon than I am, I think. That's a good sign. She honestly doesn't like not being Mormon. She likes keeping the commandments, going to Church, and doing good things. I'm proud of her. She'll be a good member of the Church as long as she doesn't marry a non-member like half the female member of Huajuapan have done. That's just not a good practice, by the way.

We went and used my comp's talents today in the morning. He's an artist (I'm pretty sure some of his work is on the mission facebook page by now) and so we went and painted somebody's house. It was fun. I just got to paint the base (green) and he painted pictures and wrote letters. It was actually relaxing (what have I become?!) but it killed our morning. Then, when we were writing our emails, the internet went out and so that's why this is coming so late in the day. Just so you know.

We had a really cool stake conference on Sunday. We had to travel all the way to Oaxaca, three hours each way, but it was worth the trip. First of all, I got to see some of my converts from La Hacienda. They are still doing well and are still more active than most of that ward. It's so gratifying to see people actually understand, feel, and apply the gospel. I love it. Then, I got to listen to two apostles speak to the people of Mexico. Elder Bednar gave a really powerful talk about repentance. The general theme was that members of the Church are not really doing it well. They are denying themselves the blessings of repentance by making it a memorized, wrote sort of tradition as opposed to a heartfelt, real, healing process. Even a full confession can be incomplete if it is not accompanied by heartfelt regret and a dependence on the Savior's power. His two main points were: 1. Repentance requires a Savior and 2. Repentance demands a humble heart (or something like that, I didn't take notes). It was very, very good and it reminded me that I need to repent everyday. 

Then, Elder Richard G. Scott spoke and it was a very touching message. Quite a few people started crying during it. He spoke about the sanctity of women. He spoke about how young women are denying themselves the divine gifts of their femininity  He spoke about how we need to remind women how important they are, how precious they are, how perfect they are. He said that the woman is God's most divine creation and noted that only after creating the woman, God pronounced the Creation both finished and Good. He spoke about the family, about how woman should seek to have a family and that no man is complete without the woman. It was an incredibly inspired message for the masculine inclined culture of Mexico. It was actually just a wonderful talk in total. I hope he gives it in the General Conference.  Tell Tyrel that I love him. I'll see him in five months. For the rest of you, see you in two years!

Elder Johnson

March 10, 2013


Dear Mom,

The mission wave hasn't quite hit us yet. They are not dividing or splitting or changing the Oaxaca mission, as they are with practically every other mission in Mexico. We only received six new missionaries last transfer. Things are calm and normal so far. The only thing that might be a little different is that of those six new missionaries, five were girls. But I expect that to change soon. They've told me that within a year, Oaxaca could have as much as 300 missionaries. Right now, we are at about 190 and for my entire mission until this point, 200 was the max. So we should start getting a ton of new missionaries right about the time that I start being an old missionary (ugh). Where I've really seen the mission wave is in the emails I receive from my friends. Both Brianna Cragun and Stacie Christiensen emailed me this week to tell me that they got their respective mission calls (Brianna to Russia and Stacie to Brasil). I'm a little sad because I think I'm gonna miss most of the fun times, when there are a ton of missionaries and the work is just exploding. OH well, I'll just content myself with preparing the soil :)

And boy, do I have a lot of work to do. Right now, we have to change everything about the mission work in Oaxaca so that the wards and branches and stakes are ready for all the new missionaries. We have to start having functioning meetings with the Bishop, have to start teaching the members how to do their part of the mission work, have to start activating all inactive priesthood, etc. We have a lot of work to do. Essentially, we have to change the Oaxaquen culture. It's quite a job and I need to get better at it.

We did a good job this week though. I got to do divisions with a former a assistant and he taught me a lot about how to work with the members. We're trying really, really hard right now to achieve our norms of excellence and we should be doing it this week, I think. WE won't be having a baptism though. =========== had to change her baptismal date to the next week so that she could get confirmed on that Sunday instead of waiting a week. I had forgotten about stake conference when I put that date. Ooops. The zone leaders came all the way up here to do the interview (3 hour drive) too. I feel pretty bad about that waste of time. Totally my bad. But, on the bright side, ============= finally told her dad about her baptism and while he was initially upset about it, he softened up when she invited him and now he says that he's going to go. I'm not sure, but I feel a family miracle coming on here. I'm soooo happy about it!

I got my haircut today and the haircut lady put gel in my hair. I hate gel. Called me old fashioned, but I hate it. It's not my style at all. 

Well, we've got some appointments to go to right now. I'm hoping to find a new investigator today and put a baptismal date! Let's hope it's possible! 

Love you all! See you in 2 years!
Elder Johnson

March 3, 2013

I'm craving a swimming pool!

It's really hot and really dry and all I want to do is jump in a pool or a lake or run through a sprinkler or have a water balloon fight and all I want to eat are fruits, salads and sandwiches. But, I'm a missionary, so instead I'm in a white long-sleeved shirt and a tie, walking in dusty streets to visit ice cream salesmen (hey, maybe he'll give me one!) and eating soups, stews, and chiles. I may not completely understand my life right now, but dang it, I'm happy!

Okay, on to mission stuff.  We talked to ============ this week. She's really nervous about her baptism (scheduled forMarch 9th) but determined to go through with it. It really impressed me when her grandma, the relief society president, asked her, "And if you dad cuts you off and runs you out of the house?" =============== replied, "Well then he cuts me off and runs me out of the house." That takes some guts, especially when you are a poor college student still dependent on your parents. We read a story in the Bible of Peter and John, who were told soon after Christ's resurrection that they couldn't preach in Christ's name. THe people who told them were the same people who had killed Christ. THey still had the power to kill Peter and John. And they said, "You cannot do what the Lord has commanded you to do. We will not let you." Peter, as always, replied in admirable fashion, "Judge between thyselves whether it is right to obey you over God. For we cannot forget the things that we have seen and heard." That's what ================= is doing right now. Her dad has said, "You cannot obey the commandment of God to get baptized in the true Church," and ================ has said, "Well, I think it's more important to obey God than to obey you, dad because I know this is the true Church. THe Spirit of revelation has testified this to me." Like I said before, it takes some guts to be like Peter. I'm super happy for ======================.

Well, I'm starting divisions with my zone leaders today. I should learn a lot. Elder Trejo is a very good Elder. Sometimes it's hard to keep with him, but it will be a good challenge. We all need challenges in order to grow. Something dad has taught me, actually. As for my package, I just need socks. All of my socks have holes in them. That's my only pressing need. I'd write more, but I have to write a lot of people today. I hope you understand. I love you and I'll see you in 2 years!
Elder Johnson