Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This post consists of questions we asked Mark, and his replies.

Describe your apartment

It is really small. We have a bunk bed, two desks, a dresser, and two doors. Oh and on the dresser is one of those gigantic water bottle things so we can drink because the faucet is no good.. about 100 square feet before you put all that in there. a lot less with it in.

Tell us more about your companion

My companion..idk if i said already.. but is the only member in his family. Has been a member since he was 15, and took 3 months to get baptized after he met the missionaries. Here we have a goal of a 3 week process from meeting them to them knowing that this church is the true church, and being baptized.

How do you get around?

We walk or bus everywhere. Usually hit the bus at least 2 sometimes 4 times a day. The busses are great fun. To get here we took one that was unusually tall. The roof was at my normal shoulder height. One other person had to bend his head a little.

What are the streets like?

The streets depend on where. We often go teach in the Mansion area, which is the most poor area. Their streets are tierra, and exceedingly dry. There hasn't been rain here in at least 6 months, so dust gets all up on the shoes and some on bottoms of pants when you are being careful. In the nicer areas, the streets are paved, something different than asphalt. bigger pebbles are used... but it isn't concrete. Here too the streets are generally dusty. Also there doesn't seem to be much public concern for the cleanliness of the roads. Everyone drops and throws their trash out the cars, busses, bikes. In consequence, there is a ton of trash.

How are you received?

My all time least favorite phrase is: soy catolico. We hear it EVERYWHERE. Usually people are nice and will at least listen to us a little. Maybe 1 in 7 doors will agree to let us back to teach another day, which isn't bad counting the doors which are unoccupied. It is just that the people often are quite close minded towards us and our message of Christ, and additional teachings which would bring them all many blessings.

How are you feeling about Spanish?

My spanish is coming. I and rapidly understanding more and more even though they talk about a billion miles per hour. The problem is when they use words I don't know, which happens a lot. Especially when the words is a key word that decides the meaning of the sentence. I tell most by picking out most of what they say, and then looking at their body language and facial expressions to get the rest. Still tho, last night we were talking to a woman and her sister... and they started to cry. I only understood something about drinking alcohol... probably her husband, and that the sister was feeling very unhappy. My companion did a good job of reassuring her. I tried to do what i could.

Those goals--were they for your companionship?

the numbers like 540 contacts a week? yes. companionship per week

Name the elders/sisters in your district

Oh I’ve only seen them a few times. but we have an Elder here from American Fork, he has 22 months here, and he knows Jared! He played soccer on a team that occasionally borrowed jared apparently, and his brother played on Jared's team.

What are you doing about food?

Food. The food is quite good. I love the rice flavors and stuff. Its \all good.. but i have had to eat fish twice here now. Luckily i am beginning to be able to.

What do the people in your area do for work?

i have no idea...ill try to find this one out.


A little warm in the mid day, cold at night. It is a desert after all. So short sleeves in the day and coat in the night after dinner.

What is the ward like?

We go to two. One is very good, with lots of people and strong membership. THe other is very very small. I don't know why it is so small, but one of our goals is to work with the bishop on that this week.

What is the name of your area?

Hunter zone, area is Augusto Freire

Any major insights?

Yes.. So many. I wish i had more time to write on them. I have learned more than i could write in 30 minutes. One is that obedience is the most important thing when trying to improve

Any missionary experiences you can share?


What a great week! alright, let me try to throw out the highlights. We took some investigators to the young mens young women activity, and i had no idea what was going on...basically like always. Anyway they were all just chilling on the basketball slash soccer court and some music came on. All of a sudden the 25 or so youth were doing this sweet organized dance for the next 7 minutes. Way cool.

I just wanna say that teaching people for real is so awesome. The other day we were in a home, actually the nicest ive been in so far. Anyway we were reading 2 Ne 28 with them, discussing the prophecies. They got way into it and how exciting it was that many were true.

Another day we were teaching at a one room home. The candlelight glinting off the tin roof and giving the cinderblocks warmth. it was very very cool.

ahh time to go

love Elder Johnson

Monday, October 18, 2010

18 October 2010

(This appears to be part of a letter. . .)

Before I left the CCM, Elder Stewart and I started teaching one of the ladies who serves us lunch. We intended to be practicing... and our teacher said that all the staff were expecting to be contacted, but she must not have known. Anyway we taught her a little, and she said she wanted to learn more. So we got her information and sent it to some missionaries who are in the area of her home. Very cool experience.

Also I DID get that package. After I wrote y'all, I went to the secretary and asked if there were any packages for me and she gave me it. SOOO MMUUHCCHH THANKS. I am currently eating the last bits of it, the Sour Patch Kids. They are the best.

Arriving here was kind of crazy. When we landed our 737 (I think), we taxied right up to the small airport building. We were the only airplane there! They pulled up movable stairs and we walked 50 feet to the door. 50 more feet and we were through the airport and getting on busses to take us to the mission president's home. They are so, so cool. We really got a home run on the mission president and his wife. The AP was telling us some stuff in English, was having difficulty with English. I can't wait till I get like that!

Our mission goals for each week are 3 baptisms and confirmations, 90 people with baptismal dates, 45 attending sacrament meeting each week, 30 lessons with members, 540 contacts, 20 references, and 120 new investigators each week. Yea as of this week we have not hit that level yet, but hopefully next.

So I‚ am in Peru! For real, not just in the CCM. It is waaayyy different. First off, no one speaks more than a couple words in English, except the other missionaries, who I see twice a week, but we speak Spanish on those occasions so our companions understand what is happening.

My companion is Elder Orihuela. He has been in Arequipa for almost a year. His Spanish is flawless. I guess he is a native speaker though. He is from Peru, and has been in the Augusto Freire area for the past 6 months.. I think.

Last Saturday, we had a baptism!! Clelia. She has a sister in the church. I really didn't do anything to help her into the church other than talk briefly at her baptism, about the reason we need baptism. At the baptism, we ate cake! It was really good.

I love it here... but it is very difficult. It will be much easier in 2 months or so. Not being able to talk to Spanish really, on top of the fact that my companion is the quiet type. I think he also really misses his family right now. He seems to be in a tough spot.

I saw the first other North American person after 5 days here.

This is really something else.

Love Elder Mark Johnson

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October 6, 2010

Dear Home,

I haven´t seen her [Clarice C.]! I was wondering about that... hmm. Maybe it is in some room here waiting to reach me.

Paul: I wrote this down for you on October 1: Wake up, September ended. Also, the computer I am typing on has an external 216 watt power source. So.. watch out Crysis.

We leave Tuesday for the mission field!!! We are all so excited slash tensions are rising. I think a lot of people are nervous about having the real deal: a companion all day with no one else to talk to except investigators, the companion probably going to be native, and the investigators for sure, and a whole new place, whole new schedule. In my district, we cover a spectrum of speaking ability from quite good, to still iffy. I understand near 80 percent of what the latinos are saying during enseñanzas, which is teaching practice. Granted they are talking about church stuff, and speaking clearly. The people I have met outside the CCM tend to speak quietly, and with non-chuch vocabulary that I am not as used to.

BUT, tho I am a little nervous, I am super archey iper mega extrodanario excited for getting there!

How´d the week go? It was hard, stressful, awesome, spiritual, and megasweet. We had Conference! that was definitely the highlight of the week. I have never enjoyed conference so so much! It was cool to be the missionaries speakers were talking about, especially when President Monson did the state of the church thing at the beginning. I took about 12 pages of notes, and am working on a synopsis of conference with the main thing for me in each talk, and when that main thing is something I need to implement in my life, I am highlighting it. I think I might have to summarize the synopsis tho... there were a lot of talks, which we all enjoyed so much. The two days were all smiles around the CCM.

We were the only people in all of Peru to watch conference live at church. Peru had elections, and there is a law that no one can go to church or any other organized meeting. It is apparently to keep the people under control, but means Peruvians watch conference a week later in a re-broadcast. Luckily, the CCM is somehow not technically an organization that falls under that law through some awesome loophole so we got to watch it live!

Did anyone else see the Sherinians (please correct that spelling haha) on the between conference program after Saturday morning??? The whole world saw them! Also very cool, during Priesthood session, my Chemical Engineering 170 study buddy, Andrew Naylor, got a portrait shot for almost 1.5 seconds! He was in the MTC Choir and I about had a heart attack. I didnt see Elder Ian Christensen unfortunately... did anyone else?

I was wondering if lots of people are having trouble converting to Monson with the huge follow the prophet theme. Especially noticed with the repeated 14 points. My favorite points were the prophet does not need qualifications to talk on a subject, and the prophets words don´t need to follow the knowledge of the time, citing especially Joseph Smith with the Word of Wisdom and translation.

I also really liked Eyring´s talks, and his recounting of how he realized what he was to talk about. In the MTC we watched a talk by Elder Bednar who mentioned how the talks at conference are not collaborated, yet always show trends. It was very cool to see that happen, as speakers would often set up the next speaker, and introduce his topic, and the overall themes of following the prophet, being close to the spirit, honesty and agency, and obedience. Bednar in that talk spoke to those who wonder: how do you know when it is the spirit. His response, was: "Don't worry about it, be a good boy." He cited three examples in his own life where he didn't even know it was a prompting of the spirit.. yes that's right an apostle didnt know... but definitely without question were.

The first, he just gave a large amount of money to a traveling general authority while on his mission in Germany. Thought it was a good idea at the time just to help him out, but didn't know it was a prompting. The Authority later that day got stopped by an east german officer to check his and his wife's identification. His checked out, but his wife's didn't. The authority didn't even realize the severity of the situation, and that they almost arrested and took his wife from him, They had no money but what Elder Bednar had given them. When they handed it to him, he left them alone.

Another was when he was a stake president. His son and the son of one of the Elder's Quorum Presidents´were playing a championship game during some Saturday Stake Conference thing. He struggled with his conscious, thinking that he was just rationalizing leaving, but did leave with that other father. They talked for 2 hours, had a long interview, watched the game, had fun. Six months later the President´s son died in an accident when chopping wood. That game was the only one the dad was able to watch his son play.

The last was when Elder Bednar was an apostle. He just felt like he should change the topic of a conference talk one morning only a few days before conference. He ended up changing it, and to his suprise, found that his new topic meshed perfectly with the speaker before, and the speaker after him.

I am going to continue studying the talks.

Question: Sister Cook in the Sunday morning session mentioned a Carmen Cutler. Are we related through the Cutlerites? That would be sweet!

Question: I was swirling my hot chocolate, and a bubble formed. The bubble moved to the center of the vortex and stayed there. It would happen every time I swirled it. I think this happened because of the inertia of the spinning liquid and the displacement in the surface it takes to float the bubble. So cuz it is bouyant, it got moved out of the way towards the middle kind of like if it was below the surface. Is that right? So that would be why ships would be sucked into a oceanic whirlpool too, right?

Today after going to the temple, we went to Metro and Tottus. I finally gave in and treated myself to a 3.2 sol slice of chocolate cake. I haven't bought anything else tho! except pens I guess. Anyway it was very very very good. Probably helped by the fact that I missed breakfast. Metro had biodegradable plastic bags! Do any stores back home do that or are they just way ahead of the curve here? On the way back we hopped on the bus, but unlike the normal somewhat high g ride, this guy drove more similar to Paul. He was passing busses, slamming the breaks, stealing passengers who were about to board other busses. Not saying Paul does that.

¡Estoy animado para el campo! "Pues he aqui, el campo blaco esta ya para la siega. Y he aqui, quien mete su hoz, con su fuerza, atesora para si, de modo que no parece, sino que trae salvación a su alma." Es muy interesante para veo los cambios en mí vida. En los ultimo dos semanas, cambié mucho mucho, y tambien cambié los semanas antes.. pero en un camino bueno. He aprendido mucho sobre español y el evangelio. Estoy en jacob 6 en mi leyendo en el libro de mormon. Cada dia leo en voz alto para mas o menos trenta menutos. Entonces leo muy rapido en español, y aveces tengo un accento bueno. En dos mes, seré muy bueno en español, y para eso, estoy animable. Ayer, Elder Stewart y yo damos un libro de mormon a un mujer de la comedria. Ella ha leido! En cena hoy, preguntaremos que fue. Bueno, necisito me preparo para cena y nuestro charla fogonera. Me encanto Peru y mi llamamiento misional! Tengo mucho gracias porque estoy en el servicio de dio. Tengo deseos de servir a Dios, y soy llamado a la obra!

[I'm excited for the mission field. "For behold, the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul." It is very interesting to see the changes in my life. In the last two weeks, I've changed a lot and I have also changed in the weeks before that. But, in a good way. I have learned much about Spanish and the gospel. I am in Jacob 6 in my reading of the Book of Mormon. Every day I read out loud for more or less thirty minutes. Then, I read really quickly in Spanish and sometimes I have a good accent. In two months, I will be very good at spanish and for this, I am very excited. Yesterday, Elder Stewart and I gave a Book of Mormon to a lady in the cafeteria. She read it. At dinner today, we asked her how it went. I love Peru and my missionary calling! I am very grateful that I am in the service of God. I have desires to serve God and I am called to the work!]

Love Elder Johnson