Monday, November 29, 2010

29 November 2010

Dear Family,

Ok, so the Christmas call has come so so fast. I didn't realize Thanksgiving had passed until the 26th! So I didn't do anything, but I still want to make a list of everything I have here. Should be pretty short.

Right. The call. The missionaries are telling me that the limit is 1 hour, that it costs only 10 centimos per minute, and yes I buy a card. Don't know as of now when we will call. But yes I am looking forward to it and no I can't skype. The time seems to be what time we wish. So I think you all can dictate the time. Would it be cool to make it wired like 5 in the morning for you all? haha no.

Right this weeeeeeek. It is good to write in English. I don't use English at all anymore. With the gringos in my district I try to speak spanish, journal. Basically I only use English to teach a few words to those who want to learn a little.

This week I started to have a weird sensation. I don't know why but I started to be exposed to more Quetchua. When i hear it, I feel like I used to when listening to Spanish, confused and what not, and weirdly when the conversation reverts back to Spanish it feels like reverting to English used to feel in high school classes or in the MTC.

One new investigator from this week I don't understand at ALL. Elder Orihuela says that her Spanish is funny, cuz it is a heavy mix of Quetchua and Spanish. Imagine Spanglish, and that is her Spanish... but EspaƱechua. Anyway the picture of just Elder Orihuela is in her.. front yard slash sheep pen.

I realized the other day how important in my life having the goal of going on a mission has been, specifically muh teens. It was kind of like bumpers around the path spoken on in Lehi´s vision. Speaking of which, The vision, actually the one of Lehi and later of Nephi, [Nephi] has been the subject of my studies lately. I have learned a ton from them. Its is interesting to imagine it and try to place myself, the investigatores. Imagine what is needed. I think it would be useful for everyone to find themselves and where they are, what group of people they are in the vision. Whether they are diligently struggling on the path holding tight, holding loosly, have eaten and are looking at the spacious building or maybe are starting to walk away or are just coasting not paying attention to whether are eating or wandering.

For those who want to read more and understand what im talking about take a little time and (do it!) read 1 Nephi 8 to 15ish I think it is to get the full effect. To read on the Internet, Google 1 Nephi 8, and from I think the first link you will be able to.

This might make part of my return talk.. haha

 Yeah, so this week we shall continue to strive to work hard, do good work.

Love Elder Johnson

Saturday, November 27, 2010

22 November 2010

Dear family and friends,
Yeah, hopefully it [the christmas packages] will get through or something... I have had to dip into my emergency money for two reasons already. And simple [speaking of Christmas gifts] is completely fine and expected. I am way too far [away] to be normal [with Christmas gifts].
Today was transfer day, but neither Elder Orihuela or I are going anywhere this transfer, so we will pass Christmas in a familiar pension [apartment].
In church ages ago, Dad made stickers for us, the 12 to 18 year old group of hombres known as Young Mens. We had talked about how many signs say walk to the nearest exit, and how that for spiritual danger like sin we should always run and not walk from the danger.
Well I was reviewing a short church movie we watched and was sharing a message related to it. While talking I remembered this lesson from Young Mens and shared it with them too. The addition of this memory completed very nicely my message and seemed to impact the family deeply. They have been inactive since before I arrived, but last Sunday they went to church!!!!
Alma 26:22, one of the scriptures we have memorized as directed by the president says that if we repent, exercise faith, produce good work, and pray continually without ceasing, we will be able to find people to teach. I have been striving to do all three, but am not yet perfect. Also, I feel like as a companionship, we could do a lot more to complete the produce buenas obras [good works] part. Really we have done very little productive work. Doctrine and Covenants teaches missionaries that we are called to ... I don't know how to translate it exactly into English... but to find and teach the people who are prepared already to accept the gospel. As we only have 2 years of time, we should not spend time with people who are not ready. In this we need to improve.
I am not sure how i can try to change or improve our works, our diligence, and our obedience. As a greenie of 3 and a half months almost, I feel like I don't know anything compared to Elder Orihuela of 14 months. Yet at the same time I feel like there are definitely things we can do to improve... I guess I am confused why we aren’t doing them and feel like I shouldn't be the one to start it, or that he won’t want the initiative to come from me, junior companion still in my training period.
We as a district moved about 700 kilograms of rocks and sand up a hill comparable in steepness to Big Schloss. Less high, but I estimate we gave the rocks 200,000 joules very inefficiently.
As far as Spanish goes, I have been learning so much. I have started learning a tinsy bit of Quechua. It is weird to learn a language from a language which isn't your birth language. I told an investigator this and she was surprised. She thought I learned Spanish first, and then English! This because of my striving to be obedient.
Love Elder Johnson  

Monday, November 15, 2010

15 November 2010

Dear family and friends,

Is the picture problem fixed or worked around? I sent a letter home on Thursday the 11th. It has my memory card within. When y'all receive it, can you move the pictures somewhere safe and separate from those I email home (to avoid duplication and apparently corruption it sounds like)? They are very important please take care to take care of them in the next 21 months!

SO what happened this week? Lots.

I had the question: out of every 1 eV that the beam in the LHC gets increased, how many eV´s does the LHC use? So how efficient is it? My guess is around 10,000 eV per 1 eV in the beam.

People always like to practice what little English they know with me. We were at the door of one family, and their children girls said, Hello, good night, Justin Beiber. I almost threw myself down the steep hill at this marked failure of society.

Cassie! I met your friend Elder .. uh Boultin? I didn't get exactly the spelling but it is Trevor. We talked for about 3 minutes before our multizonal meeting on Friday. He seems really cool! I think I shall see him today as well. I have no idea how he remembered to look for me on Friday, hasn't it been 6 months since you warned him of my coming?

Speaking of which, our multizonal meeting (with all the missionaries who are in the city of Arequipa --around 100, once every 6 weeks) was awesome! Our president talked for about 2 hours and called us to STEEP repentance and correcting of our ways. I hope I can implement everything he talked about. I really like our leaders.

Also at the multizona, I got to meet up with a bunch of the missionaries I was with in the CCM and MTC. They are doing well, some better than others in terms of Spanish. One is having a very hard time, and didn't understand me when I asked him how he felt in Spanish :(

Oh yea at the multizona also, we met some of the missionaries with 23 months. Elder Orihuela commented that some of them have ¨perfect Spanish, with slang... everything¨ they really sounded exactly like native speakers. This is my long-term goal for my Spanish.

To look up where I am, the tourist attraction in our area is La mansion del Fundador. We cross the orange bridge by it most days.

I was a little wondering which lesson story I would send home until last night. We worked hard yesterday visiting lots of people, meeting lots of new people. The last place we went was the home of a member. I had been praying a lot to find a new investigator who was ready to start progressing. We went to the home to meet one of our investigators who spends a lot of time there. She is kind of a daughter-in- law of Hermana Emedita. We got there and sat down with Yenny, the investigator, and through the door walked two other people. They both sat down with us and be taught all three with Hermana Emedita! Turns out one is a member who is ¨less active¨and the other had never heard of the church.

As we taught and talked about the Restoration of the church that Jesus Christ established while he was in the earth, which had the four key parts: Prophet, Apostles, Priesthood authority of God, and Revelations for the people received through the prophet. They all three were full of curiosity of where in the world is this church. We talked about how after the death of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom and deaths of his apostles, there no longer were Apostles or Prophets, and that with them left revelations and the authority of the priesthood. So the church that Jesus Christ established was no longer on the earth.

In the following years, tons of people tried to reform the church in the same form it had with Jesus Christ and the Apostles, but without the true priesthood (though many claimed to have it) and without a prophet or apostles, and revelations received through them, they were unable to find the true church.

As we explained that God called a prophet to restore the true church of Jesus Christ, we could tell that all three felt the Holy Spirit testifying of the truth, and we helped them recognize that. It was very powerful to be in the room, despite the fact that family members were shuffling in the background. It was like their distraction was muffled.

Love Elder Johnson 

Monday, November 8, 2010

8 November 2010

Q- How are you? 
A- Really good even though it is really hard!

Q- How about a picture of your apartment/house? 
A- O.k. Coming next week.

Q- A typical meal?

A- Sadly there are no tacos here.

Soup and a fruit followed by lots of rice and usually some part of chicken. The other day we had chicken heart, which adds to the normal parts: throat, feet... Oh and I had clam for the first time in the dinner soup on Friday I think. I am learning to tolerate seafood, as fish is not uncommon. Luckily I started being more open before my mission. There are areas where you only eat fish... hopefully I can not go there haha.

Oh and there is this thing called matagringo, which is from the verb matar (to kill) and the noun gringo. They are kind of like olives... and a really sour and basically terrible. At least for us gringos. The Latinos like them. Hence the name.

Q- Who makes your food?  (a picture!) 
A- Oh, coming next week. Sorry only 2 pictures of my surroundings today. One is the son of Clelia, who was baptized my first Saturday. The other is the steeple of one of our two chapels. The chapels are tile floored, hard walls. This makes for a lot of noise reflection, but luckily both have speaker systems to conquer the children´s noises. This chapel is comparatively pretty, the other is a little more reserved.

O.k., some anecdotes.

I got a haircut Wednesday for 3 sol, a little more than a dollar.

I am searching for the best way to mark my scriptures, if there are any suggestions I'd love to hear them!

This week we talked to an investigator who had been taking discussions from missionaries a while ago. She like many people has a child but isn't married. Lots of people here are convivientes, which means living together more or less, without being married. They feel like it is mas o menos the same but as they are unmarried, they are violating the commandment given to us to be chaste, having no sexual relations other than to our legal spouse. She wants to get married. We talked about how the commandments are in reality a blessing. The scriptures say that God does nothing save it is to help his children gain eternal life. Commandments are part of this. They are how we know what we need to do anyway. We receive blessings when we follow the commandments in addition to the eternal reward for being righteous, and avoiding the sadness and despair that can take us when we live contrary to the commandments.

I think she really understood this, and she has a goal to be baptized on the 20th of November.

On Friday, I believe, we had our interview with the mission president.

He interviews us every 3 months I think. His first question was plainly, are you worthy. It is very gratifying to be able to answer this question in the affirmative without any reserve. We talked about how I am doing, how Elder Orihuela and me are doing, what we need to do. In the end, he gave me a spectrum 1 to 10 where 1 is a very bad person and 10 is Christ. I am thinking it must be a logarithmic scale or something. Anyway I am around a 4. He responded, ok, you have a year to be a 10. This is quite a high goal, but I believe I can do it. Today I have a personal goal to work towards realizing this, and tomorrow, and the next I will too. Actually I want to keep having these daily goals basically for the rest of my life, and hopefully I can reach a 10.

We don’t have any flea problems, in answer to your question.

Eric! Sounds like marching band and soccer are being a blast!! Very cool! Your letter made me laugh haha. I was amazed by the blog stats... if each hit was only a second long; it was viewed for a solid hour in October! I shall try to write valuable things. I really do miss trees.. greenery... autumn. 

Sounds like the bike ride to Mount Vernon and the backpacking has been great! I really liked that trail, and that bike ride too!

All right I gotta go. Later we shall play basketball.


Elder Johnson

Monday, November 1, 2010

1 November 2010

Dear Home:

You asked "Can you have music on your mission? What kinds?"

We can have music but only Monday and only of the church. So basically I am fine. I do miss some good motab [Mormon Tabernacle Choir] and our classics we would listen to at night in the CCM.

Speaking of ipods, they are going to be awesome when I return.

Right, business. I got letters from Oksana, Kimmie, and Cassie on the 28th of October. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

The week before, I got a really old letter that was addressed to the Provo, MTC from home, and a letter from Gramps J on the 19th. Thank you for your answers to my questions and the stories from Texas and home! They were great!

I think letters are transported by a llama express because they are soooooo slooowww and it kinda kills me a little. It is all right though haha. Bueno. I wrote a big letter btw which I'll send off.

What was so great about this week. A lot. We fasted yesterday for Melisa, an investigator whose parents aren't too keen on letting her get baptized. She fasted too which was cool. It is always cool to fast, placing spiritual things above physical, and learning a lot.

I have been trying to be really, really obedient, and I have been richly blessed as a reward. My Spanish is growing so fast, comprehension is way good. I still have a lot to learn though. It is kinda like jumping off a cliff into cold water. Or apparently cold. You jump into the air, not really knowing what to expect, but doing so on faith, and instead of plunging into the water, you realize you are standing on higher ground than you were before.

There are bastante [many] examples.

Some cultural I think.

Halloween was yesterday, and here it is a little different. It is associated a little as the day of the devil, so church members are a little careful. Kids still go around in costumes asking for dulces [candy]. But lots of people go to cemeteries to celebrate the lives of their relatives and friends, which I'm pretty sure no one does in the States.

Everyone here cooks on propane stoves. They look normal [compared] to ours but burn propane from tanks. There is a whole infrastructure to support it too.

Our shower and all those I have seen have electric heaters at the spigot. There is no heated water here as far as I can tell. I am making a semi-educated guess that is is around 400 watts, but I really have no idea what the change in temperature or the rate of water is.

Every one remembers Johnson shampoo when they hear my name. Some of the ward's children call me Johnson lotion, Johnson shampoo, Johnson baby. My second apellido [last name].

AH and ONE investigator story. Hermana Luisa runs a tienda. She is very knowledgeable of the Bible, and loves to talk to us about doctrine, and learn of the gospel of Christ. She is very enthusiastic and in church last Sunday she could not stop smiling. All she needs is to pray for her self... something that isn't super easy to bring about.