Monday, December 27, 2010

December 27, 2010 Letter and Pictures

Dear familia,

Wow! It was way awesome to be able to call home. Sorry I spent much of the time amazed that I was actually talking to you and 35 minutes and 7 seconds was ridiculously short, but obedient. (grumble). Oh, I wanted to correct a verbal mistake I made on the phone. I was translating the sentence to English and did a bad job. In the story I dont remember, we returned to the apartment, not "home".

This week has been absolutely crazy. COMPLETELY, COMPLETELY CRAZY. I had two interviews with the president. In the first after confessing and discussing obedience, he told me and my companion after my interview that both of us were going to be transfered to an area called Satillite or at least the spanish word for that.

So I didn't know we weren't supposed to say goodbye or give any indication at all that we were leaving, and we did so to the three converts we have helped to learn the Gospel of Christ, and the member families. It was a kind of big thing, since Elder Orihuela has been here now 5 months.

Well, last night I called the President following his order to me cuz in the morning I let 2 women hug me (I made impossible for anyone else [to hug me] the rest of the day) to tell him about my disobedience. He talked to me in Spanish and with the help again of Elder Boulter I think (Cassie's friend slash Assistant to the President) and after gave me a challenge that will deeply, deeply impact the rest of my mission. Stay tuned for next week when I am authorized to talk about it. It will require me to completely, completely be humble, and depend on the dirrection of  the Holy Ghost, and I honestly have no idea how I can do it, but, I know I can with this help.

How went christmas? Considering that I have been quite worried about everything and stressed out basically since I got here, it was way, way good. Still a long shot from any christmas spent at home. Still tho, I got a wifebeater from Clelia (haha unfortunately I shall likely never use it) And various other gifts from members and investigators. We ate three meals of turkey on the 25th. The 24th we had splits with the zone leaders, which means that I went to their area, and one of them came to ours with Elder Orihuela.

I was with Elder Huccachuco from Peru. He is really, really, really awesome. I guess that explains why he is a Zone Leader, but I was constantly impressed by how great a missionary he is. By the way, there are about infinity things to know to be a missionary. First the lessons slash doctrine, we gotta know that. Second Spanish haha. Third we have to know how to interact with the ward leaders and members, we have to know how the missionary leadership works, we have know our area. We have to know how to set up and prepare and do baptisms. We have to know how to measure and improve our work. We have to know much more.

Really I have only just begun to feel like I'm about halfway there. I have plenty of time in the mission, but I have to know all this now.

Wowowowow. so yea I basically am freaking out for my future and what is going to happen.

Oh I wanna report on our companionship. It is great! I think we can say we are friends. Last night we couldn't sleep. I was sick, and my brain was sprinting (see next week). Elder Orihuela wasn't feeling to good either. Anyway the point is we talked a little bit before falling asleep. Also, he loved the presents y'all sent for him and I think they kind of saved his Christmas. His family has not called yet.  It is hard cuz they don't have a phone in their house.

One More Thing. On christmas, we ate tons and tons of paneton. Paneton is the traditional food of around here for parties, celebrations, times of happiness. We don't have it in the US, I think. Maybe you could find it in a Peruvian store, but it is basically cake that they buy. No frosting (haha) for those who don't like frosting. It is kinda like fruitcake and everyone loves it so much. I'm not too crazy for it but i like small quantities.

Thank you everyone who has sent me mail, packages, everything!

Brother Brooks, I am taking that challenge. For your interest if you are interested, would have gotten your letter about reading 30 min per day today, but I was on splits with the zone leaders Friday and they received it that day, the 24th of December. continues to be the best!!

Love Elder Johnson

Monday, December 20, 2010

Baptism and Bon Appetit!

Dear family,

We had a baptism this week!!! A nine year old girl, daughter of a family we found a few weeks back! Very exciting. We spent a long time preparing the chapel, the font. I fixed the mirror above the font so that the people could actually see unlike our first baptism, and people started filing in. Elder Orihuela and I gave talks, him on baptism, me on the Holy Ghost, various testimonies, very cool. The water was coooold but still worked out. Her cousin baptized her, a return missionary.

Hopefully I can send a picture back Internet is being weird, they aren't very good, Elder Orihuela has better but won't let me copy them from his camera.

So yea, that investigator is doing well. Her family likes us a lot, and expressed sadness at the idea that one of us will probably transfer this 2nd of January. Probably Elder Orihuela.

Others are Jose Roger and Beatrice, these three are brothers and sisters, their mom set us up with them, she still needs to receive the lessons herself, but yea they are good. Unfortunately we went a little time without visiting them, and they haven't been to church the past two Sundays, disqualifying them from being baptized good and soon.

Laura, an investigator who we used to teach a while back, we encountered again. It was a bit of a miracle. Standing about a mile away from her house, we asked ourselves which of three investigators needed us most. We felt like her, and when we arrived, she told us how she had been wondering when we would come back earlier that day. (after about a month of not seeing her). We teach her in this big room with sometimes a family member or two, that has a dark blue ceiling and only one light bulb.

Augustin. Argh. He has lost his animos [excitement] to be baptized.. hasn't been to church in 2 weeks. We talked with him and he said he wanted to talk with the bishop, which is good, but he should really just talk with us.  I don’t think it was about a sin, just whether he should be baptized. This is the one that went to church twice before we actually went to our citas [appointments] to teach him.,.. thinking this has something to do with that.

Mario. Hermana Marisol introduced us to Mario. He is about 25 and really, really humble and respectful. He basically lives all the commandments right now, and could easily be baptized. He accepted a date to be baptized our first (and only so far) meeting ( a sign of someone escogido [chosen]-- see Doctrine and Covenants 29:7)

Yenny (Jenny) has a goal to be baptized next week, but something is keeping her back. She knows for herself that the church is true ( like all those who are baptized ) but has some fear which she hasn't shared with us. Hopefully, hopefully. Her children yes can be baptized very soon.

We had the oddest lesson so far the other day, we were helping prepare chickens for the market in this family's house (in the mansion area-- poor) and they started asking us this: Which church is the true church of them all?. Very cool. Not cool though is skinning chicken feet with your fingernails.

I accidentally carved a hunk of my finger off yesterday-- about .25 grams or more maybe. didn't hurt tho thanks to the sharpness of the knife Juli gave me! Thanks!!

We contacted a man the other day who spoke like he was from Spain...had that accent. He also is named Percy, and had obviously taken great care to re-color his naturally bright red hair. I didn't ask if he still works for the Ministry of Magic now that Cornelius Fudge is out.


Elder Mark Johnson 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Merry Christmas Picture and a Picture of a meal

Dear Primary!

Thank you so much for the cards! They are awesome! And I am sure when my companion gets on email in a little bit he will appreciate them so much too! Ah christmas :)

It is HOT today. I'm betting it isn't over there on the far side of the equator.

Cultural note: Milk is delivered door to door by lecheros. They walk around carrying two of the classic metal big milk jars to the doors of their clients.

Today I am writing another letter. I wrote one hace quanto tiempo... mucho...[how long ago?] a month and a half [ago]? I also sent my memory card in that letter... so if it hasn't arrived... that's a problem. [If it hasn't yet] I shall ask the leaders. This new letter willl probably get in the mail system Thursday.

Thanks for the advice Dad, I definitely realized that was part of my problem. This week has been great. First I corrected that, then in a meeting of our zone, the Asistantes of the President came and talked a little about Alma 26:22. Just the very beginning of repentance. They invited us to take out a piece of paper and write down everything we are doing wrong, and fix them. I've been doing this. I haven't been apoyando [supporting] my companion, which is one things that lead to the problems I had. Other things that I have changed this week have allowed me to get along with him much, much better.

Also dad, my triple combination has broken. The spine that gets glued to the pages came off.. There is still a sticky flexible layer which will stick shortly, but delaminate also shortly if I open the book. What can I do to fix it? Rubber cement? Seek a book repairer? I have no idea where I'd find one here.

The food pictures goes like this.

Breakfast was bread and eggs. I really like this breakfast. Which is good cuz we have it almost every day. Other times we have it with meat in the bread, or some fruit thing. What you can't see here is that the temperature at 7:30 am when it was taken was PERFECT, refreshingly chilly. Sound: roosters crowing, dogs barking. Smell: that of sunny side up eggs and bread. Feel: er the bread warm, the seat hard.

Lunch: spaghetti. Acutally this meal is really uncommon. We have only had it one other time. It's good, but tastes quite different. Temperature was warm slash hot. Sound: fast eating, dogs barking. Smell: tomato sauce. Feel: rushed, we were running late for an appointment.

Dinner: Rice and potato with some sort of sauce. I like this one... all right. Not a lot. Have no idea how to describe the taste. The rice potato combo is really, really common.  I think I have gone maybe one day since arriving in Peru without eating rice... maaayyybee. Temperature: cool.  Sound: quiet, dogs barking. Smell: of the food.  Feel: relaxed, a little tired.

So what cool has happened this week? We will have a baptism next week! Preparing her has been really, really awesome. We teach her with her mom and sister who are less active members. They really have a passion for learning the gospel, and have returned to go to church with strength, along with our investigator.

I will write more detail in the letter!

Love Elder Johnson

Monday, December 6, 2010

6 December 2010

Dear Home,

I hope everything is dandy back home. 

Thank you so much for the packages and letters. Grandma Johnson´s to me was especially fortificating this week. 

This week I received 4 packages from the states! The Christmas packages have arrived mercilessly early, and now I face the constant temptation to rip them open, but I shall wait.

Also I got a stack of dear elders and two letters (thank you so much all you don't even know how much they were awesome). I think they have been building up somewhere. Anyway they are the best! Eric, I laugh every time I read your accounts of happenings back home. Mom your mission stories are the bomb, I wanna hear more. Interestingly, you had success amongst the young men, we usually teach women. Men seem to be more hard hearted in general. Hmmm.

This week we taught a investigator who we met first at church. He really has been prepared. As we taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he was talking about his desire to find something spiritual in his life, that he had what he needed temporaly (even though he is quite poor). He easily accepted the challenge to be baptized, and if we can get to teach him more (we can't seem to make it to our appointments with him (grumble)) he will be baptized very soon!

A member lent me a trench coat one frigid night when I forgot to coat myself, and I felt like a wizard with a wizarding robe.

I saw a member with a shirt from Busch Gardens 2002. No idea how that got here, but it's here. For those who don't know Busch Gardens [is a large, European themed amusement park renowned for its beautiful gardens in Williamsburg, VA.]

That's about a fifteenth [or what I'd like to write], but that's all I have time for. Gotta go! the work is improving btw!

Love Elder Johnson