Monday, January 31, 2011

31 January 2011

Dear Family,

Wow this week was really intense. It started to rain everyday, which definitely doesn't help us out. Misty (the volcano) disappeared for the time being. Clouds have descended in the valley of Arequipa. I'm looking forward to the end of "summer".

This week Miguel was baptized. It was a very, very happy moment for us and him. Unfortunately his family didn't come, and don't support it, but he knows that he has received an answer to his prayer from God by the Holy Ghost.

In his testimony he told us that when we did the opening prayer for our first lesson, he felt something he has never before felt. And that when we did the closing even stronger, and every time he reads the Book of Mormon, and every time he talks with us. Wow.

The lady that I wrote about (Yurnet) who promised us she would finish the Book of Mormon before Saturday almost did. Got to Mormon [a chapter near the end]  I think!!!! She really wants to become a new better person. That is her goal for summer break (this time of year here). We would very much like to help her with this. Only problem is that her family is very, very dedicated to a particular religion, and possibly they will refuse to pray like did Miguel [you can see the influence of Spanish grammar in that sentence]. But we are hopeful. Yurnet is very special.

Yesterday we met with a family. They were pretty awesome. We talked with two of them twice last week, and they brought themselves to church! One of their friends was at their house too, and really they have so much faith. We talked a bit about how there have always been prophets, about the restoration of the priesthood, and prayer. When I asked them what they would do if they received an answer to their prayer, Silvia said "the first thing I would do would be to get baptized again, then go to church and maintain strong in the faith"

We met one member of this family in the street, but didn't get their address, and a few days later we were walking and felt like we should knock the door of a yellow house. And there they were!

What more... Thanks for all the support by email and letters! I think they come in bunches every two weeks of both the weeks. Eric continues to be a Dear Elder superstar.

Mosiah 18:22

Love Elder Johnson

24 January 2011

Dear Family,

MOM! I just realized that I don't think I ever wished you happy brithday in my emails. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I dunno how that happened but I didn't forget.

I'd love our young men to help us out all the time. One told us we can call him up at any time any day. Definitely we are going to do that.

How went the skiing???? Anyone learn sweet tricks? Mom did you ski at all?

I don't feel very fluent in English right now..

Well this week was eventful. We call contacting, when we talk to people for the first time. This week I had my 1000th conversation with the people. Yenny, from Puno (in Peru) wasn't very interested. Haha, but it was cool. My goal for 2000th is three weeks. We had 83 contacts Wednesday.

Last week we made burritos on P-day with our pensionista. They were really, really good. Really good. Makes me miss Chipotle a lot. We made everything even the tortilla, which was actually really easy. Corn flour, egg, and a little water.

In a bus I met a return missionary who was in Tegucigalpa Honduras last year. It was cool to talk to her but I didn't learn anything about Honduras apart from a few of their slang words that are different than Peruvian. Also in the busses [there] has been really, really popular song that goes : ¨the club cant even handle me right now¨.

A while ago this young person (Beatrice) told the lady that she wants to be baptized. Si o Si [Yes oh Yes!]. The only problem has been finding her and getting to teach her. Yesterday we taught her and her family minus her dad, they all accepted a goal to be baptized the 12th of February! I hope nothing happens with them. They are great.

This week we say one smart dog, and one not so smart dog. The second was playing with a rock, dragging it down a hill, carrying the rock back up, and dragging down, for at least an hour. The first had learned that if it wanted to get in the hour, all he had to do was knock.

We had a lesson with three young people. At the start, one told us God doesn't exist. At the end, he said "I have tons of faith!" His sister read the intro to the Book of Mormon and 3 Nephi 11. The next day we passed by and she said she read both, and she will now read the whole book before Saturday. WHAT? I really didn't believe her but she said she'll do it so I am really excited for Saturday.

Miguel went to church yesterday which means that YES he CAN be baptized this Saturday! We will be passing everyday with him. The first lesson with him, he prayed and asked if the restoration, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. And then 30 seconds later told us that he had gotten his answer by the Holy Ghost (see Moroni 10: 3-5 --- also James 1:5 --- and about a hundred and twenty other scriptures).

Today we will visit a family who was baptized about a year ago, but their dad never was. I hope, hope he will be there. They told us that they would all go to church yesterday, but didn't... It's ok tho since we happened to meet their dad in the street, and he is excited to resume talking to the missionaries.

These past weeks I've been really wondering why we haven't had any [more?] success. It seems there is still something big keeping us from being the servants who can find all the prepared and nourished trees (see Jacob 5, D&C 29:7)

I am excited today to have a little bit of time to read extra in the Libro de Mormon [Book of Mormon]. I am right now in the first chapter of Mosiah, and especially enjoyed Jarom and Enos this time around.

What more can I say. There is a ton of snow on Misty, but no picture cuz also there are a ton of clouds in that direction. Looks like only one of my pictures is going to upload in time.  Wow the internet is going sluggish. OH NO! I dunno what happened but I died too. Maybe it's stored in a draft mom you might be able to recover it.

Thanks for all the Dear Elders [letters.  see and choose the Peru Arequipa pouch mail.  Address your letter to Elder Mark Johnson]!


Elder Johnson

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Friday, January 21, 2011

17 January 2011

Dear Family

Muralkjfsa you are all skiing?? I wanna. Oh well. I very very much like being here too. This week has been interesting. Miguel, from last week, had some doubts about getting baptized. He went to the Noche Missional [Missionary night] this Friday, and while there, Elder Hernandez pointed out the painting of Jesus Christ being baptized that was in the same room. Miguel was surprised that we baptize like that (banging head on keyboard) and when Elder Hernandez asked how he felt about being baptized like that, he said he was ready!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The 29th will be his goal. Ademas [Furthermore] we have a plethora of other possible people.. All we need to do is let the Holy Ghost testify to them, and help them recognize [the truth].

We taught a lesson to a group of ladies once they finished a class of learning how to write for the day. One of the practice sentences in the goverment issued writing books was "Rotilde does not let her children take drugs." Pretty prevelant propaganda in the books.

Another person, really a friend of a member, passed by this members house after we contacted her (as told by the member) and demanded our phone number and address and email address and everything because she has to be baptized. I really hope we can finaly find her.

Elder Hernandez is getting used to Peru. They speak a little different in Guatemala. For example, here, "que chevere" means more or less "cool". But for him it means "What Hotdog". In addition, some of the normal semi slang terms that could be used in church here, are offensive words.

Unfortunately, he his suffering a bit of pain due to something going on with his stomach. Today we are going to buy meds for that. The pain is degrading his ability to work every minute of the day. Which reminds me...

Along with the picture of the scripture, I wanted to send back 2 Nephi 25:29. I am reading the Libro de Mormon [the Book of Mormon] for the second time since leaving now and well, this time I will understand the first half. I liked this scripture a lot, because it reminded me that we [I] need to work with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. (see DyC 4:2)

Y'all went to the Salt Lake Temple?? I have been wanting to go soo bad. Really what we need in Arequipa is a temple, so we can go on P days. The closest is in Lima, an hour and a half in airplane. Mom and Dad did y'all get to go in?

On Thursday we had a Zone Conference. It was awesome. Between 1:30 p.m. and 8:40 p.m., and in the words of my long lost friend, Elder Badjinski ( wow... forgot how to spell his name even!) It was a spiritual feast! He is in Ecuador now.

I left with so much excitement to get to work that 2 hours later when we went to bed I couldn't sleep. The hardest will be managing all the appointments that will come when we start doing all the contacting we should be doing, but that's fine. Splits [That's where a the missionary goes with a member of the church and his companion goes with another member of the church. That way, they can contact twice as many people].

Yesterday we were contacting on the edge of a large field with sheep and cows. We talked with one lady who was wearing the most incredible clothes. Remember the Peruvian culture thing we went to last summer [at the Indian Museum in downtown D.C.]? She was like that, but MORE colorful. I wanted so bad to take a picture of her, the background and everything but alas didn't have my camera. It was way cool.

Also a little bit before, and a little after I almost got eaten by a huge dog, we knocked a door. A 12 year old girl came out and when she saw us, called her dad. Her dad came, and she came to watch. He started to try to confuse us... Started talking about a lot of confusing things in the Bible, and actually contradicted himself about 4 times... I didnt feel good talking to him at all and was a little sad how closed he was... I tried to help him be a little open, but nothing. Interestng how you can study the Bible for a really long time (him 25 years) and be so disbelieving, and more, confused. The invitation in the final two paragraphs of the introduction [to the Book of Mormon] is to the whole world. If they read the Book of Mormon, and reflect on it, and pray and ask to know if it is true, they can know by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true. A fufillment of a promise: I wasn't confudido [confused].

In this transfer, my goal is to become the missionary I should be.

Love Elder Johnson

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

10 January 2011

Dear Family,

Wow did my letter from November really just get there??? Tha'ts ridiculous. I'm sending another today.. my second. Y'all can expect it around June I guess. It should actually be faster... it was waiting in the house of the Zone Leaders for about a month I think (frustration).

Eric, I laughed reading your Dear Elder I got this week. Mom, Christmas here definitely was different than yours. Did they do a lot for New Years too?

Right so my new companion is Elder Hernandez. He is from Guatemala. Speaks ridiculously way fast. I understand about 50 percent of his sentences, although almost 100 percent of the sentences of people from Peru.

He is also way, way prepared which makes sense, since I have only 2.16 transfers in the mission. Before his mission he was second counselor of the Elders Quorum, Ward mission leader (I think..) and was going out with the missionaries every day. He has three plans to work with the ward. We have started to implement the first, having a big activity with a different orginization each week. This week is Young Men. Tomorrow we are gunna split up with about 10 of them and go proselyte the whole area.

Elder Hernandez is really excited to start having success with these plans, which they were doing in his ward before and had a lot of success. The others are that we have a 4 or so families each week with whom we visit their friends, family and neighbors who aren't members. And the last is similar to this one and the first, working with organizations to receive lots of references. His plans are basically the plans I had but much more developed!

I am still in the same area, Augusto Freyre of the Hunter area slash stake in the city of Arequipa, Peru. We are about the most southern end of the city and valley before the hills start back up again. At night we get a great view of millions of street lights all throughout Arequipa stretching far, far, far away, and in the day, the imposing triple threat of the three Volcanoes that head Arequipa. (Only one is active... the missionaries will be visiting the other two)

New responsibilities are.. everything. Before, basically Elder Orihuela did everything. Now I have a companion who doesn't necessarily know what we need to do. It's hard, but interesting. He is learning fast. Also, he's learning how to speak more like a Peruvian so I can understand him.

We are starting to work with the Ward (see the three plans). We met with the bishop (who was an assitant to the president in his time) and he burned us a little for not having worked with the ward the past 12 weeks, but he is gunna help us change all that. Apparently about 24 weeks ago, work with the ward more or less stopped. I am glad they were doing a lot before. ╩It's gunna be more easy to start up again than start brand new with them.

Next week we have talks in church again.

This week we have worked a lot harder than any of the weeks before, but still nos falta mucho [we lack much]. There are 7 people who have a date to be baptised, but... since none of them went to church yesterday... we shall see. I hope they can.

Miracle: Miguel. Miguel is a joven [young man] of 14 years old. We met with him in the store of a member and set a date to go to his house. There we talked with them and they really knew for themselves ( his parents too) that they should be baptised. Our next visit he had read all of the Restoration pamphlet, answered the questions in the back, had found a Book of Mormon in his house, and was way way excited to keep learning. He is awesome! I hope we don't do anything wrong with him.

Miracle: Shan. Shan was a contact in the Mansion area. In the contact he agreed that if he received an answer to his prayer if he should be baptised, he would do it the 22 of January. Second visit we found out yes he recieved his answer and that basically his life has changed way for the better since his prayer.

Miracle.. ah don't have time

Love Elder Johnson.

Monday, January 3, 2011

3 January 2011

Dear Familia,

Ok, so this week has been crazy!

Right.  So I had to go to Central Arequipa Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for three 8 hour training sessions. It was a really, really cool experience. There were 61 Elders: all the Zone Leaders, all the District Leaders, and all the Trainers. Which raises the question, why was I there?

My new companion I think is Elder Fernandez. He will come tomorrow, and has 3 weeks total in the mission. Straight from the CCM. Honestly I have no idea how we are going to do, but am determined to do good. It will actually be a great experience, us two verdecitos [brand new missionaries] will have the opportunity to have to completely rely on the Spirit in everything we do. If we do, I'm confident we can be good instruments of the Lord and be the means of bringing many of the people in our area through the metaphorical door which leads to salvation.

Apart from that, this week I have been trying to be better, tho hard due to New Years and other circumstances. New Years here in Peru is crazy. Everybody buys tons of fireworks, and all at once at midnight set them all off. Imagine how it is then for us here in Arequipa since there are several million people. I woke up at 12 (yes we were in bed at 10:30!) to all the fireworks. Three to four loud ones per second for about 10 minutes, with more than I could distinguish echoing around for about 30 minutes. I really, really wanted to get out and look at the undoubtedly incredible scene (everyone was using fireworks that shoot up in the sky and explode) but... had to sleep.

I have had some great experiences with our lessons this week. I feel like I have improved so much, even though I'm still so far from adequate. We have been teaching two kids who we thought would be convert baptisms, but turns out they are in the church records. But still exciting that they got baptized Sunday! That means that the large family they belong to only needs one more [baptism] to be total members! Goal for her is January, and she really wants to be baptized.

So yeah, I said bye to Elder Orihuela this morning, and in the nomenclature of the missionaries, he will be a grandpa tomorrow. [The trainer of a trainer].  We went to the bus stop (it was kind of like an airport, but no security.. I really wanted to buy some of the bread stacked in piles of 400 or so rolls) and met with the other missionaries who are leaving the city of Arequipa for the other places that lie within the boundaries of the mission Peru Arequipa, like Tacna, Mocegua (where Elder Orihuela is going) and a few other places like that...

Unfortunately this week we have lost 4 of the investigators I thought would surely be baptized. They are still around, but 2 have a rather large impediment that turns out won't get resolved this week, or the next, and 2 others... ya with them it is complicated.

Awesomely now we have 45 minutes for internet, but in addition we have to email our mission president in this time. Before we were writing letters weekly. Email should be easier for him.

So yea right now I'm with the zone leader (his companion will be coming sometime..) and I am not entirely sure how I will pass the day until my future companion comes... and with whom... but I have spare clothes in my backpack just in case.

We were in the street the other day and started talking to some people. First a husband and wife. They obviously had a lot of faith, and I really think they can have the faith to pray and ask if they should be baptized again (what we invite all to do). I don't really understand why this step is such a big stumbling block. It seems that everybody doesn't really believe that their prayers can be answered. If they understand and had the faith to ask, then they would receive their answer that they should, and we can't deny an answer from God.

We were asking another couple to do so, and they had been really in agreement with all we said before, but at this point solidly began to give us reason after reason why they couldn't.

Another person, we were knocking the door of someone we talked to a while ago, and her neighbor came out. So I started talking with him, and he was really interested. When I invited him to pray to know if he should be baptized, he was unsure, so I asked if he believed that God can answer prayers. He told me no. So we kept talking and he invited me to come back. He too will receive and answer, but I think it will take a little more time.

Well then, next week I expect to be able to report that we will have worked with all our heart, might, minds, and strength, and will have had the opportunity to help the people here a lot. Also coming up next time will be about my new companion!

Love Elder Johnson