Monday, April 25, 2011

25 April 2011

Dear familiia!

This week we had a zone conference. Probably the most notable occurance. It was great as always. Our mission president, and I suspect all [mission presidents], has a gift of inviting the spirit. It is just so strong when he teaches. No wonder he was the instument of the Lord of bringing so many people to repentance during his mission. That's my goal. to develop that gift.

Something that I learned is that the standards of excellence for the indicators of lessons, contacts, new investigators etc. are not randomly set goals, but rather Minimums that the Lord has set for us. So we are going to meet them.

I dunno if I introduced Gerald last week but he is the BEST. Turns out he was talking and meeting with the missionaries a long time ago. When we were teaching about the Priesthood, that it is something that is given, from Jesus Christ to the Apostles, to Joseph Smith, to... to me and my compañion, he really got it! By the way could I receive this list? Oh yea, when we were talking about that he started to tell us about his baby daughter who was really sick when the missionaries visited that time ago. They healed her by the power of God. So basically he already has a testimony. Oh also Friday he fasted (we haven't taught that yet) so that all the people of Leguía can be happier, praying to start and end it. WHAT!  Yes I know, but it gets better, he always prays and asks for direction and gets answers! HE IS SO READY.

In contrast we had a few encounters with Testigos [Jehovah's Witnesses]. I think the whole world, apart from us and Gerald, has not appreciated what we find in James 1:5, and all the times Chirst promised that if we ask we receive. The reality of personal revelation through the power of the Holy Ghost, makes it possible for ALL people to know the truth of the message that God has given us to proclaim. I just want everyone to believe in the scriptures enough to pray to know. But it's ok. I really feel like there are angels preaching the truths of the gospel to all, preparing people to talk to us and to have the desire [to learn more].

Well last week I mentioned about how much better was sacrament meeting having prepared [myself spiritually], and this sacrament meeting Sunday was even better, having prepared more! I hope all can have the desire to really renew their baptismal covenants during sacrament meeting and not just eat and bread and drink the water. The Ward Secratary: Elvis, asked me if I could give a 10 minute talk of Service, since the planned speaker didn't show up, and I was quite nervous... not having more than 9 minutes of notice... but after taking the sacrament I just felt so great. In my talk, I mentioned taking dinner to Mario, delivering cookies before christmas and a few other things, and talking, realized that I've been taught a good example of service. Thanks! During my talk basically all the ward was smiling and paying a lot of attention (possibly just because they had to press [pay] attention to understand), and walking back to my seat the stake patriarch (who about every Sunday tells me that an Elder Johnson baptized him) gave me thumbs up. That's just a long way to say that it's important to take the sacrament good [worthily and thoughtfully].

Right. So familiy that's about all for now. I hope everything's going great for y'all and thank you to everyone who sends me words and letters through the various means available. Always the best they are! [Gotta love the influence of the spanish grammar patterns in Mark's sentences.]

Love Elder Johnson

18 April 2011

Dear Family!

Yesterday a ton of people bought crosses made of palm fronds and little palm bouquets. That was a good business to be in yesterday, apart from the whole breaking the sabbath thing. 

This week I went in divisions [splits] with the Zone Leaders! I went to the area Granados with Elder Hunsaker and it was quite awesome. I learned a lot, a lot, and have been working in accordance with these things. The zone leaders are pretty great. Elder Hunsaker and Elder Huaccaychuco have been zone leaders now 8 months! They started when they had 1 year and now are just short of going home. Speaking of which, I feel like I am almost about to complete a year. Sooo crazy that I feel that way. It feels like I don't have any time to learn and do all I want to be able to! To the future missionaries: Prepare yourselves all you can before [your mission], starting months before!

Well, one thing that we struggled with this week was contacts. For the first time since Christmas (I think), we went though a week without talking with more than 200 new people. 196 was the final sum, and it was a great coincidence. Right after all the mission had reported all their numbers of the week, the mission offices called the zone
leaders, and they [called] the distric leaders, and they [called the members of] the districts, to comunicate that all those who had talked with fewer than 200 new people, would be spending their preparation day talking with people and looking for new investigators. So by a margin of 4 we lost P day. But it's fine.  There really should be something to see for a week spent almost dragging our feet. So the goal for today is to talk to 125 people! We will have a ton of extra time since the first planned appointments are at 6, when preparation day normally ends and normal proceedings proceed.

Sunday I felt really, really great leaving the chapel! We definitely were tools in the hands of the Lord to work His work in those hours. First, I prepared myself to take the sacrament in the morning before leaving. I think it was the reason for the awesomeness of the time. So getting there we met a friend of a member who was a full of desires to learn more and really enjoyed the proceedings. We also found Silvana, and young investigator who was completely, completely inspired by the excellent  Young Women's secretary. Go Young Women's secretary of Leguía! Later we met a woman who told us she wanted to reactivate herself and always come [to church]. She has a son who wants to be baptized. After the meetings we were able to coordinate with the ward leaders for visits of the recent converts, which is going to help them so much.

A checkup: Ximenna and Maritsa are doing great! The are coming every Sunday. They even went out to buy dresses to wear to church in (which is a big thing here, we are not rich) Ivan also is doing well. He went to conference and enjoyed it but did not go to church yesterday (noooo!) Junior also didn't... I am a little worried he is planning on just going to church with his girlfriend....

We met a lady named Marta Castro. She is Catholic, like almost all, but hasn't gone in forever, and wants to reform her relation with God. When we knocked on her gigantic door, she just let us in! (if y'all haven't noticed, it is my favorite when they do that, always makes me happy) Even though her children were playing poker, and listening to loud music, she wanted to listen, so she turned off the music, and unfortunately the children dispersed instead of listening. She and her husband paid a ton of attention and learned until something mysteriously grave happened in the other room and they had to attend to that. We had to leave without finishing but she did comment that she felt that she had been prepared to receive us and that no way would she normally invite us in. That was the best part!

Cindy is struggling. She isn't coming to church, and not reading, but she DID start to pray! She also said that she will only progress and do the commitments if I come to the lessons. That was a result of the companion interchange. When Elder Huaccaychuco went with Elder Mateus, she thought I had gone back to the States and she freaked out a little... but basically that wants to say [means] that although [its] heartbreaking and she feels bad and wants to repent of all the sins she frequently does, and become good and clean, she might not be able to at the moment. We shall see.

The April Liahona [] is absolutely the best. It has completely changed a part of my mentality and this change has helped me a TON. I don't know if the Liahona has the same articles as the Ensign, but I hope y'all can read what I got to. It should right?

Well folks. that's about all I have time for. Till next week!

Love Elder Johnson

Monday, April 4, 2011

4 April 2011

Dear Familia,

Another week has passed here in Tacna. And I have learned so, so much this week. Being with the added responsibility of District Leader has not been easy, but [it is] really satisfying when things go well.  I've got a lot of goals for the next 5 weeks for me and for our district. [A district is a small group of 8-10 missionaries who work in an area together.   They are led by the District Leader, one of the missionaries in the group.  For now, Mark is a District Leader]  Thank you very much for that insight mom.  I have been feeling that it would have been nice to have more examples before.

[The advice follows:    I remember my District Leaders quite well.  Here are some things I really appreciated from them: 1.  They really seemed to care about my motivation. 2.  They cared about my companionship relationship. 3.  They cared about what happened in my family's life  4.  A couple of times, they gave me blessings of comfort which I very much appreciated. 5.  They were spiritually inspiring and kept the district unified.  We did things together.   I really looked up to the District Leaders and appreciated them.]

Well, this week has been a great week. A little bit harder and I had to rack my brain a little bit more [on topics ranging from ] Conference to learning of a religion that teaches that we are anti-Christs (not at all sure why anyone would teach such blatant falseness= 2 Nephi 25:26 [which reads:

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

We have had ups and downs of course. I have been worried at the success in our area, and I am not sure if it is a result of the things we are doing or something else, or the evidence of something that was always there. I continue to ask myself why we aren't baptizing every single week. We just don't seem to be finding people who the Lord has prepared, like kind of before and like we really should.

But everthing is ok because HOW GREAT WAS CONFERENCE [Twice a year, there is a general conference that is broadcast to the world.  The prophet and apostles speak to us on a variety of topics  It is a wonderful opportunity in April and November of each year.  You can access the talks in video or printed format at after 4/9/11]. The best the best. It seemed way short too. After each session and after the afternoon of Sunday I really wanted to be able to go back to the Stake Center [the church building that usually has satellite access for these broadcasts] and listen to the prophets and apostles every day. But now we as a world have 6 months to learn, apply, and implement [the messages] into our lives.

I particularly liked the talks by Elder Oaks, and Elder Bednar, and Elder Christoferson, and President Monson.. o darn this list is getting to be all them. Well, we did struggle a little with the emphasis on marriage [Elder Scott's talk and President Monson as well].  haha. I just started changing the word and idea of wife to Elder Mateus, and the advice on how to have a great companionship, not marriage. It was working great for a little while, but then not so much [You'll just have to read it]. You might be able to recall where I gave up that comparison.

Elder Hunsaker (who goes home in 3 months, and is one of the two Zone Leaders) set a date for his marriage. November 18, which is a Friday. haha

In conference I was taught of hope, faith, and the importance of receiving revelation. Subsequently I realized a few things that I have to do right now.

Yesterday we were contacting, and a 19 year old person answered the door. I looked him in the eye and said, Buenas noches, soy elder johnson y mi companero es Elder Mateus, y somos mensajeros celestiales aqui para bendecir su familia. [ Good evening.  I am Elder Johnson and this is my companion, Elder Mateus and we are heavenly messengers here to bless your family]  He asked to consult with his family and they let us in to be able to hear the message! His family is great. They invited us after the lesson to dine with them. His sister is 21 and is very, very sharp, and well-versed in the scriptures. She was able to explain to her brother why the scripture so often interpreted to say that Pedro [Peter] was the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ and that he would create the church, says not that [It means that the church would be built on revelation]. She also gave me something to think about in relation to who receives the gift of the Holy Ghost in their lives.

I got a bunch of Dear Elders that were great! How interesting they all were. Les doy muchos gracias.[I thank you all very much!] Also a letter from Brother Brooks and from Kimmie. They were also the best. Ive been working on opening my mouth more.

One little boy asked me what a Giraffe is in Spanish. I laughed, but wait I still don't know.

Grandpa Johnson, have you looked for chaiasms in conference talks including within sessions as a whole? I was noticing the correlation just before Elder Holland talked and it made me wonder.

Eric, you could try practicing always the things you do know how to say with mom. She knows Spanish!

A new elder came to our zone. His name is Elder Bautista, or, one who baptizes. That will be funny for the missionaries in all of his areas over the next 2 years. He is great!

Well. That's about it. We talk next week!

Love Elder Johnson

Mark and Elder Mateos.