Monday, June 27, 2011

Transfer to Camana, Peru! 6/27/11, Zone Leader

Mark's new area:  Porvenir in Camana


Querido Familia,
Sorry I couldn't email the last week! I woke up at 12:30 a.m. again to get that call. At 6:00 a.m., I was in the bus terminal and at 7:00 a.m., I was on the road leaving Tacna. By 1:00 p.m., I was in Arequipa and bought another ticket to go to Camaná. My new companion is Elder Hunsaker. I have mentioned him before since he was my Zone Leader in Tacna when I had just barely arrived. He is a great, great missionary and I am very happy to be his companion. A great opportunity to learn a BUNCH.
Our area is called Porvenir, and we are a little branch in the hills of Camana. All of my areas so far have been on the outskirts of whatever city I have been in. It is a seaside city and the valley area is mostly used with farm fields. It is very, very pretty and this afternoon in my preparation time I am planning on going up the hills to the last areas to take pictures. When I got here I was stunned.
Eric I wanted to thank you for being so awesome at writing EVERY Sunday!
The people here are very, very nice, very, very humble, and I am thinking it is a very chosen place, we just need to turn it into a little Zion.
Elder Hunsaker says I have to tell y'all about Victor and Juan. Victor and Juan are the BEST. We contacted Juan about 5 days ago and it was amazing. He is so interested and intelligent. We gave him a pamphlet and made another appoinment. In the second, his brother came out to talk with us too (they have one of those family stores). The third time we came, we asked them about their reading in the pamphlets. They had read them really closely and asked questions about the difference between the baptism of Joseph Smith and the difference between the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthoods. It was awesome! We asked Victor if he had prayed and asked God if it was true the message, and he said he did.
He said that when he asked, he felt something really strong, a peace and a feeling very spiritual that it is true. Juan also felt the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23). Very happy, we were. Walking out Elder Hunsaker told me: "up top"
We have some great people and missionaries in this zone!
Love you all!
Elder Johnson

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13, 2011

This picture came from Elder Erhard's parents. Mark's on the left, Elder Erhard is next,, his companion, and then Elder Mateus.

Jessica Silva and Edwardo Palomino baptism along with Mark and Elder Mateus
Dear Family and friends,

We learned a ton this week. We had an interesting curve of results graphed by time that showed lots of faith at the start, and then a large drop, and a huge rise Sunday. We need to try to not have these drops. Sunday we found 4 new people to teach and [it] was basically the best. This week we have been inviting everyone [to learn about the church].

This process of inviting many more people has helped me a lot. I feel like I'm talking to them with a real goal of the conversation, to help them repent and make covenants with God. In the course of the week, we invited 62 people to be baptized [on] the 25 of June or the 2 of July. About 11 of them we will continue looking for, although all said yes. We invite so many people because we know that they need it and that by the means of preparing for the 25th or the 2nd, reading the Book of Mormon every day, pondering the message, and praying and asking God if it is true, could be one of the greatest blessings for them in their life, and for all their descendents. Inviting so many times per day also makes you think a lot about how to be more like the prophets and apostles.

So this week we had the great blessing of baptizing Jessica Silva and Edwardo Palomino. Brother Palomino asked me to baptize him and Sister Silva asked the second counselor of the bishopric. It was a really awesome baptismal service. The primary sang, two sisters from the Relief Society sang too, Elder Mateus directed, and the spirit was very strong. The wife of a contact from a few days ago came too and she even invited a few members to her future baptism. It was very wonderful. Every Saturday I want to do that. We had arrived in the early morning to fill up the baptismal font and try to warm it up a little, trying everything from heating up buckets on the stove and pouring them in, to putting an iron in a pot and floating it in the water, but entering [the font] it was quite frigid. Nevertheless, Sister Silva and Brother Palomino bravely entered (after overcomming the shock)

Last night we were walking back to the house and a man called us out and asked if we remembered him. We went over and remembering him started to begin to talk. Three men passed us and both Elder Mateus and I felt that it was the time to go. Three seconds later the guy who called us said, "Careful, they are thieves, and we saw that one had a metal pole, the other a knife, and the other something else. Unfortunately as we abruptly left, they heard the remark and turned heel and started arguing. Turning the corner a police truck passed us and we flagged them, sending them to try to do something for the man we know and his friend. I'm glad we knew we had to leave right then and weren't in the area even one second more...

Stake conference was yesterday! The Temple presidents came from Lima and were the best. We had brought an investigator named Jesus who wanted to talk to them. Wow, very cool. They talked about temples. Haha but also about the reality that they [temples] are the House of the Lord, Houses of Miracles. And about the 5 things that we must do to live with God again.

Wow I just received 17 Dear Elders. Muchos [many] thank yous for the packages and letters from family and friends!

I think I shall be writing a letter today, and I will take my shoes to be re-soled so that I have two working pairs. It costs about 20 soles for gringos, probably about 10 for latinos. I'll send my compañion in front.

Love Elder Johnson

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

6 June 2011

Dear family,
June 6, 2011

Wow I just read the awesome story the Elder Wood sent home. The best!

Now that I get to interview the baptismal candidates, I get to have really spritual experiences on Wednesdays. I think I have had at least one interview ever week this last month. They are great.

This week I want to share about two of the interviews. First, a young person who prayed at the end of our interview promised God that he will keep the commandments of the word of wisdom, the law of chastity, the day of the Lord, and Tithing, and that he will go on a mission when his time comes. Talking with him was just the best. It was quite obvious that he has received a testimony of the truth. I asked him how he felt about the church and the lessons from the missionaries and he said that every time he is there, he feels a joy or a special happiness in him that he knows is from God. Really, really was the best.

One of the others from this week was a young person who had to leave early from the interview. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to create a good enviorment for the interview but asking him about the commandmentsand asking him what he thought about them, he said, of course I will live the commandments. They are from God. They are commandments. Like, who am I to not do what God wants me to do. The way he said it was sooo sure and demonstrated such a maturity of faith and understanding of God.

Apart from those two great moments Thursday and Wednesday, we got to teach Jessica Silva. She has been preparing for her goal of the last week, but since the members have been failing us, she wasn't ready. So we wernt sure that she would feel ready for this week either but yesterday she said,  "Yeah, this Saturday I want to get baptized! But make sure the water is nice and warm, because [I don't want to get baptized] in cold water.
Not sure what we will be able to do to warm it up since the church doesn't have a water heater, but maybe we shall throw in an iron or two [?], calculate how much water, the approximate temperature change required, and the power of the irons to get the time. Should be quite some time.

My birthday was really great. Since the elections were yesterday we couldn't leave until 4pm. We got to extend the normal studies until that hour. I had completely forgotten that it was my birthday unitl we went to eat breakfast with the Tuyo family, and they suprised me with a little Peruvian tradition of throwing colored paper clippings on me. At first I thought, happy birthday to who? I haven't told ANYONE but her (about 2 months ago) and my companion, so I was thinking absolutely nothing would happen out of the normal. She gave us some chocolate cake and a very good plate of Rice with Chicken for lunch.

During all the reading time I finished Jesus The Christ! What an amazing book. I'm gunna [going to ] start it again since I didn't really understand the first chapters. [It] took me exactly 365 days... but for a lot of that I wasn't reading daily.

Love Elder Johnson

30 May 2011

Dear family,
May 30, 2011
Well. The month of May has passed and we haven't successfully invited anyone to follow Jesus Christ. Christian and Josue want to be baptised but their mom doesn't want them to. Victor is still the best, and wants to go to church forever, but still fears praying and asking God if the Iglesia de JesuCristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Días is true. Gerald has in his mind August [for baptism], which might turn out since he is facing a few struggles with the Commandments, Adela is having lots of marrige struggles and for that doesn't want to continue so much being a part of the church of the father of her daughter. Edwardo is progressing and [his baptism] is a possibility for this Saturday! Also, Jessica is progressing and is a possible baptismal candidate.
This week I have been trying to bring the spirit into the lives of all the people I can possibly give. Well, more the last two days. Thursday and Friday we had a problem. I think we were relying more on our own ability and didn't actually teach anyone in a real lesson. We couldn't invite anyone to learn about Jesus these two days. Later I figured I needed to rely more on God and we were blessed with 4 lessons per day Saturday and Sunday. I want to become a teacher more like Christ. Me falta mucho pero estoy aprendiendo. [I lack a lot, but I'm still learning] With that goal, we met Leo.
Leo is very smart, and said that he is very religious but doesn't asist [attend] any church because feels like they are corrupt and not the most efficient way to follow Christ. Well, we talked a little, and I was definitely feeling the Spirit. We explained very simply about the Great Apostasy and he was totally in agreement with everything. We explained the Restauration [Restoration] and he got a little cold. Leaving, I asked myself  how is it that someone who seems to be pious and realizes the Apostasy can reject the message and the feelings we brought. The first words the Jesus Christ spoke in this dispensation answered my question.
In Jesus The Christ, I read about the Apostasy. James E Talmage definitely felt strongly about it. It is a pretty amazing chapter. Read it! And then read the Chapter of the Resauration [Restoration]. He says that in 1820, for the fourth time, God the Father gave simple testimony of Jesus Christ and that His commandments should be followed. I liked that part.
Sadly the huge dog that lives on our roof fell off today. From the third floor. We hope he can recover, but [he] at least broke his leg. One of the four. And I'm sure he has a concussion. We saw him shaking for the shock and pain right after he fell and before the family took him to the vet.
I have been a little worried about Leguía because now that I feel like those who I contact really have the chance to receive a testimony from the Holy Ghost that we are ministers of Christ, and that still tons reject us... what does that mean for them. I feel like almost all Leguíans pass through life spiritually blind. I want to open their eyes. We pray every day that the Spirit can be poured over our area and prepare the people to hear the gospel.
Lastly, in my studies, I have taken apart Jacob 5: the Lord of the Vineyard. It is pretty awesome. I like especially how much the Lord works for the vineyard and how much He worries about it. Also I like that He planted a tree in a part that was really, really dry and infertile, but knew that the tree could do it [survive and even thrive---I imagine this hits home because of the terrain around Leguia]] and helped the tree a lot. Interestingly, lots of times it repeats that the branches that don't give good fruit are cast off and burned.
A week of lots of work comes.
(firma) [signature]
Elder Johnson