Monday, October 31, 2011

31 October 2011

Mark and Elder Ortiz under a tree in Camana

Mark running down the street in Camana so he has time to write his letter  home.

Nighttime in Camana

Querido Familia [Dear Family],
31 October 2011
How good it is to write y’all again. This week has been very good. My companion and I have been doing some good work and last night, I knocked a door. The lady opened up and said that every night she asks herself two questions: Why are there so many churches and how can she know what is true? At the same time my companion contacted a lady who walked by and they started talking about I’m not exactly sure what since my attention was on the other, but more or less how we gave her a pamphlet a while ago and she read all of it (pretty rare) and she kept studying it and really wants to know more!
In that moment I really felt like the Lord is preparing people her to receive the gospel.
I think what we need to work on helping all these people we find on progressing towards baptism. The Encontrar, Ensenar, Bautizar, Confirmar, Encontrar [find, teach, baptize, confirm, find]....etc. circle is a little stuck on the Find position. 
I don’t know if I wrote about this guy last week, but there is a member in our branch who works in a mine about 4 hours away. He was telling me about how it’s a little difficult for someone to follow the teachings of Christ while working in the mine since all are men there and they just drink and talk about foul things usually. What he does is take a bus at 3 in the morning every 
Sunday to get to Camaná (the closest city) by 8 and be able to get to church. What a great example. He is the Sunday School President and is the best.
One of the great moments this week was also when we were tracting, and we found ourselves across the street from a former investigator. His wife was heading to the grandma’s house right when we got there. Here in Peru, many live in the same area as their grandpas, parents, children, grandchildren etc and often in the same house. He asked us to go in and talk with him. He talked about how he was sad about the problems he has been having with his partner and we conversed about who God is, what He wants for their family, the Law of Chastity, and the Sabbath Day.
I sent y’all a picture of Elder Ortiz and I under a tree that’s pretty far away from our house but in front across the fields.
Another of us with me running this morning to get the camera after the first picture on our front street (taken by the son of our Pensioner who is named Juan Jose Vilca) and make it to meet with the Zone to write home on the internet on time.
The mission secretary of materials called me this morning and told me that I’ve got a box! I’ve got to do a power letter (carta de poder en ingles??) so they can go get it for me in the mail place in Arequipa and send me it.
We found out why some people don’t listen at all to us.  A person we were teaching told us at the end of a lesson, but you all aren’t weird... I already believed in the first half you told me and  I can pray to know about the second (the message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Chirst) ... Why do the missionaries of (x) church say that I shouldn’t talk to y’all? [Note from Rene’: I finally realized why Mark has started using y’all so regularly.  In Spanish, there is a word for the plural of “you”.  “You” can mean either plural or singular in English.  So, as he thinks in English and translates from Spanish, he wants the plural form of “you” and gives us “y’all”.]
I was feeling like the religious excitement that was present in the time of Joseph Smith is to a certain extent true here too. Maybe not sooo much but there are lots and lots of churches, and most of the people we talk to are just wondering why there are so many and what’s up.
The new missionaries who came to the zone seem pretty awesome! There is a different feel going on in the zone and what we have to do is refine it.
In my personal study this morning, I continued studying the ministry of Christ and got to the end of his ministry in the Americas again. What stood way, way out this time through those 20 excellent, excellent chapters of scriptures was the desire of the heart of the three Nephites. They not only wanted to do what was asked of them in their discipleship, but wanted to be in the service of the Lord until the end, until Christ comes again. I thought about my personal commitment to service. It made me think a lot. I would love to get to know them. Lots of time for personal refinement.
Mucho amor a todos ustedes [Much love to everyone],
Elder Johnson

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

24 October 2011

Beautiful sky in Camana

Baptism in Camana with Mark and Elder Ortiz

Dear Family and friends,
How’s life going? I’m making good progress on the letter. Today I wrote a bunch of your letter to y’all. 
I'm pretty content right now. Mainly because of a lot of things but anyway, I shall explain.
This week I was really, really worried. Maybe you could tell [last] Monday, but President Fernandez came to Camanà to do interviews with us.  His advice really, really helped me so much. He helped me to understand better the Atonement, not by talking, but by making two questions. They were so effective. Anyway just goes to show that questions can be very effective ways to teach when they are inspired questions.
As part of the interview my “lovely” companion and I were together with him talking about the Zone, who needs what, and about our relationship as compañions. 
After the interview we went on companion interchanges [exchanges] and I went with a member who was with us for 6 weeks subbing as a companion with Elder McNeil. In their area we got to teach almost every hour we were there, which helped me a lot to remember that we CAN. I want to make my relationship with my companion perfect. That means I’ve got to keep changing myself some more but that’s ok.
HOLY COW did we find someone. As we were finishing the interchange, The Hermano Snyder and I were looking for Elder Ortiz and Elder McNeil. We contacted a lady who wanted to know bad the answer to a question: Which of all the churches is true and how can she know??? (see “The only true and living church” by Elder Oaks,
 Anyway we read a scripture with her, and since we were super in a hurry we set an appointment to come back Sunday. Sunday she was there and really, really ready. We knocked the door and she walked out and sat on the curb and, looking up at us said, “Lets talk.” So anyway we taught her the first lesson and followed the guide of the Holy Ghost and she was so happy to be able to know the answer. She committed herself to praying to know if it is true and to ask if she should be baptized. She said she would follow the answer with such certainty, and expressed the history she has had with prayer. The short [story] is that years ago she was a little bit... sick. Praying and praying, putting all her trust in the Lord, God answered her prayers.
Today is the day of transfers. There were quite a few in the Zone and we are going to be working Hard this next month. One zone in the mission has had 33 baptisms with 9 companionships.  We are going to follow their example and make Camana into a place of miracles.
In my personal study I am focusing again more on the mortal ministry of Christ. I’m starting by reading 3 Nephi 9-28 and will then go to the New Testament with Jesus the Christ again. I want to become much more charitous [charitable] and wax strong like it says in D&C 121:45 :

[ 45 Let thy abowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let bvirtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy cconfidence wax strong in the dpresence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the edews from heaven.]
Ok.  Well, that’s about it. Time to go eat! We are gunna [going to] do good this week. Hasta el proximo lunes! [Until next Monday!]  

Con MUCHO Amor,  

Elder Johnson

Monday, October 17, 2011

17 October 2011

Querida Family, (Dear family),


Que tal! Espero que se encuentren MUY bien y que estan dandose cuenta de las bendiciones que estan recibiendo.
[How are you! I hope that you find yourselves very well and that you are realizing the blessings that you are receiving.]

This week I got a pretty intense cold, and now that I’m finally getting over it, my companion’s got it. But that’s how it is I guess when you are with someone 24/7.

The transfers are next week but I don’t anticipate a change as the new direction is that we will be in the areas for 6 to 9 months in general, and I’m about to finish 4.5, but we shall see.

The other day we passed an investigator who was outside his farm wall. We saw him from afar shooting up a tree with his slingshot. When we got there a bird fell out of the tree and he picked up the stunned hawk. He said it was a Cernicalo (that’s Spanish and I have no idea how to write it so I think it sounds the same in English.. so, well, there it is.) It was a very pretty bird, and apparently it had swooped in and taken one of his chicklets up to the tree for a little snack. I dunno what he did with the stunned bird, but he was very amused that he could catch it. Haha.

I laughed, as they say, out loud, when I read that Dad finally got to go scuba diving and to take a dance class. Sounds like it was fun. Did the brothers get to scuba too?? I would love to someday.

Thank you all for writing, I just got 9 Dear Elder letters. Eric is making BANK! Shakespeare is still cool. It seems like everyone and their dog is on vacation to Europe, South American countries. Pretty amazing. I very much enjoyed reading the stories. I think I commented about this last week, but I’m slowly progressing on a letter that I shall send home all at once.

Well, so here we are. We passed another interesting week. We did compañion interchanges with Brother Valdez from Arequipa and his companion Elder Davey. It went very well and here in Porvenir, we found a bunch of people to teach and I was very happy to hear that Brother Valdez commented at the end of the day: "Wow, so many people! They are so interested! This is AWESOME!" haha. It was a pretty great day.

I mentioned that we have these card things. They contain the key doctrines of each point in Preach my Gospel, along with some good questions, some words to define, some other stuff, and on the back, it has a section that has a self-evaluation which has questions like: Do the investigatores [investigators] understand their relation with God, and the trinity, and do the Investigatores [investigators] understand the role of the family in the earth, and eternity. Some of these things are special for our mission since we have a characteristic set of traditions and beliefs that have arisen since the Great Apostasy. (That’s a book I also want to read, but after the Miracle of Forgiveness)

They are pretty sweet.

Love Elder Johnson

Monday, October 10, 2011

10 October 2011

Dear family,
How is the ward doing? We had a missionary from our zone go to the Lima temple this week. It’s a 1.5 hour plane ride. I would love to go so much. When is the next youth trip to prepare for?

Right now we are passing some high school students running and yelling like soldiers training. I think it’s part of their gym class. That’s cool. They’re running in the street and taking up the whole thing.

The letters get here on a de ves en cuando [every once in a while] basis. But thanks so much all for writing them! They come every few weeks all together every chance that the mission office has to send us packages.

So this week was interesting. We had the monthly zone leader’s conference in which we learned a lot. We are going to implement a new system that will help us teach better. The first week using it was very hard. It’s just a card that has some important points of each lesson and stuff that will help the investigatores [investigators] understand better the lessons. Preach My Gospel says that the better they understand the doctrine, the better the Spirit will be able to testify to them that it is true.

In companionship exchanges I worked in Puchun, and then here. There with Elder Perez and here with Elder Stringham. It was pretty good. The two days were very productive.
Hey, guess what? I know no one’s gunna [going to] believe it, but in our branch, there was a baptism!!!!!!!!!! We have been teaching a small family who live upp upp upp in a place called Paradise. The mom and son we have been teaching. The mom is a member and the son got baptized Saturday! He asked me to baptize him. It was great. Only the water was SOO cold. It might as well have come out of the faucet as ice cubes, and Joel (the son) was terrified of water in the first place, but it was all fine. Our branch mission leader directed the service, the family of Joel was there, quite a few of the young adults were there too, us, and the branch president, and an investigator came with his two teens.

A missionary returned to the branch from his mission in Lima North. Two more talked since they are about to leave tomorrow and in a few weeks. Freaked me out a little since I feel like a month ago I had to talk in our ward.. but I’m more than halfway to returning.

We passed one family Thursday who were taking big wood boards into the house that they use to make the concrete roofs. We offered to help them and they were grateful since there are many, and later we taught all 6 [in the family]. They seem like a great family and I hope we can continue to teach them! In all there are something like 8 people who live there.

I am going to have to get the pictures through the next Monday. And bueno. Las cosas estan bien. [And well, things are well.] I was thinking about how life is often difficult, and reading about Alma teaching the purpose of life in the Book of Mormon and between the chapters 34 and 42 came to understand better that we had to come here, so that we could have the experience of repenting and choosing the good. This is part of the goal, so it was absolutely necessary that Adam and Eve fell since we all needed to go through the process of repentance in order to progress in the grand scheme of things. I dunno [don’t know] exactly how to describe it but a few things just made sense better than before.

Haha this Sunday we tried something. We put the hymn CDs on high volume so that all could sing along Sunday. There is no piano or organ or someone who could play the electric piano, so we put on the CD and it worked GREAT! Definitely were gunna  [going to] continue. I think I’m going to be the new music conductor since the current is going on the mission tomorrow.

Love Elder Johnson

Monday, October 3, 2011

3 October 2011

Climbing a mountain near Camana on P-day

Some kind of fruit cooked in banana leaves

Is that the chicken for dinner in a few minutes?

A Peruvian woman's kitchen
Dear Family!
AAAHHHHH CONFERENCE! I love conference and am thinking about buying all the conference DVDs when I get back, but that’s beside the point. This conference was so great. One of my favorite talks was the one of the Book of Mormon !¡(all sorts of Book of Mormon references in the morning of Sunday, no?). I have a goal to finish El Libro De Mormon for the fourth time in the mission next week, and read it more in this my second half [of the mission]. It really is so good. I finally fixed my spanish triple combination so I can read it now. It broke right after I got to the field. Remember I asked for suggestions? A book repairer put rubber cement on it for 2 soles... haha. At least I think it’s rubber cement.
As always after the tenth hour of conference we were pretty amazed and all and a little sad it will be 6 more months till the next. Seeing Elder Oaks I thought: “Hey, I shook his hand a month ago!”
I also really liked the Young Women’s President’s talk [Sister Elaine Dalton]... I think that would be so great if it can be fully implemented this half year, and we might be teaching some of those things (and not just to fathers of daughters). I was just so happy to hear the choirs and hear the prophets. I learned a lot about how to come closer to Christ. Something I will be working on a lot right now.
I don’t remember if I said it last week, but what I would like most is an SD card to USB converter, something cheapisimo but that I can use to be self-reliant for Christmas.
Eric, how’s spanish class?? When I get back we are going to be able to speak so well! And talk about Paul without his knowing haha. But not really. Practica con la mama le va a ayudar muchisimo! Una semana yo hacia practica con mama y fue lo maximo! [Practice with mom.  It will help you so much.  One week, I practiced with mom and it was best!]
Y’all asked about my health. I am very high of health. I feel very blessed by the promises I have made and trying to keep them dutifully.
I found out the name of those so amazing socks I talked about: they are called Goldtoe.
I’m gunna [going to] email the church today, there is a translation error in Preach My Gospel! Almost sure they know but just in case. Page 169 says lea instead of le in the second paragraph (of course in the spanish version)
So this week we were in reunions [meetings] all the time. We went to a last minute multizone meeting, which was soo, sooo, soo amazing. The president really is incredibly spiritual. He called us hard to repentance telling us: There are some things that you do that are not ok, for example....... . Then, we talked about understanding that we have been called by prophecy to be representatives of Jesus Christ, and given the authority to do so. We talked about how the mission was worth whatever the cost, and heard from four missionaries who are doing miracles in their areas. They are in the same branch, and last month this branch had almost 30 baptisms, with 40 scheduled for October. Hearing them was a wake up call and extremely amazing. We also talked about how that ultimate and supreme teacher is the spirit, and that teaching is more than just talking and telling things, which we also heard in conference from the Sunday School Counselor in his great talk. And basically it was so, so good. The president knows how to tell us what we need to change very, very directly and with love so we really get we need to change it.
Elder Holland’s talk was pretty intense, no? I hope the Young Men’s leaders do some follow up on that. "just enough to singe ya" haha. Somehow, we need all the young men to understand the Aaronic Priesthood. Why didn’t we collect fast offerings? Can we? That talk was a great basis for Branch Presidents and Bishops to work off of.
Well that’s all the extended time I’ve got.
Elder Johnson