Monday, November 21, 2011

The Cockroach Story from Elder Ortiz

Mi querida y amada familia, [My dear and beloved family],
[This letter is a translation from Mark's current companion, Elder Ortiz.  The spanish text is at the end of this entry in case you want to read the original]
This past week in the mission, I learned many things about Faith and I am working hard to implement them in my life.  I want to tell you that I love you and I’m telling you, it is SO hot here.  The sun is so strong!  Fortunately, I have sun block at a Gringo gave me.
Because of the heat, it is normal to see cockroaches.  A few days ago, Elder Johnson and I burned some.  I really don’t like them.  I had my AXE (an aerosol) and some matches, and well, you can imagine.  But the funniest thing was yesterday with a cockroach.  
But before I share the story, I want to tell you that yesterday, we were in the street, and all of a sudden, we passed by a house where they were having a wake (or mourning the death of someone).  I said to my companion, let’s go in and teach.  It was a bit difficult, but finally, we taught about 27 people about life after death.  It was a very good experience and of course, we challenged them to get baptized.
Now, the funniest thing was when we were in our room while we planned and I was sitting with my legs crossed.  My companion said, “THERE’S A COCKROACH!!!!” I tried to hit him with a big jump and well, we wanted to catch him, but we lost it and we didn’t think much of it.  But after a little while, my companion (Mark) was sitting the same way and he said, “I FELT IT, I FELT IT!!!”  We were both looking everywhere and we said, “Where is it?”  We couldn’t see it anyway and we thought it had gone again.  After a few seconds, Johnson began to yell, “NOOOO!! It’s in my pants, and it’s going up!!!  AHHH!”  He stood up and started jumping around, shaking his pants.  We were dying of laughter.  Ha Ha Ha!

From Elder Ortiz

esta semana que ha pasado en la mision fue lo maximo he aprendido muchas pero muchas cosas de la Fe y bueno estoy en la tarea de implementarlas en mi vida, quiero decirles que los Amo, les cuento que acà esta haciendo un calor terrible y bueno el sol es bien pero bien fuerte, afortunadamente tengo bloqueador que me regalo un Gringo jejejeje.

Les cuendo que del calor que esta haciendo es normal ver cucarachas por hay, y bueno hace unos dias incineramos algunas con Elder Johnson, es que no me gustan y bueno solo vi que tenia mi AXE y unos fosforos y bueno se imaginaran. pèro lo mas chistoso paso ayer con una cucaracha, pero antes de contarles le cuento que ayer estabamos en la calle y depronto pasamos por una casa donde estaban velando a una persona y le dije a mi compañero que nos metieramos a enseñar, fue un poco dificil pero al final les enseñanos de la vida despues de la muerte como a 27 personas, fue una experiencia muy buena y por supuiesto los desafiamos a bautizarce; ahora si lo mas chistoso es que cuando estabamos en el cuarto mientras planificabamos senti en mi pie como cosquillas y mi compañero dijo, HUY UNA CUCARACHAAAAAAA!!! y yo pegue tremendo salto, y bueno la queriamos agarrar pero se perdio y ajj bueno no le dimos mucha importancia, pero despues de un rato mi compañero sintio lo mismo en el pie y dijo. HAY LA SENTI LA SENTI, y los dos mirando por todos lados y dijimos, ¿en donde esta? no la veiamos por ningun lado y bueno pensamos que se habia ido, pero despues de unos cuantos segundo Johnso comenzo a gritar diciendo NOO ESTA EN MI PANTALON AHHHH ESTA SUBIENDO AHHHHH se paro y comenzo a saltar sacudiendose la pierna fue un mate de risa total jajajajaja.

21 November 2011

Les mando un foto de la ultima semana que me olvidè enviar Lo siento! [I am sending you the photo from last week that I forgot to sent.  I’m sorry!]

Family Como [How] are you all?

Paul, send me some pictures of your crew time for my companion! He wants to know how it is.

My companion said one day as he was talking with a person who said that the church was fine with prophets, revelation, the Book of Mormon and all, but that it can’t be true because when we receive the spirit, we can talk in tongues. My companion asked him if he could, and the guy said of course!, Elder Ortiz asked him which, and he responded something to the effect of, “mmm... I dunno but I talk some language. Bueno [Well]... there is only to read Acts 2 [referring to the Day of Pentacost and the speaking in tongues which allowed each person to hear the message in their own language and understand it.].

This week.... this week I think will possibly mark a turning point in the life of this youngster that I am. Let’s see if I can relate a few things that suceded [happened].

So great, we started the week and we did a companion interchange with Elder McNeil and Elder Ramires again. I was with Elder Ramires this time and it was great. I got to interview two people for baptism and they both expressed their testimonies. They are preparing to have 3 baptisms this weekend. In all in the district, there are 6 baptisms on Saturday! We are going to work so hard so that it happens. The other district unfortunately has none for now.

In a Dear Elder letter someone mentioned the daylight savings time. That doesn’t exist here, and it’s pretty weird, but cool. It pretty much just changes from nice weather, to really, really hot weather. And that’s spring. There aren’t really flowers or yellow trees in fall. But oh well. The sun is bright and our faith is increasing.

I read a little of Genesis, and learned that we should not kill animals unless we need to eat them, and that animals are there for the need to eat as are plants. I was meditating on the Word of Wisdom recently.. in the meat part. I will seek understanding today.

Also in the Bible we learned that those who are ordained to the priesthood like Melchezidek come into a powerful relation with Dios [God] by faith. I was thinking a little about the Gifts of God that we should seek like Moroni 10:30 says and about perfecting ourselves as it says in Moroni 10:34 and inviting all to meditate these things. Especially Paul [I imagine he’s talking about Paul, the apostle and referring to 1 Corinthians chapter 12 where we are instructed to seek the best gifts]. That relationship with God is the singular goal of my companion and I in this week.

I was thinking about the responsibilidades [responsibilities] that I answered a while ago and here is a better answer. A lider [leader] in the mission has these responsibilities.
  • Representan al presidente de mission al llevar a cabo los planes que el tiene para la mision [Represent the Mission President in implementing the plans he has for the mission]
  • transmiten la informacion y las directrices del presidente de mision de manera oportuna y clara [Pass along information and direction from the Mission President clearly and in a timely manner]
  • inspiran a otros a tener un espititu de amor, unidad, obediencia, y trabajor arduo [Inspire other to have a spirit of love, unity, obedience and hard work]
  • animan a los misioner a vivir un alto nivel de obediencia, especialmente mediante la aplicacion en su vida de los primerso principios del evangelio [Encourage the missionaries to live at a high level of obedience, espcially through applying the first principles of the gospel in their lives]
  • ayuden a los misioneros a ser poderosos y fructiferos en cada fase de la obra misional, incluso en encontrar y enseñar a investigadores, asi como a trabajar con los misioneros. [Help the missionaries to be powerful and fruitful in every phase of missionary work including finding and teaching investigators, as well as working with the missionaries]
  • Enseñan a otros misioneros en el estudio entre compañeros, en intercambios, en reunuoines de distrito y en otros marcos de enseñanza [Teach other missionaries about companionship study, exchanges, district meetings, and other teaching opportunities]
  • Analizan el progreso de los investigadores [Analyze the progress of the investigators]
  • compartir informacion con el presidente de mision de (una lista de cosas que no me da ganas de trascribir) [Share information with the Mission President--and there’s a whole list a things that I don’t feel like writing here]
  • Corrigen la conducta de los misioneros cuando sea necesario (vease dyc 121:41-44) [Correct the conduct of the missionaries when it is necessary--he refers to D&C 121:41-44 which teaches us to make corrections right away for the person we are responsible for and then show an increased amount of love toward the other person]
Sorry it’s in spanish but it’s a little hard for me to translate into English and I’d rather write than translate right now.

So now, after that companion interchange [exchange] so cool, we got back to the room and the next day we went up to a special meeting with the President the next day. He taught us so much. We were in the church between 7:40 in the morning and 6:30 in the night. But wow was it so awesome. We talked about faith for a few hours. we all realized we know about nothing, but if we start to work with real faith, all the things the Lord wants will be made possible unto us. If I can do it, I will be able to make a huge effect in all the others, like the effect the President has every time we talk with him. He is a person who has obtained many spiritual gifts and for something was called to direct us.

So in that reunion [meeting], he told us about his mission, his vision for our mission, and so much more. He has been asked 2 times more from the area presidency, and meditating in this, saw that we can preach at the level of 600 per month. 6 per companionship per month. We all need to change so much to be able to [do that] and he is dedicated to work really really hard to help us change ourselves. This meeting definitely helped us a lot. My companion and I felt that personally if we work with perfect faith these weeks, we will baptize 25 December [I’m not sure if he meant they’ll baptize 25 people in December or if he meant they’ll baptize 6 on the 25th of December] and I am so completely dedicated to do so.

It takes expelling the natural Elder Johnson and becoming an Elder Johnson who can walk with the Lord. Part is being more bold. On the bus the other day we asked the driver to put on The Restoration! He did! and we taught a few people on the bus about the message of the restoration. We passed a funeral yesterday and got permission to address a few words to all. We taught about the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Christ, and invited all to pray to know if what we had taught was true, and consult with God if they should prepare to be baptized by the restored authority of God to prepare now to have an eternal family forever.
In another companion interchange [exchange] we contacted everybody, testifying like crazies and found some people who told us how they really want to change their life. We are understanding better our purpose and the Doctrine of Christ in these days. We are working together to walk with the Lord and purifying ourselves of all ungodliness that could make us unworthy of His company.

Love Elder Johnson.

Monday, November 14, 2011

14 November 2011

Dear Family,
14 November 2011
I did get shoes from Tacna.  But what would be GREAT would be some Doctor Scholes gellin inserts. Elder Davey from the zone is currently gelling and when I put those shoes on, I am not gelling. They hurt mas bien [quite a bit] after a few hours walking, but nothing I can’t handle until Christmas. I also obtained glue to keep re-gluing the rubber they put on my soles every time they come off-- as a temporary thing.

That’s pretty awesome about Hamid [a young convert in the Arlington 1st Ward who is serving a mission in the Denver Colorado North mission]. I don’t know who he is... but yea! The mission will be the best for him.

Thanks in advance for the packages!!!!!!!!!!

Finishing this week we feel pretty good! We upped the record of church assistance [meaning, attendance at church meetings by converts] from the past few weeks. In the morning of Sunday we did splits with President Vilca (I’m not exactly sure if the first counselor of the Elders Quorum is called president too... si no?) and with Yimmy, our neighbor.

I went with Yimmy and after making some calls we ran up the mountain to Paraiso working up a nice little sweatcito [this made me laugh---”ito” is added to the end of the word to mean “a little”]. We got up there and a friend of Joel, the kid who was baptized in the second week of October was waiting for us outside his house with collectivo [taxi] fare ready. We looked for Nelly and her daughter, but they weren’t there (She called us at lunch time to say sorry, which is WAY AWESOME) and then went to Ruth Chuima, who said she couldn’t come. But I did not want to take no for an answer. After trying to see if there was something I could do so she could go, like wash the clothes, she said the kids would have to change and so much stuff, so I asked where they were and went off running to call them back and to animate them [get them excited] to go to church. When they came back we were almost all ready but something happened and anyway Sister Chuima couldn’t.... so worried we went a little down the mountain with Joel, his friend Omar, and his mom Sujei. We passed Davíd Molina who had gone to a neighbor to invitar  [invite] her. Yimmy and I talked a little bit with her and we took out an appointment to come back.  She seems pretty great, and now late [for the meeting], we sprinted down the east face to get in a collectivo [a little taxi] and make it to the chapel and finish the splits.In the meeting Brother Chamana (someone for whom Elder Ortiz went) with his two kids came.  Ruth Chuima actually DID show up with her two kids, and we were already there with Omar!  Pretty awesome.

That was my Sunday morning. I wish every member could take at least one friend to church. I’ve heard they do that in Colombia in some wards, and the people in the Sacrament Meeting are about half members with mountains of baptisms every week.

This week we went to the Zone Leaders Council, which was AWESOME. I learned a ton. We worked out a bunch of issues in the mission. The president taught us about the Doctrine of Christ in a way that kind of blew my mind and we learned a bunch from Sister Fernandez including some things that will help the mission be able to have powerful companionship relationships, something that I have recently realized is very, very important. Elder Stewart and I were almost there with the powerful relationship thing, and se notaba [and you could notice it].

The President talked about the Doctrine of Christ, and the order of the Church of Christ. He talked about the significance and importance of ordinances. And how of course and ordinance has to be [done] Christ’s way.  And how when people tell us that they could be baptized, but don’t really want to change religion it’s because we didn’t really teach the thing well enough. We aren’t talking about a change of religion, we are talking about a change of heart. The humility to live our life in the Lord’s way and be on His errand. It was awesome.

I think one problem we are having is that we assume that people know what baptism is.

Anyway, we are going to have a great next week! nd we are going to work soo sooo hard with the zone.

Love Elder Johnson.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

9 November 2011

One of those great bananas!

Sunrise in Camana!

Dear family,
Pero bueno nuestras responsibilidades son llevar a cabo una capacitacion cada martes y jueves, pero muy breve, de repartir la informacion que el presidente nos da en los consejos de zona que tenemos ahorita, o mejor dicho mañana (estoy in Arequipa oltra vez), de hacer entrevistas baustimal para los investigadores de los lideres de distrito, hacer intercambios de compañeros con los lideres de distrito y oltros missioneros, ver que todos esten bien espiritual, y temporalmente. Manejamos los financas de la zona que tiene que ver con todos estos arreglos Ver que sus cuartos esten bien, que tengan agua purificada, que bueno.. que todo les va bien. Tambien manejamos todo el correro de caracól de la zona, los registros de baustimos y todo esto.. y bueno casi todo. Creo que al poner esta lista, debemos hacer que los Lideres de Distrito hagan un poco mas.
[Well, our responsibilities (as zone leaders) are to carry out training every Tuesday and Thursday.  In short, we deliver information that the President gives us in Zone Council that we have now, or rather, tomorrow. (I am in Arequipa again).  We do baptismal interviews for the District Leader’s investigators.  We do companionship exchanges with the district leaders and other missionaries.  We oversee that all are doing well spiritually and temporally.   We manage the Zone’s finances and see that it is all well and in order.  We make sure the apartments are in good shape, that the missionaries have purified water, and well, that everything is good.  We also manage the zone mail, baptismal registrations and that’s aboutit.  After writing out this list, it makes me realize that we should have the District Leaders doing a little more.]
My companion is laughing himself so much right now because of a joke he told: "Q: Which is the dumbest pokemon? A: Pikachu, because he always says "pica pica" but he never itches himself! Juajajaja" -- "me pica" in spanish means that "it itches me"
This week has been so interesting. We have started to look for members. Like I commented the last week, there are tons of the lost battalion whom we have never even seen. It was way cool to talk to a bunch and hear their desires to come back, the interesting questions that a few had, the confusion that some have had by receiving all the other church´s missionaries and at the same time not going to church. Substitute teaching the Sunday School class, a member asked us a question about something some others had taught her in her home about Revelations 2:17. She asked what it means. I thought that was a very interesting question. We decided to invite her to approach us after, but as she didn’t, that’s fine by me.
We met a man this week who told us "YO SE QUE DIOS CONTESTA LA ORACION" fue muy bien. La unica problema que anticipamos es [“I KNOW THAT GOD ANSWERS PRAYER” was very good.  The only problem that we anticipate is. . .] that he has read almost all the Book of Mormon.... Well not really problem, but he has the doubt that not all is true, after reading so much, makes me wonder about the intention. But I hope he can ask God about it. He’s 78 and a very dear old man.
The boy who was baptized a while ago is doing well, his mom has reactivated and is President of the Primary. She is seeing that the Lord is blessing her and her family. The responsibilidad [responsibility] she has been given has helped a ton. In calling her, our Branch President followed the counsel of the 12 from a conference of Peru that we had. The member of the twelve (creo que fue [I believe it was] Elder Christoferson) said that we might think it will be a risk in calling a new member or a recently reactivated person, but think about the risk the Lord took in calling YOU. Haha it was very effective. 
My study in this week has been more focused on the needs of the people we are going to teach. I have felt my love for the people I plan for better, and study for, increase. And that has been something that has made the work a lot more enjoyable. I’m not working for me as much as for them.
Elder Ortiz and I are very, very different. It has been interesting in these months trying to make an equilibrium. I really believe he has been sent to me as the companion that the Lord wants me to have. We are so opposite though. We have all the qualities that the other has less of, and even though at first this just made us frustrated one with another--since we weren’t looking to change ourselves but the other--- we are beginning to learn how to absorb [the good qualities of the other] and become better. I am trying hard to be what He wants me to be, and he is trying hard too. It’s not easy but we are determined. Last night, while we reviewed the week and the work we had done, we were talking about how much progress we have made. It really has been so much. I have hope of being able to be perfected in Christ someday. 
Something that was taught to us was that the faith and the lasting strength comes from hearing the word of God like it says in Romans 10:17. This means that if we immerse ourselves in the word, we will be able to edify our rock on the Savior and never will the storms of anyone be able to mess us up. So we need to study study and hear and do all to immerse ourselves. I feel like the change in myself that I have seen until now, has been largely because of the study of the scriptures.
So study family! Together a little every morning and together to immerse yourselves in the word of God and never stray even a little bit!
Love Elder Johnson