Monday, January 30, 2012

30 January 2012

Dear Family,
30 January 2012
This week I don’t have hardly any time since we are going to el centro (central park in the city) to play football wit the president at 1 p.m.. 
But we learned a bunch this week. The whole zone has gone two weeks increasing the indicators! The graphs that the assistants send us are really cool looking since the first week they doubled and the second they kept going up in every single category: baptisms, news, con fechas bautismal (people with baptismal dates), reunion sacramental (sacrament meeting attendance), contacts. That makes me happy.
We talked with 22 new people this week... and one awesome lady came to church. This is her story.
Last sunday she went to the hospital to check up on her baby since she is 8.5 months pregnant. She there met some members who gave her a pamphlet and [she] started reading it. Justamente [coincidentally] a few days later, we knocked her door and found her with some of the people in her family. She had been reading about the Restoration and when we taught it she said that she wanted to be baptized and go to church and everything. We visited them a few times more before Sunday and she was ready at 7:30 to go to church for 8 am. We got there and she enjoyed so much singing, listening, reading the Book of Mormon (before Sunday she read all the introduccion [introduction] and testimonies and 1 Nephi 1 two times each one to understand well).
In church she asked us if the water is going to be cold of warm for her baptism too. The Relief Society president got on the ball and talked with her and wrote down her number and planned helping her out with the baby that’s coming this week and planned with the sisters to visit her this week. We´re just a little worried about her baby who is going to be born and when she is going to be able to go to church next.
Anyway I really have to run.
Mentiones [things to remember]:
How has living the law of tithing blessed the family?
I heard that one lady didn’t want to come to church because she feared that the gringos were going to steal her kidneys and fat since she is Peruvian?????
I asked someone who is Christ for him, dijo: "es Dios pe" haha, that’s a peruvianism
[the editor doesn’t get this one. . . can anyone else help?]
"moises abriío el ro marjo" --. elder stewart
[This one is just a transposition of letters.  He should have said el mar rojo, which is to say, the Red Sea. Instead, he said “Moses opened up the Sed Rea.”]
"cual es su nombre?" -- "mi nombre de mi?"
[“What is your name?”===”My name of me?”]
[I don’t know. . . I guess Mark found it funny.]
Love Elder Johnson

Sunday, January 29, 2012

23 January 2012

Queridisima Familia [My Dearest family] 
Mom, did I send you a birthday letter???? If not I'm sending one today anyway just in case.
Howd the week go? Here in Hunter it went great! Camana was so so hot that I got used to sweating all day but here it's cold, due to the altitude difference. The volcanos here are called Misty, Chichani and Pichu Pichu.  They are covered with snow high above the city of Arequipa.
We've been working as well as we could, and since I don't really know all the area yet, in the two divisiones of the week I went to Palacio y Congata. It was realy interesting. In Palacio with Elder Knighton (from Tuilla, Utah) we had a great time and taught a man who had desires to return to God. We explained the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and he was captivated. He said I am definitely going to church. He asked a bunch of very good questions and mentioned that he felt that we had a gift of teaching, that God had prepared him for our visit. On the same line, teaching in Congata with Elder Cevallos una persona [one person] told us, after teaching of the profets and dispencasiones [prophets and dispensations], that we seemed like Moises [Moses] to her in our manner of teaching and inviting. That was interesting. I was thinking this morning and I was looking at all I have to get better at and I think really it's the relation with the invesitagadores [investigators]. We need to help them better expertimentar the conversion [try to become converted].
Yesterday was a little bit interesting. We went to the two wards that we are part of: Hunter ward and Berlin ward. I got to know some of the members and they seem really great and happy. I was pretty suprised at how well they sing in the Hunter Ward. In the second hour of Berlin, I started feeling really sick. At the end of the class I signed, unable to talk to Elder Stewart that we had to go to the room (we live a half block from the church). I didn't quite make it and saw breakfast again in the way. Haha. So I rested a bit during the third hour and we returned so we could walk an investigator back to his house as we had promised. When we got there I was feeling so bad that I was not going to be able to walk back to our house. I asked Elder Stewart to give me a blessing in his house. While he talked, I felt better and better and by the time he finished, I felt just fine. We walked quickly to the house about a kilometro from the investigator to lunch.
Other parts of this were with some members Monday who were all happy to have us there and to dedicate their new house. I also recently have been up to Exodus and am reading in where Moises [Moses] does some pretty awesome intense stuff.. in Egypt. It's even better than seeing "The Prince of Egypt." This morning I read about Ammón and the intense joy that he felt. It was explained that that level of joy so great is only had by those who truely repent and humbly look for the lasting happiness that comes from following all the guides of the Lord: His commandments, His servants, the dictates of the Holy Ghost. I reflected and pondered on that verse this morning.
Love Elder Johnson
 [This is in response to our thoughts on picking Mark up at the end of his mission----we've decided not to pick him up]
On the four options, wow those are some pretty tight time restrictions. You all haven't really decided on picking me up? I don't feel that I should extend. I think whichever plan would work. If you all judge it possible the first, the fine [the last one], if not, the second or third segue ustedes [whichever you prefer].

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

16 January 2012

Third time is a charm!  Mark with Elder Stewart in Hunter Area of Arequipa

This mouse is for Paul!

Dear to the family,
You shall never guess where I am and who I'm with.
This last week, I finished a week and a half companionship with Elder Rojas. It was really awesome. He is a pretty cool guy. He is from Lima, the capital of Peru. Before the mission he was a member 4 years and was baptized in 1 week [after meeting the missionaries], more or less. His parents were baptized a few years before and brothers and sisters too, but in one week he realized he knew the church was true. His dad was converted first. Elder Rojas is a great missioanry. He, before the mission danced traditional Peruvian dances of all types. I saw some cool pictures of his dance groups.
Anyway in the night last night the asistants called us and told me (as the president had told me a week and a half ago) that I was going [to be transferred]. They surprised me: Hunter stake, Berlin ward. It is the same stake I started in. And my companion, is ELDER STEWART! Hahaha I was excited to hear that even though I was pretty incredulous that it was the same Elder Stewart, since we've been companions 2 times before: in the MTC in Peru, in Tacna, and now. It's gunna be awesome. I was a little sad when I heard he was going to leave Tacna.
In the route here, getting off the bus, three kids shouted "Elder!! Elder!!" from a bus that was headed to Lima. Haha I felt weird being recognized out in the open without a companion, but they were so happy it made me laugh. It's gunna be weird not having a companion when that happens. (I really, really want to extend. but I shouldn't. So I am going to not extend, sometiendo la voluntad del hijo a la voluntad del padre.) 
On the bus ride here there was a really gross movie on and after talking a while with the person on my side, I was trying to not listen.... There is so much bad in the world. I was reflecting in the system of movie rating that is used in the states (there isn't really anything used here). G means even kids can go. PG-13 means it's recommended that people < 13 don't watch it. R is restricted to > 18. The scriptures say that we must make ourselves as little children to enter the kingdom of God. In the MTC I decided for that reason to not listen to music that wouldn't be appropriate for a 3 year old or see movies of the same. Was it Grandpa Johnson that said "I'm not old enough to go to that movie"? I want to be little child, not a child of mode of thinking, but without malice, but mature in mode of thinking as says Paul.
Last Sunday I had a talk. I talked about the missionary work and how to love it. I'm definitely not the best example but I have been trying to follow the admonition of Mormon, praying to receive the pure love of Christ. Saturday night we found some abuelitos [grandparents] and teaching them I testified about the Book of Mormon. The grandpa said with much interest: "How much does that book cost? We want to read it!" Haha talking with them I felt a large love for them and when we got back to the room, I told Elder Rojas. "Hey,  those grandpas... I love them and I can't figure out how but I do." I shared that experience in my talk. I was also thinking about how much I love the Cabrera family. I went in divisiones in the morning of my last Sunday there and went to go to church with them. They were getting ready and for the first time his wife came too!!!!!!! While we waited a few minutes Brother Cabrera came out and said in an excited whisper: "We're getting married! So I told them [let me know when you get baptized."-----this sentence wasn't completed, but that is the editor's guess on the ending.]
So starting off the round 3 with Elder Stewart we are going to work so hard. It's going to be intense. We are animated [excited] to work super, super hard and we have been talking about what we did good when we were together. That's what we want to do but 5 times better now. I think we can. I think we can. I think we can. Haha no.  I know we can. I'm about fried on the thank you letters. Today I won't be able to either for the changes. I was in before and l almost sent this whole letter, but the internet died. Luckly the church's mail service is by google, and since google is smart, it saves automatically every few minutes for those who arent' so smart.
 I sent a picture of Elder Stewart and I and the cool mouse that this computer has that Paul will appreciate especially.
 So yes. We had Aji de Gallina for lunch. It's a type of curry almost... with stringed chicken inside and two matagringos on top. A matagringo is a type of olive that's super bitter, purple, and gross. Haha but I ate it. You gotta eat it. I always eat what I don't like first. So that in the course of the meal I can be saved from the bitter bitter taste. There is about one gringo in the mission who likes matagringos. The correct name is aceituna.

I got to know the missionaries from the Hunter Zone today. They seem pretty awesome. I also got to see Elder Ulmer, one of our ex assistents in the mail post of Arequipa as we went to see if we could take out the packages of Elder Stewart. On the way we had to pass through the plaza and I got to see it for the first time in more than a year. Just passing but it was very pretty. Everything is very different than Camana. A lot more money here. BMW. Audi. I even saw a Z4.
Well I just wanted to add that. Next week with some pictures of the area. We live in a room on the property of the stake president. He seems pretty awesome. In the bus today I met someone again who is from the Augusto Freyre ward that I was in last year. I had taught her husband and she wants me to come back. She said I was the only one her husband ever agreed to be baptized with but that after I got transfered to Tacna for some reason he wasn't baptized. It was so weird to feel back in the same. We got on the same bus. My area now is about 5 miles from Augusto Freyre.. or less... on the way to and from city center.
MUCHO love
Elder Johnson

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

9 January 2012

Beautiful Peruvian sky

Mark, January 2012 (17 months into his mission)
Querido Familia.
How did the week go? I had a great week here with the Elder Rojas. He is from Lima and is very good. He’s got the same time in the mission as I do and comes from the Mollendo Zone (pronounced moyendo more or less I think.. it’s hard for me to write how it sounds in English... I think if I read a word in I don’t know I would read it with a spanish accent yes or yes).
This week we have been trying and trying to do the good. We couldn’t work Monday or Tuesday and started Wednesday. But even asi (with that) we passed the last week. We ALSO had to do two interchanges of companions... so basically I was with Elder Rojas Wednesday, y (and) Sunday and a little of Saturday.
Last night we taught a family who was pretty awesome.
The family Chamana is progressing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We talked with them with Elder Garcia in intercambios (exchanges with another companion) and taught about eternal marriage and civil marriage. The dad was alone that day and at the beginning was ok with the idea of getting married, but at the end he was so animated (excited) to be able to go get married next week!! So we left him to go to another cita (appointment) and we challenged him to ask the hand of his girlfriend to be wife. His children were so happy that they will be getting married.
When we came the next time the to-be wife was there and we got to teaching, she expressed a lot of doubt and the feeling that she couldn’t leave the traditiones (traditions) of her parents. We taught her the doctrine of eternal marriage. She said the same that her to-be husband had said last week that she didn’t want to submit herself to the law of man, just God, so she was going to get married by the power of God. We explained about the sacred nature of the marriage covenant and how we have to be spiritually ready and how Civil marriage is a blessing that allows her family to stay together in the preparation for a temple marriage. To be able to complete the Law of Chastity starting now to be ready by February 2013 for the temple. They at the end were able to be happy and wanting to get ready. Another one of their doubts was that there is ONE church on the Earth with the authority of God to perform ordinances and not all of them (all of the churches). I understood why she thought that that would be a problem. It’s because the world is imagining a God who doesn’t exercise mercy on those who come unto Him in faith. We explained the temple and how in addition to ordinances for the living, there those who have deceased can be sealed to their families in the heavens, because that is the mercy of God with His children. We explained the other part of her doubt, that children who haven’t been baptized or are baptized from a baptism other than that of Christ (like hers) aren’t lost, but of them is the kingdom of God. In that moment she realized that all of her doubts are coming form false doctrines and teachings of the "world" but really from any who isn’t the Church of Jesus Christ. She understood that God is merciful and loving and was relieved.
Here in Peru, to get married you need your birth certificate. But nobody ever has it and if they are from far away, they have to go to their home town to  get a certified copy. We were worried that that would delay their marriage but SHE HAS A COPY! I have never heard of that happening. Her to-be husband is from Camana so that’s easy. 
Also in church yesterday, something awesome happened. The Quorum of Elders teacher was sharing the 11 personal creeds that George Albert Smith gave himself when he had 34 years (they are so awesome). One was that he would help all know the truth. The teacher asked what it meant and Brother Cabrera (the investigator.. the only Brother Cabrera I know...just so y’all know) gave the answer: We have to help all know know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Jesus Christ is the Lord. I wrote that down to remember it. He had brought his brother to church too to be able to present (introduce) his brother to us.
In the zone leader conference the President talked about DyC 4 and asked if this is a missionary scripture. We all said yes and he said: “No.” Haha. It was given to the patriarch of the Church, the father of Joseph Smith in this time. But it applies to all, and especially ward council and priesthood excecutive committee and mission coordination. That we need to work with all! Then he mentioned a scripture for young missionaries and said DyC 11 and I officially recommend it to Paul so that he can study it good this week. It’s really, really good, and it guilt- tripped me a little for not having studied it before coming.... so Paul, read it so you can avoid guiltation (where did this word come from?) like me. haha. But really, study and understand it. You will be called to preach the gospel with power and authority. That doesn’t just come. You have to make yourself ready to preach in that way. And it doesn’t just come by going to the MTC. It has to come from YOU and you should know the word before going. Like it says in DyC 11. Asi que, lealo! (So, read it!)
Tomorrow we’ve got family home evening with the Cabrera family.
Today I was reading in Corinthians and it was AWESOME. This Paul guy was such a man. I want to be like him. I like how he expresses the truths, I like 1 Corinthians 12 28 a lot and 1 Cor 14 is illuminating.
Love Elder Johnson

Monday, January 2, 2012

2 January 2012

Mark is the Zone Leader of this group.  This picture was taken just before Elder Ortiz left to go home.

Hermano Huillca, Mark's temporary companion 

Queridisimo familia,
2 January 2012
How good. This week has been so interesting. I bet you would like to know how is my new compañion and all, but I don’t have one! Haha. Well.. I do, more or less. I’m sending a picture of Hermano Huillca who was with me for a few of the days. Other members the other days. A few nights the son of our pensioner stayed over. He is a recently returned missionary and it was pretty interesting. My Branch missonary leader also was with me a day. He also just got back a year ago and it was really interesting for him. He introduced himself as Elder Huaman one time. Haha. So I taught 18 lessons with members present.. Unfortunately if the member is your companion it doesn’t count.
There is also a picture of the Zone just before Elder Ortiz left me.
This week was fun. I learned a bunch. Especially I liked the progress I made in teaching by the Spirit. I taught an almost pastor (he took all the years of the required study apart from about 1 or 2) of the Catholic church and when he read the introduction of the Book of Mormon, he was so surprised when he read that it’s a sacred book and contains the fulness of the Gospel (in English it says: as does the bible, in spanish, it doesn’t... interesting, Here, there are about 20 different translations of the Bible, maybe that’s why? Some say that if we don’t keep Saturday holy we will die.. I’m thinking that’s probably why) So he read that and said, “Wow that’s really bold.” And I said, “Of course that’s bold. Christ is bold. Paul was bold. The truth is bold. I really liked what happened in that lesson. It was the second time this week that someone who has read the Bible a TON felt that what we were teaching was true.
The other was when a lady decided to not accept a pass along card of the Book of Mormon.. and decided to teach me why everything I know is wrong... Anyway I felt a little nervous at the start... since I know she’s read the Holy Scriptures about a hundred times more than me, realistically I have been learning about it a bit more than a year, no? So I felt that way, but I realized as she rambled, that that’s a sin. I have to have faith... and to be nervous is to let fear in, and that is to not trust in God. El amor perfecta desecha todo temor [Love casts out all fear]. I prayed and asked for forgiveness and power was given to me. I was able to have love for her, understand her mind, teach her the doctrine, and the scriptures she opened were taught to her and me by the spirit. It was a great experience.
Teaching the family Cabrera, who are AWESOME but couldn’t go to church since their cousins from 5 years that they haven’t seen came and [they felt] obligated to visit them all day. We were sitting there and I was explaining about what it says in Alma 33 and 34 about beginning to exercise faith. They started to feel the Spirit testify of all I said. Sister Cabrera has been very Catholic and until yesterday we haven’t really been able to mention why she needs to be baptized like Christ to enter in the kingdom of God, but teaching we did this:
  1. Pray to God with faith, in the name of Christ
  2. Read and study the Scriptures
  3. Listen from the testimony of those who know
  4. Repent
  5. Be Baptized
  6. Receive the Holy Ghost
When I said be baptised, I really just mentioned it, focusing more on the first 4 [steps], but I knew that she had a question by the expression that briefly passed her face. I asked her if she would like to make a question about what I had said, and she said no. So the gist of what I said was: “Well, I perceive that you have a question.  Ask and don’t worry.” 
So she said, “The whole baptism thing, why do I have to be baptized again, if I have already been baptized in the name of Christ?”
I opened the Scriptures and explained. We read 3 Nephi 11 and Mark 10:39, but it was explained more by the spirit, and I invited her to prepare herself to be baptized for the remission of her sins, and she, from the heart, said, “I will” ....  The only problem is that she is going to Tacna for a vacation (it’s summer here right now, remember?) I hope that doesn´t turn into a problem.
Hermano Huillca, last night, was looking at all you sent me and picking out candies and found the power raspberry [crystal lite] packets. Haha. He asked how to eat it and I explained really fast but was really busy so maybe not so good... He sat down, opened it, and thinking  they were pop rocks poured it bit by bit right into his mouth. I saw him struggling and suffering in the corner of my eye and, haha I saw that he was eating it just like that. Hahaha. So I taught him how to eat it and he got a bottle, filled halfway and finished the rest. I resumed filling out Teaching Records and in a second he asked me, “Does this blow up?”(speaking of the juice) 
I was confused so I said “No”... A moment more and he asked me if it would now, and I told him: I have no idea what you’re talking about. He opened the door and started shaking it and said: I put TWO inside, and I think its going to blow up. HAhahahahaha I just started laughing and laughing. I explained that the thing is not carbonated and even if we put all the packets in it wouldn’t blow up. It will just be really strong, but not as strong as when he poured it directly in his mouth. What a funny guy.
That’s time. Enjoy the week and study the scriptures diligently!! As a family every day!
Love Elder Johnson