Monday, March 26, 2012

26 March 2012

Dear Family,

This week was quite gratifying.

News point: our elders quorum president is called Erni. hahaha.

The Dear Elders I got were very fun to read! I was amazed by what Grandpa said about the studies about the Book of Mormon. Ancient drawings that detail Ether, the legends that remain of the visit of Christ here, and grammatical delicacies not possible to have been made without the inspiration of God.

I got one [DearElder] from Kirsten! That gives me her address again. I shall have to see what to do to finish a series of letters. I’m going particularly slow :( Trying to get it out.

We invited some 300 people to the conference. We are so excited about the coming conference that we are doing all possible to help other people get there. I wish I had words cutting and powerful, like a two bladed sword so all could realize what I'm talking about. One problem that limits the understanding of many is that there is another church that will have some sort of celebration for the "real birthday" of Christ, and they are working pretty hard as a congregation to invite all (the 5th of April....) and many confuse us with them when we invite them. They don't typically have a very happy conception of those misunderstandings. But it is good that their invitations will help some have more faith in Christ.

I was teaching the class of Gospel Principles yesterday in church and the topic that corresponded (I think) was The Priesthood. We had a good discussion and the sister Palomino, who is awesome, said the prayer and asked that the Lord bless us to be able to teach so that she could come to know better the true church. Towards the end she also asked about what are the organizations of the priesthood. That’s next week, but because of the general conference I’m not sure if we will be able to teach it (the bishop said we are going to skip that class), so we explained it yesterday with her question. We talked about the Aaronic Priesthood and Melchezidek Priesthood, about the responsibilities of each, about blessings and ordinances (which went along with the plan of this week) and she asked if she could share a story. Last week she came to church and asked for a blessing for her baby, who was super sick. After receiving the blessing for her baby, she had to go with a family member to get medicine and go to the hospital, but that the really high fever went down. When they got to the hospital they said that they would have to take out a blood sample from her baby to diagnose the problem, but when they did so, he was totally clean [healed]. She said that in that moment, she was so surprised and in awe, and said: "hay tanto poder en las bendiciones." [There is so much power in the (priesthood) blessings]. It was pretty awesome to be in the class at that moment. Santiago 5:14-15, DyC 84:20.
 14 Is any asick among you? let him call for the belders of the church; and let them cpray over him, danointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
 15 And the aprayer of bfaith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be cforgiven him.  (James 5:14-15)
Michael Huamani, we visited and his grandpa came in. His grandpa is the source of the problems. I’ve been reading the Old Testament about the blessings of the Lord for the obedient, and the Book of Mormon, which makes the point clearer than the blue sky, and have been feeling how true it is. Anyway, he came and said he was baptized a 8 years ago. And said that when he did so, everything went wrong and he decided to go back to his old ways, and things were better. The old man didn’t realize, but we understood by the few clues that slipped out that he had ceased to keep the commandments. And then everything went wrong, and then he repented and stopped breaking so many commandments, but also left the church of the Lord. For not having success in his enterprises, he says the church isn’t true, and that his grandchild shouldn’t be baptized. He was also a little drunk at the time. It’s frustrating. The word and promise hasn’t changed Alma 36: 1-3 and so many other times in the Book of Mormon.

 1 My ason, give ear to my words; for I swear unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.
 2 I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in abondage, and none could bdeliver them except it was the cGod of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.
 3 And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their atrust in God shall be supported in their btrials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be clifted up at the last day. (Alma 36: 1-3)
At church, a young man showed up of some 25 years [of age]. He was with his cousin and we got to meet him and tomorrow we are going by. It’s interesting how the last two times we have fasted, someone unexpected came to church all by himself.

Right now the lady of the internet place (who is member) put on Come thou Fount by the Mormon tabernacle! so good.

We had a family home evening with a family. That was great Saturday! The family was obviously converted and when the mom testified about the Book of Mormon, she got all excited explaining how she applies 1 Nephi to her life. The Lord really wrote that book well putting just the right person in the right places so that when he wrote his story it would make a powerful beginning to an immensely powerful book. The investigators there knew us already, since we visited once the husband/ son of the mom. They met us when we looked for him but couldn't find him, and have already gone to church before and have read parts of the Book of Mormon. Anyway it was a highly ideal situation, where the members excitedly present the missionaries and testify in the lesson. Their daughter/grand-daughter was sick and went to the hospital instead of church, but next week I’m pretty sure they shall be there!

What was I going to write....

This morning I woke up with a ton of energy. I have made myself the habit of singing a few lines of "Called to Serve" at the second beep of the alarm every morning as I get off my bunk bed and we go to pray to dedicate our day to the Lord. This morning, I realized I had had a notable dream.

Love Elder Johnson

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

19 March 2012

WHOHOOO! That’s great about the missionaries going out in the field. Saludos [greetings to] James Pope for me.

Dear Family,

RIght now we are finishing those invitations for the conference. The sister who owns the internet place said she could print them out at .25 soles per page, with both sides printed! And that was the same as the one side color copy and one side black and white place in the center that a member was going to help us out with. Now we will have 2 weeks to try to invite all the area to the conference. This will be fun.

Quote from Elder Stewart (we were walking and I hear: sniff, sniff,..sniff.)

"Is that dutch oven potatoes?? donde, cúal casa? me invito!"  [Where is that house?  I’m inviting myself.] haha. I don’t know what those would be, but we didn't find the potatoes. We didn't have time to look either but all good - we got to smell.

This week has been pretty fun.

Michael is still with some [having some] issues from his family. They caused his great faith to be highly troubled telling him that better would be [it would be better] to not think about God much but focus on studying, doing that sort of stuff. The struggle is helping him read. He really has so much homework. He is taking 19 classes right now. Each one is one time a week for 2 hours.

One of the members is being awesome. She is visiting the two Ivons that we are teaching and helping them to feel good and all. She is really loving with all and fulfilling just about all she possibly can. THAT’s some good help with the missionary work. Help the missionaries!!!

Ana Palomino came to church again! We talked to her this week and she is all animated [excited] to get married and to be baptized and go to church forever. She bought some church clothes this week.. She was the one who went all by herself last week. She lives in another ward.. but is moving here at the end of this month we hope. Since her husband works in the mine (lots of people work in the mine. there are places where 20,000 people live, and 15,000 work in the mine of said city). There are lots of mines here in Peru, see the end of 1 Nephi 18:25.
 [25 And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were abeasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of bore, both of cgold, and of silver, and of copper.] 
I’ve been reading the beginning of the book of Mormon again in the past days, and it really impressed me the predictions of the great apostasy and the restoration in first and second Nephi. They are very clear. Nephi even saw Christopher Columbus.

Family Ojeda is a family who has the desire to learn from us. The parents are worried about their oldest son who is in those years [must be teenage years!]. We invited them to start reading every morning the scriptures, and Saturday they did! We don’t know about Sunday, but they couldn't go to church for some reason. The mom wants the youngest child to lead them all to the way, basically. But we are trying to help her see how the family would be able to be if they follow what King Benjamin, in Mosiah 4:15, councils about the role of parents (also 14). But we have to go about that well.
[ 14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
 15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. ]
Mari Diaz, who has gone to church over the past 2 years, needs us to read Mosiah 2-6 with her today. Thats what we planned in the companionship study.

Yesterday we met two people who are a little different. One started telling all types of things that aren’t true... and it was interesting how I could feel that he was lying, even though I had no way of proving it. The next one started out the conversation telling us: I’ve talked to all sorts of people and I’ve asked them what they think of my experience, people and missionaries from every church but yours. He said: When I was five years old I was in front of the house and was looking off into the distance, and from the corner of my eyes I saw a tall, white, beautiful man pass. I wiped my eyes to see better because he was bright, and when I opened them again, he was taking up into a whirlwind. I told my mom and she said it was the devil, and my nose started to bleed.
So at the end of telling us that, he asked us what we thought, what explanation there would be. And at the same time that he explained a little more about some weird stuff, I just felt very clearly that he had never seen such thing. We told him, and he resisted a little, and we repeated that, and he gave up on that attempt. While he talked and spoke about how hell doesn't exist and how we are just a circle and will be born again and have been born before and before and before and how there aren’t really consequences of sin, I remembered Alma 30 and Jacob 7. Those doctrines are not from the Lord. This morning I read 2 Nephi 2:10-14 which is a part that Lehi talks about the nature of the opposition in all things which gives us a good way to know how He [Christ] works and is, and lets us understand His [Christ’s] love. What struck me about the both experiences was how what was true and right was easily distinguished from what was heard, and around me.

Love Elder Johnson

Monday, March 12, 2012

12 March 2012


Elder Mark Johnson and Elder Ryan Stewart in Arequipa on a p-day
44 es su calzado [referring to shoe insert size] de Elder Lozano.

Dear Family!

Just so y’all can look at how much time it takes for the Dear Elders to get to us, Thursday I got one that was sent Feb 26 it looks like, from Eric, who says he has been really preocupied [worried] with not getting on the water the whole first week of crew. Haha I remember the first time I went on the water, I swam.. I swum.. I went swimming 4 times! But that was in a little skinny single hull. Not like the large 8 person shells... just to invite mockery a little.. hahaha ni modo [it doesn’t matter].

This week I shall write my ecclesiastical endorsement for the President to either sign or throw away and start over on. [required for reentry to BYU].
The way that this week started, was great! First the consejo de lideres de zona [Zone Leader Council], y empezamos miercoles con [and we began Wednesday with] 4 contacts who were basically a few taxi drivers and people who sat by us in the busses to and from the consejo [council] in the morning and night.  Miercoles [Wednesday] was a sacred day.

A member asked us to go to the hospital with her to give a blessing to her brother. It was really impacting going to the hospital. Reminded me a little at first of taking the sacrament to those who couldn’t come to the sacrament meeting. We got to the room of her brother who has been there 4 months. He has a tumor in his brain that makes it that he doesn’t talk or react now. I think it’s a coma. But he breathes by one of those tubes and receives nutrients by a little syrup tube connected to a pump that passes his mouth. We stayed there a little before giving him the blessing; meditating, praying, and accompañing [staying with] the sad sister. I reflected in the infinite love that the Lord has for us, and prayed asking to understand how His plan could possibly include all that I saw around me. In that moment, I began to understand much more the plan of salvation and the way that our creator really is constantly watching over each and every one of us. I opened up to Alma 7: 11-13 and meditated the words a little: 

11. And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
13. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

I understood the Savior´s sacrifice and pain for us on a new level and felt as if I had been with him for that small, small part of His understanding that was of the child and son and man in front of me. In the blessing we felt not alone.

Leaving the hospital, we went to the house of that young person who had come to church last Sunday. We taught him the message of the restoration of the gospel of Christ and while we taught how to gain a testimony by prayer, he looked meditative. We proceeded to invite him to be baptized the 31 of March and he said very affirmatively, “Yes.”  
After we reviewed that he can know of the truthfulness of the restoration by praying and asking God to let him know, and he gave us about the biggest surprise I think I’ve every had teaching. He told us, “I already have prayed.” ¡haha! 
We asked, “When? When you read the pamphlet?” 
And he responded, “No, just now, when you were teaching me about prayer. I asked, and I felt a joy when I asked.”

In church yesterday, Michael expressed that his parents and uncles and aunts and grandparents had all talked to him and told him that he shouldn’t be baptized. The 31 would be really, really soon they said. That is a belief really common here. Yesterday we talked to a lady who said she is about to get baptized in another church, and that she has been preparing herself for the last 6 years. Anyway, today we planned to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that they can know of the importance, and nature of baptism. It’s not to pass some sort of knowledge test, but to enter the door, the first fruits of true repentance (2 Nephi 31:17, Moroni 8:25).

Ivon Apaza, the lady who came about a month ago to church and then had her baby boy and wasn’t let out of the house by her mom, has been getting the papers together to get married so that she can be baptized! It’s looking like mid-April at the latest. She was planning on coming yesterday but she slipped and hurt her ankle in the heavy rain Saturday. We hope she`ll be ok. We just talked on the phone a minute yesterday.

Oh, with our pensioner, we’ve been upping my portions a little... since I’m feeling pretty skinny... I weigh about 72 kilograms (158 pounds) with my suit on. Before the mission how much did I weigh? About 170 pounds no or am I mistaken? [Maybe. . .?]

Anyway, the food is good. Haha, right now I shall finish my extra bread from the morning.

Love Elder Johnson

Monday, March 5, 2012

5 March 2012

Dear Family,
5 March 2012

We just passed a week of feeling like better missionaries. Haha I was just reading the Dear Elder about my common spelling mistakes [from Mom]. Today I´m gonna hit "check spelling" so that it doesn't leave here so bad. Pretty embarrassing, my English, but that’s fine.

The Stake President asked me out of the blue how to say "te voy a matar" in English "I kill you?". I told him "I am going to kill you.... why?" He said he was laughing and laughing about a youtube video he saw about a ventriloquist who kept saying that and the translation of that is "te voy a matar". He got a good laugh out of that, and a BYU movie that is a parody of a popular song.. we were going to see the second... but decided to delay that till we are on our time [after the mission].

Today we are going to have a barbecue with the President again! This time I think we shall not come back to shower.. haha, les conté del ultimo mes no? [I told you about last month, right?]

Sunday we were fasting and I studied Isaiah 58. I liked it a lot. Sunday, a young person who we had contacted came to church! That was a surprise. His family are less active members. We shall see. Appointment is Wednesday.

You all reminded me of the small teaching we had with the Israelite pastor who was watching and waiting over his drunk band mate as he undrunked himself when I was reading the Dear Elder where Eric said it was probably the wildest thing ever (haha) and I called him. He said he is in Juliaca (part of the adjacent mission) working a gig there for this week but that he is going to come back next week and would love to be able to talk when he gets back in the next week. we are gonna see. It would be so awesome.

I just read about Haystacks in the Dear Elder [tortilla chips, refried beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa].. mmmmmm I would LOVE some, but it’s all good. Our pensioner [landlady] asked us what was new of the food when we got here, and I said, "todo!" (everything)! haha I showed her the bread in my hand and said "This doesn’t exist there" and the plate either, and the salsa, and the juice, and the everything. The only thing that’s the same is the rice... but that too is a species that is distinct from the rice I grew up with. The sister makes really good tasting rice. She throws.. something I don’t know what but something in there to make it tasty. They have a rice maker that is, but huge. (that’s a spanish phrase that means really, really big, "but huge" -- did they say that in Honduras? Es, pero gigante!) [yes, they did--with gestures and facial expressions to accompany the exaggeration!]

We worked a little this week passing out invitations to the President’s mission preparation class. I read the letter and there was an awesome quote by Elder Ballard. Here is a feeble translation, but for the apostolic rhetoric, and for all, read the talk! it’s in the Liahona of November 2002 page 47 in spanish....
“What we need now is the greatest generation of missionaries that has ever existed in the history of the Church. We need worthy, trained, and spiritually vigorous missionaries, who, like the 2000 stripling warriors of Helaman, are extremely valiant in courage, and strength of activity, and that are in all moments faithful to whatever thing that is trusted in them (Alma 53:20).

But look up the talk Paul!

We are planning that seed of the idea that we had last week. We want to place an invitation to General Conference in every home in our area... since before it was 2 areas... it’s going to be a little of a challenge, but I think we shall do it at the same time as we do our morning exercises, running. That should work well.

We were a little discouraged one day because lots of people were rejecting us outright, and we decided to keep on talking to everyone! We talked to a lady about how today the Lord is restoring everything, and she was basically stunned that today He has sent 12 disciples and prophets just like He did 2000 years ago. I like it so much when the people give an ear to what we are saying. It’s really stunning. I continue to be amazed by the little reading in Our Heritage that I have been able to do.

Love Elder Johnson