Monday, April 30, 2012

30 April 2012

Dear family,

It’s 11:11 am as I start this email!

So, Mom asked about the parasites I got. Here’s the list. But warning: the North American nurse was telling me by phone with poor reception to another North American in spanish saying words I’ve never heard before. Soo.. the spelling is surely more or less... and in spanish. A ver (we’ll see)
  1. ahhhh I can’t find the list! That’ll have to be next week unless it turns up right now. 
Well I’m sorry about that. Ill try to see if I left it in the room or if it fell in the way.. I really was so sure I had brought it.

Anyway we are with the stuggle of have to find a new room to live in.. that’s a problem because we have to do that today basically... haha I dunno if we shall be able to. The dueño wants to live where we are... so we gotta go. It’s been kind of a weird situation but anyway... I hope we can still live right by the church. It’s so nice being so close. We are less than a block from the church!

Yesterday we had the 5th Sunday and we asked (as the missionary work) to be able to give the combined class [Typically during the 3rd hour of church--all over the world--, the men and women meet separately.  Sometimes on a 5th Sunday, they meet together]. There were some 40 adults there! We prepared a cool program. First, we started out with singing “Hark all Ye Nations” [Here is a recording: ] and a prayer. Then the bishopric counselor gave us the time and we started talking a little about the Dream of Lehi]. I mentioned the quote of President Eyring(?) that says "if the gospel, in the way you have received it, doesn't give you a profound desire to share it with everyone, then you should go back to to books (basically I can’t remember how it is exactly right now).

Then I asked everyone if they believe in modern revelation. Haha. Everyone raised their hands "yes we do!" So I asked them: “What does it mean for you when Bruce R McConkie said: “Every Member a Missionary”? That provoked quite a bit of reflection. We analyzed it a little and talked about how the Lord is talking there and says that every member should be a missionary, a full time finder. We read in DyC 19 and 24 some of my favorite scriptures about just talking with everyone and we promised them help from on high. So then Elder Erhard talked a little about the joy that we have when we share the gospel.

Next we watched a short video of 18 minutes that is called "By Small and Simple Things" which shows the history of one young woman who dares to share and writes her testimony in a Book of Mormon and gives it to a friend who says thanks and getting home throws it por alli [away or to the side]. El piensa un poco y lo recoga [He thinks a bit and then gets it], and he begins to read, reads all night, prays and receives a testimony. His friend invites him to meet the missionaries and presents them to him and his family. The movie continues with their baptism and it s pretty awesome! It finishes with clips of a talk by President Eyring about how members who share the gospel and it shows some interviews with converts. Very cool.

So everyone felt the spirit and we asked them to stand up, and make a circle in the activity room (like a smaller gym.. but not a basketball court like ours [in Arlington] since they have a small futblito canchita [area for soccer] in the back with a basketball court.) Ready. So they all got in a circle and we walked to the bishopric counselor. We pulled out a balloon that had a name on it (exactly one of the bag y’all sent me for my last birthday I think) and we told all that he would have to keep it in the air. Easy. So we gave him another. And another. We had blown up like 120 with the air compressor of the Stake President (our neighbor/carpenter) We averaged 1 balloon ever 4 seconds with that machine working the both of us! That’s 15 per minute!) Each had a name and it was quickly apparent that the counselor just couldn't do it alone. The whole ward had to help and pass the balloons around the circle to help all the different people, members, not members, investigators, less actives, and everyone!

At the end we grouped them all again and gave each a piece of paper with the self copying thing to have two of each (one for us one for them) to write the names of their friends and people who they can invite to meet the missionaries, and another space to put the actions they will do THIS week to make it happen. They left us their address and number and we will do some follow up this week. In all, there are 41 names that we collected. About 9 from other wards/stakes and 32 from our ward!

After the prayer we invited them to see the table where we had on display all the things we can give away and they took quite a few to give to their friends and neighbors. We had copies of the Book of Mormon, Pamphlets, Pass along cards, cards that have the Articles of Faith, DVDs of the Restoration, the Testaments, Finding Faith in Christ, and there was a sheet that has a schedule for Family home evening with your friends for this trimester so they can sign up to have us there.

Well that was a lot of fun. We talked to a few after that said they really felt the spirit in that short hour! One who said that was Mary Diaz. We haven't seen her since I said she wanted to be baptized Saturday about 4 weeks ago... since she started working until 10:30 every night.. and wasn't in the house the only day of rest she has: Sunday. We basically thought we weren’t going to see her again, but she showed up for the sacrament meeting with her daughter out of no where. She still wants to be baptized... but she doesn’t want her husband to know. We invited her for next Sunday in the morning, and she said yes, but while we planned with her how to prepare her for it.. one of the things was tell your husband... and she doesn’t want to... I think she needs to talk to someone not us to work out those things... because it isn’t so simple as just tell him. Anyway, I learned there that the family that the Gospel produces is much, much, much, better than whatever form of family that doesn’t follow the Gospel teachings.

There is a young man who probably will be baptized next Saturday. He is family of members less actives but has been attending church the past few week all by himself and the only factor that really could keep him from baptism would be the mom. The dad is a less active and got really excited when we told him of the desires of his son.

WOW I gotta tell y’all about a contact we did when I was with Elder Child in interchanges. In the planning session the night before we had prayed to know where to go in the morning and felt to go to Haiti Street. Turns out we were called upon to check out the new room the sisters are going to move into to see that it’s ok (one of our responsibilities) and we did so at 11 and got back right before lunch. I wasn’t sure if we should go to lunch or Haiti and so we prayed and felt like we should go. We were contacting there and we met a man who we were talking with when David passed by.  He said he felt something (later) and felt like he should talk with us. So we finished the contact and started talking to him.
David is really happy and he is super outgoing too. He was coming back from the Gym and haha said he is in the best shape of his life with 49 years (really reminded me of a bowflex commercial) Anyway he said: I wanna talk with y’all, not right now because I work a TON and couldn’t talk with you till friday, could you come then? We couldn’t so we planned for Saturday and left him a Book of Mormon. He said that he wanted to know why people can go to church with their heart Saturdays AND Sundays ( He goes Saturday).

So we got there Saturday and verified his reading. He said he read Moroni 10:4-5 and loved it. he said, when I read this, it really seems like the bible. Ive been reading the bible since I was a kid and I just feel something that’s great when I read this book! We helped him see that that is from the Spirit and talked about his sabbath question. We helped him see how we couldn’t define that doctrine without apostolic authority (see talk of Elder Christoferson) and explained the Restoration. He loved it. We read the last principle, prayer and the Holy Ghost, of the first lesson right out of Preach my Gospel with him, and he really got emotional when he read it and asked us to get him a copy of the book, no importa el precio [the price was not important]. Haha it’s like a dollar here.

Anyway since he always works Sunday, and is some kind of boss, he had tons of appointments and couldn’t clear them 1 day antes [before] and so he said, “Can I go next week? I really want to see how it is!”

More news on him later.
Love Elder Johnson.

Monday, April 23, 2012

23 April 2012

Baptism of Rosa Huayhua

Friends and Family
Week 3 of April
Dear Family,
So. This week has been so awesome! But at the same time very worrying. We are trying to help everyone come unto christ, but we are really worried as they aren’t really coming.
Since we are always doing interchanges of companions, about 2 per week, that means we get to know the investigators of all the zone. Rosa Huayhua, who was baptized in Congata this week asked the Elders there if I could baptize her. Elder Parra and I taught her about 3 weeks ago. So Elder Erhard and I did divisions and I went over there to interview her and another man (who is still preparing himself for baptism) and be able to baptize her. The water was FRIGID because the water heater doesn’t work of the chapel there. Anyway we descended to the water, and shivering a little I started, and then all the cold was expelled. She said later that she felt the same thing. It was an honor to be able perform the ordinance.
Wow I’m writing really slow right now.
My pensioner has been worried with my apparent weight loss (though I think I’m going up again). Here´s the deal. I ate tons and tons in Camaná, and when I got here, I figured I was eating too much so I told her that normal, I could eat whatever quantity she wanted to serve. So I started losing weight fast and she started giving me tons too. I got the question of why I had to eat so much, and decided to get a test taken out with the mission nurse. She sent me three wonderful plastic bottles to fill up. Haha and bueno. I got my results back. I had something like 3 different parasites (even though I think 1 -- giardia-- was really a result of my error in sample collection by contaminating it with water that was unclean)  The other two don’t live in the water that comes out of the faucet (so that you remember, here, the water doesn’t come out of the faucet ready to drink.  You must boil it, chorine it, sunburn it, pasteurize it, or forget it) 
Anyway the three get killed by the same pill so it doesn’t really matter. I took a picture of us this morning but I think I looked super fat.. looks like it’s working haha.
One of the things we did this week with the zone was to have a competition of reciting Moroni 8:16. It was pretty funny. we gave a prize to those who won. The man who works with the mission brought us a box, and we decided that it would be the prize to those who won. Well Elder Westover won! It was so good. He said it as an ancient man and it was pretty good. So we gave him the box we got from the mission. And he opened it. Unfortunately turns out the box didn’t contain sweets or anything, rather it had a box for Sister Quitana and an English book for her companion Sister Chavez. 
We talked forever Sunday with this one man who is very nice. They shall read and pray.
We were walking and thinking a little in the morning Saturday and something quite awesome happened. We passed a house and looked at it and it impressed us that we should knock on the door. We bounded up the stairs (it was up a considerable hill so I was out of breath) and a man opened the door. I said: Excuse me, and he said, "pass" haha. It seems that excuse me is a magic word to get into houses. In spanish: Permiso. He lives in another area but is the best!
We shall be working with that.
Elder Johnson

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Snail Mail Letter, probably about 4/1/12

Dear Family,

Lined paper!  Fun, no? I like writing on lined paper a lot more than those papers with squares that I've sent you.  Right now, my writing my be extra hard to read since I'm taking advantage of a 40 minutes ride in the bus/van to get some thoughts/experiences down.  This bus is a little bigger than the [Toyota] Sienna that we have [in Arlington].  The roof is raised and we are currently driving through the water/sewage that is left over from when the drains overflowed yesterday and the day before in the rain.  I think that they are one system--storm drains and drains from the bathroom, although maybe they are by our house in Virginia too. . . I really don't know.  Whenever I dreamed of touring the storm drains in the park behind our house [in Virginia], I imagined them as separate and clean.

This morning for exercise, we ran to the hills at one side of our area.  With google earth, it should be pretty easy to find the spot though I don't know if you can get to know the streets with street views--I suspect not.  If you can find Tingo, pretty much from the big intersection of Tingo where the street curves into Hunter until the street Brasilia, bordered also by the farms on the Misty side and the farms/river on the away from Misty side. (Misty is the volcano in the middle [he drew a bumpy landscape with an arrow pointing to "Misty".]

There are about 500 members on the ward's records.  We had some 150-200 in church at the ward conference on March 11, 2012.  There was a choir!  Accompanied by a pianist!!!  It was so much prettier to sing with a piano.  I would like to be able to play it, but I don't know well enough.  The pianist was a visiting from another ward just to play in the conference.  I'm definitely looking forward to General Conference!  I don't know if this letter will get there before conference though.  I suspect not.

Anyway, last time I was in Hunter in the ward a few minutes walk from Hunter (Agosto Freyre) there wasn't much green at all.  Due to the rain, the hills have gained a nice coat of green!  I like it.

As for our investigators, we need to do something to be able to find all those people who are being prepared.  Keep praying so that we can find them all!

Well, this letter is taking forever.

We just finished playing football and soccer.  It's important to play together in order to build unity in the zone.  The zone is passing a particularly hard month.  We've got to work much harder this month of April.  We are hoping that from tomorrow, we can get perfect.

In writing this letter, I find myself with perfect health, not a problem in the world.  I DID get the shoes you all sent me.  I think y'all had to send them in two different boxes?  They got here re-boxed in boxes from the mission, I think.

Just today I heard how Paul is going to the Arizona-Tempe mission (spanish speaking)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And this is so excellent!

I hope all the months left can be really good missionary preparation there!  And while I'm here and Paul there, I hope to get all the letters of Paul!  Has he ever read the Book of Mormon alone?  He should make that a priority definitely to start feasting every day from the words of Christ, for they will tell us all the things that we must do.  That's so exciting that he will be able to start the absolute best two years of his lifetime so far.

Anyway, I close for now till next Monday in my letter. I hope this week we can find each and every chosen child so they can see the conference.


Elder Johnson

Monday, April 16, 2012

16 April 2012

Noooooooo my whole email got deleted.
Dear Family,
16 April 2012
Well, what i was saying... was that this week was sweet. The first week with Elder Erhard. I really enjoyed the week. Mari Diaz is with the struggle that she didn't make it to church! I don't know why we haven't been able to see her, but in the week we went by and we checked up on her and she was good but not reading every day the scriptures. Like Preach my Gospel says in chapter 2, to be able to preserver to the end and be faithful in the Gospel, we must develop the habit of reading the scriptures. We are gonna try to help her get that habit super well put.
Last night we were in the bunks, and at 10:35, we heard a little rustling. Elder Erhard shone his light on the trash can and nothing. So we returned to sleeping. And then we heard more... and then we looked, but nothing. The third time, we looked and a little mouse crawled out of the trash and ran away. Throughout the night we heard more but could never get him. At least it isn't a cockroach problem.
Yesterday, we felt the prompting to talk to two people who were passing us, and we didn't act immediately, since it was past dinner time and we were late. But we finally gave case right after they passed (1 Nephi 4) and talked to them. They were so cool! They were children of a member who was baptized 8 years ago. They knew just about everything and just need to know how to gain a testimony. 
I’m sad for losing everything, I can’t write more.
Love Elder Johnson

Monday, April 9, 2012

9 April 2012

Haha still? Eric did it [the Easter egg hunt] with the brace and crutches?

Dear Family,

This week we worked so hard. Well better said, we worked better.

Monday and Tuesday was the council of zone leaders. We talked about a bunch of things. Among them were the themes of standing on the Lord’s side of the line (a theme from the conference) and making sure we are able to receive the inspiration we need to be able to teach by the Spirit. We talked about the power and authority that has been given us, and we talked about focusing on all our missionary purpose and not just focusing on baptizing, but really the invitation to all to follow Christ. That’s what everyone needs to hear, and they all need to make a decision. We hope that those who choose (usually just by their actions not words) to not [follow Christ], can feel the Spirit while we teach them so that later they can make the right decisions by their actions.

Wednesday we went to do companion interchanges with Palacio (Elder Child y Elder Bastidas) and we realized that we would have interviews with the President in the night. The assistants had called us at 11 p.m. the night right before, but we were so asleep that we didn’t remember until studying with the Elders in Palacio (Palacio is spanish for Palace- their area has some of the biggest areas in the whole world-- well, in all of Arequipa)

In our interview with the president we both went in first, Elder Stewart y yo [I]. We talked a little about the zone and what the zone is facing and doing, the plans. Next he looked at our goal for April. He had us sign and commit ourselves to really do it. We ARE GOING TO. Well... I am. There were changes and sadly Elder Stewart was changed to the Umacollo zone in the same city of Arequipa.

In that moment, he asked if we can do the goal we put ourselves. We basically said, help us have the faith so big that we can do it, and he said, it isn’t the faith that you need, rather power in the teaching. We have been set apart and given divine authority to preach. This authority gives us the right to have power, but it doesn’t come automatically. We read DyC 11:21. Emphasis in if you desire.
 21 Seek not to adeclare my word, but first seek to bobtain my cword, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my dSpirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the econvincing of men.
Then we talked about DyC 33:1 
. . .open ye your ears and hearken to the voice of the Lord your God . . . [who] is a discerner of the thoughts and cintents of the heart.
Then Alma 8:18.
 Now it came to pass that after Alma had received his message from the angel of the Lord he returned speedily to the land of Ammonihah. And he entered the city by another way, yea, by the way which is on the south of the city of Ammonihah.
He opened his cuad that he has in English (the church instructs all members of the church here to learn English and he knows English pretty well!) and he talked about what Alma did. Speedily, and, through another way.

So he charged us to go speedily and just do it.

We focused and prayed so much every time we could teach in the week, and we taught all our investigators.  We found 21 new investigators and ran basically everywhere. In the contacts we focused on following the spirit to know what doors to knock and it worked!

A little bit of a disappointment Sunday when the tons and tons that we had committed to come didn’t come to sacrament meeting! But Mari Diaz and her daughter Helen came to church! Teaching Mari Diaz, who has come a while, we talked about how is the eternal life. We talked about how to be able to have it. The class Elder Stewart taught on Gospel Principles was on the covenant people and the church. She was thinking about all this. The Spirit prompted us to open DyC 76:50-52. 
 50 And again we bear record—for we asaw and heard, and this is the btestimony of the cgospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the djust
 51 They are they who received the atestimony of Jesus, and bbelieved on his name and were cbaptized after the dmanner of his burial, being eburied in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
She read it and we analyzed a little. She had my triple combination in hand and kept reading a little as we explained a little. She read 53 and 54. She told us: And here it says that to go there, we have to conquer by faith (is that correctly translated?). I have to conquer by the faith and be baptized.

Wow that was a moment where she listened to and followed the dictates of the Spirit.

She told us that she will be baptized next week (after this Saturday that’s coming). She said she doesn’t know that everything is perfect, but she feels like she needs to do it so she will (Alma 32:16). 
16 Therefore, blessed are they who ahumble themselves without being bcompelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without cstubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.
We shall work with her so she can feel certainty in these days but that is so awesome!!!

Sunday, we got the changes. Elder Stewart went to Umacollo :(.

Elder Erhard came from the same area and is the same with which I was in Tacna! This will be great.

Love Elder Johnson

Anyway, we started to work and work and concentrar. [concentrate]

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

4 April 2012

Dear Family

Paul has been lobbying that I take Econ something... I don't think that's a needed class? I'm not too excited about taking an unneeded class since the last time I did that, even though it was really interesting, the rest of the students were all seniors and juniors, which kind of whipped me a little. haha

I did get the shoes! They are really light weight! Thanks!! I got them 2 weeks ago too.. I just kept forgetting to put that in here. Did the insoles get sent too?

This week was CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so awesome. We enjoyed every single one of the 5 sessions. It was SO cool to listen to those people, to see how their talks worked together on themes, and to hear their passion for the Work.

As you will see in the pictures, I have gotten a Christmas letter! it went all the way to Thailand from the Simmons before getting here. That was cool. Thanks Simmons!

We had a success on the invitation to go to conference of about 1% haha. The good thing is that we invited tons and tons of people. It blows my mind that it was that low though... We shall have to improve that. There is a possibility that quite a few people came that we didn't see though, there were lots and lots of people in the stake center (our chapel is the stake center!) Sunday in the morning, the whole chapel, and the whole cultural room (like a gym) and two more rooms were filled. We watched it in the secretary’s room for lack of TVs.

After one session Saturday, we stopped by an investigator’s home. We talked about her reading of the Book of Mormon, and invited her to be baptized. We were a little late so went running to be able to make it to the conference on time. Running, we passed two big dogs, who decided to make a perfect moment from the Best Two Years [a movie about LDS missionaries] and followed us chasing and barking. Haha. They never bite.. they just like to make noise. One fell on his face though when he decided to bark very close to my leg and I jumped away while running.

Wow. The March Liahona said we should go to conference with a specific question in mind, so I decided to do it. I went Saturday in the morning, and it was answered with such clarity that I was stunned. In the afternoon, I decided to keep looking for answers to the same, and was guided even more. In the Priesthood session, I decided to go with another question. Almost every talk gave part of the answer. Sunday I went with another question, and my questions kept being answered! I was really worried between the sessions of Sunday. I felt a specific impression about a problem we have here in our area... and went to the afternoon session of conference. Almost all the talks gave answers to that question too! I received a specific and direct guide in every single session of the conference. There truly is a God in Israel, who hears our prayers and answers them. All of them.

One great talk was by Elder Hallstrom, who came here with Elder Oaks half a year back. Pretty profound the idea of being active in the church and not in the gospel.

But they were really all great.

I sent a picture with Misty because the Dear Elder that grandma sent me had a question about why it’s the white city. One of the reasons is that the volcano (active I think) is often covered with snow, also, since the volcano has a special type of rock that is used often in the construction of homes. The rock is cut into large bricks that are 20 by 40 by 20 centimeters I think. They are often piled upon each other without mortar and covered with a tin roof in the poorer places. The rock is white/grey and not very dense - so the large bricks are easily handled.

Here, Palm Sunday is a pretty big celebration. I remember something in primary as a kid, but not much. Anyway, at 6:30 we started to hear people walking by and someone singing with a loudspeaker. We looked out some 10 minutes later when it didn't stop, and we saw a HUGE procession of people. Hundreds and hundreds of people must have passed us. We just saw the end of the procession. I think they were heading to the highest hill by our area that is topped by a cross. So that's an interesting fact.

We gotta run early today!

Love Elder Johnson

P.S. Let us study with much care the conference talks!