Monday, May 28, 2012

28 May 2012

Dear Family!
28 May 2012
This week has been really interesting. If you want to look up the map, we live in the street San Jose number 3. Right where San Jose begins going towards the North East from Av. Arica. The limits of the area more or less are from Urb. El Morro to the town square, and from Arica to some street that I still don’t know.  Thats awesome to hear that the Leavitt’s are back. 
That will be so cool if Mitt Romney wins. Paul will be able to knock doors and say, We are from the Church of Jesus Christ.They say never heard of it? Paul says: “Oh yes you have! The President is from our Church! They say "Oh come right in!" haha. The birthday package did not get here before. I will be in Arequipa on my birthday in the zone leader council. Feeling the Spirit, making plans, learning a ton, eating good, and a 6 hour bus ride, haha.
Here in Tacna we don't exactly have a pensionista. We rent a room in the house of some members and we eat breakfast there, but all the members put their names in a list and we eat with them for lunch (the biggest and most important meal) here. In Latin American countries, there is something called, over-table. (Sobremesa) The custom of eating and being at the table for a while as a family talking, discussing. Family bonding time. We can talk about the missionary work of each family in the sobre mesa and it’s quite good. Also, since it is rare that the families give us food (about 1 time a month) they give us really, really good food. Peruvian food is great!
We have started a campaign to work super hard with the members.  To that end, the work of finding is all about the members. We shouldn't find the investigators. I mean, it is inevitable that we are walking and pass a person who really needs the gospel, but like President Hinckley said, we need to make a support system. That system is made almost automatically when a member invites the people to hear us and hosts the lesson. That situation is excellent.
A counselor came to us as the reunion [meeting] started and advised us that one would be talking, so I did, since I’m new. I spoke about that system of support and presented myself. It was just of 5 minutes so... really fast. Then we went to the class of Gospel Principles. Wow it was awesome. I don’t know why I never realized it, but that class can be powerful. We’ve got 25 converts from the past year. There were almost 20 in the class! I think a lot of the health of a ward is seen in the strength in its Gospel Principles class. It’s super important to call a teacher of the class and make it a class just as important as the others.
The stake mission plan has a part that asks the missionaries to teach members how to carry out their missionary responsibilities as members each Sunday.--each Sunday to a different organization. Well... that means that someone has to teach the priesthood of the areas of sisters, so we went to Parachico after 2 hours in our ward Granados. Parachico is also powerful. They’ve got a brand new chapel (the majority of the chapels in Tacna have been built in the last 20 years. There are 13 chapels, 3 stakes. It would be interesting to look up the population. There are so many more members here than there are in Virginia. Interesting. The church has been here only 40-50 years, almost all the members are converts, first generation. They marvel when I tell them that all my cousins aunts uncles and grandparents, and great grandparents too I think, are members. A question: how many generations has our family been in the church? [The answer is 5 generations on Rene’s paternal side, probably 6-7 on her maternal side, probably 6-7 on both paternal and maternal sides for Jeff’s family].
So we went there and it was so fun to teach the high priests and the elders priests and teachers and deacons. They were receptive and like the practices and examples that we gave them. We saw a really cool movie that showed church growth by stakes. It’s so true that the growth has been incredible. But we really have just scratched the surface. There is so much space in India, China, Asia where there are not a lot of stakes. . . the Amazons. . . haha. There’s tons of people to find even in the places where the church is strong. I heard that the Salt Lake City mission baptized more than 500 people a few months ago. That’s good working with members. I think they probably find 500 people who aren’t members a month haha... there aren’t that many over there [in Utah].
So they made a promise to give the sisters one reference each every single one of them in the month of June. Their bishop is bateries. That’s a spanish idiom for: he works hard and the ward is getting animated to work hard.
After, he asked us to come back and do something similar with his ward council so they could get animated for missionary work. We did so and it was very cool. The best ward council I’ve ever gone to. We felt the spirit very strongly.
I contacted a man who is from India! He speaks Hindu, another dialect, Spanish, and English. His English and Spanish both are really, really good. I was very impressed. He said he has talked with missionaries before and that he differs a little in the belief of Christ. They believe that he was a great prophet. But not the son of God. They believe that by Him much changed and the world has forever improved, but that God is an identity who can’t be born, can’t die, or have children (or maybe I heard him wrong about the children). Anyway we have an appointment to visit him and teach him about the Book of Mormon. Talking with him I remembered how powerful it is to convince all, Jew or Gentile, that Jesus is the Christ, the Holy of Israel [see Introduction to the Book of Mormon]. It will be great.
Love Elder Johnson

Thursday, May 24, 2012

23 May 2012

Yesterday I couldn’t write because at 3:30 in the morning, the assistants called us and gave us the changes. I was going to my new area all day almost. It took me forever to put my stuff in my two suitcases. I’ve got quite a bunch of artifacts that I don’t use... notebooks, binders, little things that people have given me. The pensioner was pretty pretty sad when I told her I had a change. She is Sister Tejada [Sister Teha(th/d)a] and the husband is the stake president. She always has a hard time in the changes. She serves us so well, always trying to fatten me up. She gave me 7 of the new Nuevo Sole coins that come out every once in a while here in Peru. I’ll try to send a picture of my collection. Peru has some exceedingly fine coins. coming out.
I don’t know if it’s a thing about Tacna... but the internet here is slow again just like the last time I was here....
Hopefully the pictures can upload. The way over here was a long trip, but with very stunning desert scenes. Part of the way here reminded me of the Painted Desert that we saw in Arizona. Pretty interesting. Along the way there are a few cities, and a few future cities. People buy the land and put a little shack on it so that nobody takes it, and then abandon it for the next 10 years waiting for the land to increase in value. One member recently sold something like 60,000 square meters that she bought a long time ago for super cheap but is now something like 20 soles per square meter. She made bank. She’s actually living in the States, but came so she could sell the property. Really, really interesting are the landscapes of the Peruvian southern deserts. It made me want to have a dirt bike and go exploring there... it should be just as easy to ride as a bike, no?
This week we talked with the husband of Mari Diaz! At last!  It was just a moment but we could talk about his family a second and we asked him if he would support his wife if she decided to be baptized. He said “YES!”
That was probably because right before, we were teaching a lady. In the Companionship study, we had been studying DyC 100:5-8. 
 5 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; aspeak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be bconfounded before men;
 6 For it shall be agiven you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.
 7 But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye adeclare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.
 8 And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the aHoly Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.
We were thinking we can apply that scripture better so that the promise is given, and in the lesson before indicated, we did so! The lady was definitely guided to know [the truth]. She is named Elena. I’m going to do some follow up to see if she gets baptized in the next council of zone leaders when I’ll see Elder Erhard with his new companion Elder Huaman (Elder Wamon). We taught her all the first lesson and got to the part about the Book of Mormon. We explained a little and read some with her and did the following:
We read the introduction, then we read 1 Nephi 6:4, 
 4 For the fulness of mine intent is that I may apersuade men to bcome unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.
explaining that the God of all those and us is Jesus Christ, and how we should come unto Him. Then she read Omni 1:26 
 26 And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.
and she was thinking and thinking about what she had read. The word in her mind was: offer up all of your souls. She said, to do that, I should be baptized I think. That was guided. We then read 2 Nephi 31.
This Saturday I came to the end of the Holy Bible. That was a pretty cool achievement. I set myself a goal and I did it!
I was also thinking about the importance of talking with the Lord. Praying always. We talked with a mother and daughter this week from a particular church. Last week we had left them a Book of Mormon and invited them to read. They accepted and we passed by  to find them and the mom and daughter had all sorts of ideas... but in short, they hadn’t read with prayer and hadn’t asked in prayer to know if the Book is true. So even though we answer every single doubt they can have, just like Preach My Gospel says, the objections are answered with them passing the wall of faith and asking the Lord in earnest prayer to know if the Book is true. Just answering the doubts can’t give them that knowledge if they aren’t willing to ask. We should have the trusting relationship with the Lord where we can talk about whatever thing and He helps us. After all, He loves us so much.
I was reading the Doctrine and Covenants on the 6 hour bus trip here and read in DYC 24, and I liked quite a few verses in particular. Especially with the subject of my extension and the calling of Paul as a missionary.  Read the section Paul, I was thinking of you reading it. Like Nephi says, apply the scriptures to ourselves, replace Oliver with Paul. I know everything shall be perfect.
Now in Tacna we are going to work really, really hard. I’m with an Ecuatoriano. Elder Beletanga.
Love Elder Johnson

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

15 May 2012

Mark needs a new watch band.  So, he sent us the measurements in mm.

. . . and inches.

Boxes and boxes of copies of the Book of Mormon and other pamphlets about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
plus some missionaries.

Queridisimo Familia, (My Dearest Family),
15 May 2012
It was SO good to be able to talk to y’all yesterday. Despite the connection that was somewhat lacking. It was a sweet experience to have y’all on the other end of the phone.
This week we have been in divisiones [splits] with some missionaries since Tuesday. An interesting situation. The President said he will call us when he gets the word to know what to do there... I’m missing Elder Erhard, but also enjoying the time I’ve spent with the missionary.
This morning there was a small earthquake! I woke up and thought there must have been a huge tank or something passing (I was tired, ok?) and I jumped off the top bunk, and went over to the window but there was nothing! Then my companion got up too and from behind comes running and says "Get out! Get out! Get out! It’s an earthquake!" We jumped out the door and waited a little. It continued a little while longer and then settled down, returned a little and disappeared. It wasn't much shakage (like the one we passed in Tacna with Elder Stewart) but it was long.
I think it’s a sign of the times when all the buttons on your shirts and pants start falling off. I’m getting good at sewing them back on. The shoe laces: I need a black shoe lace and a white one too.  I’ve also attached a foto [photo] of the measurements of my watch. If you could send athletic socks that would be great too!
Thanks so much.
Saturday we had a really interesting lesson. It was the climax of an idea I have been having all week. We knocked the door of a lady who opened it right up. She is a convert to the Baptist church. She is awesome and very converted to Christ. We talked a little about the gospel of Christ and mentioned about receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We read Acts 8 and 19 with her, but we did not have the spirit in the teaching, but rather a slight contention. I realized that and she did too. I remembered DYC 50:13-22 and asked her to forgive us for not teach the truth in a way that the Spirit could testify, and the Spirit came. We invited her to read and meditate what the Book of Mormon said (which she previously refused to do because the spirit wasn't there citing scriptures like the one in Revelations even though we had explained that and cited the one Deuteronomy to make it clear) And she committed herself to read and ponder and pray for Tuesday. That was a pretty cool moment when we repented and returned to teaching by the Spirit.
This week we received 65 boxes of brochures (or is pamphlets the word?) and copies of the Book of Mormon.  See the picture (by the way I was hunched over my tie is Not too long.)
I think I should follow what the Lord indicates [concerning the mission extension], but I shall look again, study, and fast. In the emails you sent me there are lots of reasons to extend or not to extend. Paul, do the same so we can know what the Lord wants us to do, and the same answer will be come to. Let’s not worry.  Just trust in Him who has called us knowing that His purposes have been revealed to profets [prophets] and to us so that we might know the way to follow. He knows us and desires more than any other thing our happiness and success in life. Trusting in Him and only him, we can know what to do. Alma 37:37
I’m going to work with all my strength this week
Elder Johnson

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

7 May 2012

Dear Family, 
7 May 2012

Now I do have the names! But warning again, I highly doubt they are spelled right, and they are in Spanish:
  1. Giardia:
  2. Blastosisitis Honminu [Blastocystis hominus, high geographic distribution, especially prevalent in developing countries, fecal-oral transmission from animals to humans]
  3. Kiromastiks Mesnilla [can’t find this one or translate it?  anyone? -Rene]
But now I'm feeling pretty good. Not that I ever didn't, I just finished the pills and yea... pretty much the same, although I think I'm eating less, and I'm not so underweight now. I think.
So we had the Zone Leaders conference as we habitually have every first Monday and Tuesday of each month. It was a wild one. President Fernandez had just gotten back from his meeting of Mission Presidents of the whole South American North West area. They talked about a bunch of cool stuff. One thing that he shared with us was from Doctrine and Covenants. It was so interesting.
Yea its all about Doctrine and Covenants 130:20. [20 There is a alaw, irrevocably decreed in bheaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all cblessings are predicated—]
Then we talked a little about how faith is a principle of power and that if we want blessings we only need to be obedient to the law upon which those blessings are predicated. We read in D&C 104:78 [ 78 And again, verily I say unto you, concerning your debts—behold it is my will that you shall apay all your bdebts.] and he explained how the Lord wants us to get out of our problems. It’s a great scripture for those who have debts especially. Not only debts, but HE wants us to be efficient powerful missionaries. 
So we read D&C 104:80  [80 And inasmuch as you are diligent and humble, and exercise the aprayer of faith, behold, I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt, until I shall send means unto you for your bdeliverance]. gives us the conditions by which He will send us the solution. 
And D&C104:79 [79 And it is my will that you shall ahumble yourselves before me, and obtain this blessing by your bdiligence and humility and the prayer of faith] which reassures us that it is His will that we receive the blessing. 
And so we read D&C 88:34 [ 34 And again, verily I say unto you, that which is agoverned by law is also preserved by law and perfected and bsanctified by the same] It is just so cool. It says that if we let the law govern us, it will protect and sanctify us. It will make us protected and perfect. What we have to do is apply ourselves to the Law that has been given us to be able to be perfect.
That was a pretty intense lesson.
I’ve been thinking continually about what I can do. You all remember how last Christmas I told y'all how I was desirous to extend about a year. Mom asked: "If you ask and they tell you no, is that because you don't have faith?" I replied more or less "No, it just means I’ve got to repent of having a desire not in line with the will of the Lord" 
So I was in an interview a while back with the president and I mentioned how I wanted to extend, and he said, “How much, a month?”
And I said “No.”
And he said, “A transfer?”
And I said, “No.” 
“Two transfers?”
 I said, “No.”
Then I said, I just don't feel like I should. He said something so cool in reply. He said, “If you become a consecrated missionary, whatever thing you ask for will be given to you.”
That left me thinking a while and I was reflecting on what the scriptures say: That if we ask in the Spirit, we will never ask for something that isn't the will of the Lord, and that all it will be given us. Preach My Gospel also says something like that. And so I consulted in that manner, and I will be able to extend 6 weeks! I talked to the President and he said that it seems excellent. Return date: September 26 Wednesday. I hope my being late in that doesn’t affect too much for all y’all.
Also in the zone leader’s counsel, the President asked a question and nobody was answering, and so I answered and got the first part right, and 4 parts more and there! It was really easy, and I don’t know why but the president was pretty satisfied so he said to the assistants, “Write down that we’re eating at Chilis with Elder Johnson and Elder Erhard next Monday. So we’re lunching at Chilis with the President today! Then, since our zone and 2 other zones had 4 baptisms (and that at the beginning of the month -- as a mission we are trying to make it so the majority of the baptisms are in the beginning of the month in order to have more constancy in the work-- and not the end like always), in each we got the invitation to play soccer with the President and the other two zones at 2 after lunch.
Looks like we can’t use skype this year for Mother’s Day.
In my study this morning, I read some scriptures I really liked!
First Mormon 8:39 [39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?]
Next Mormon 9:27-28 [ 27 O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. aDoubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and bcome unto the Lord with all your cheart, and dwork out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.
 28 Be awise in the days of your bprobation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your clusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and dliving God.]
I’m about to finish for the 6th time in the mission the Book of Mormon. It is so true. So, so true.
We couldn’t teach David this week because his father got really sick and he even had to be in the hospital at 9:15 Sunday. So he couldn’t go to church. 
It seems that Diego or his dad didn’t tell his mom he wanted to be baptized till Friday... and she wants all the uncles and aunts to be there... so we are rescheduling.
I attached here a picture of the zone and also a video of a practice we did with me and Elder Erhard this morning on the day of rest. Not the best thing.. haha but funny.
Love Elder Johnson