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

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