Monday, June 18, 2012

18 June 2012

Dear Family,
18 June 2012

One week older and wiser too! Happy we-ek, too all!

I'm really struggling with writing in my journal recently. The prophets say we should keep one, but I haven't been able to organize well my time to be able to do well here in Tacna. I gotta work on that. Today I'm planning on playing catch up. and then I shall be able to grab the habit of writing every day.

I'm also considering buying myself a keyboard, since these keyboards in the internet cafe are just terrible. I'm working up some serious finger muscle just trying to jam down each key every time I want to write a "p" or delete a letter or put an "e" or press the right arrow key.

Here in Tacna the story is pretty similar to Arequipa but a little different. Lots of people in Arequipa have properties of land which makes it hard to go to the church, since they buy those properties basically doing land prospecting, and waiting until the land has a mayor [greater] value. They go every Sunday by law of the group of prospectors to put things like water tubes or prepare the roads, or help build homes or I don't know what, but anyway, if they don't go, there is a fine. So basically they have to sell their property to go to church. Anyway I don't know why I'm explaining all that since it's not much of a problem here in Tacna! (or at least in Granados, the area we are in, since I remember that there was lots of those situations in Leguia where I was before, some 2000 meters from where I live now).

In divisiones, I went to my ex area this last Tuesday! It was great to be able to see some of the members, and family where we lived (remember the Bimbos distruibutores?), and we were coming back in the night from the ward counsel and we ran into Junior! That was about the oddest thing to ever happen. We passed him in the street and talked a second. Turns out he moved and has been in Lima, but by "coincidence" we found him just the day he was walking towards his house to get some of the last stuff he had left there. That was cool.

The members of this ward are so generous and loving with the missionaries. I think I mentioned this before, but they have us eating so good [well]. Eating with them like that is going to make me get really fat I think. I think I'm taking to a new level the test of how much food my body can ingress without fattening up much... Although right now remembering that first year at BYU with the all-you-can eat buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner and all-you-can- eat ice cream every Sunday... I probably am not eating as much as I was in that time. But I'm at the closest I've gotten here in Peru. They just love us so much. We try to plan so that more than anything else, the less active and new members can invite us, so that our prescence can be most beneficial. Does our ward do something like that?

We had a vision of how the missionary work will be in a few years. There is a book that we keep to register basically everything we do, which is called the Area Book. We realized that in a few years, that book is going to be on a laptop. Maybe it is now in the states, but there will be tons of benefits when that happens! We made 2 weeks ago a list of Former Investigatores which took quite a while, but if the area book were on a laptop in some program, that list would come out in order of street where they live or last name or first or how many times they went to church or how many visits were made or age or whatever the missionaries want in 2 seconds. Furture investigatores would be the same! Just imagine! haha I'm guessing that will be the mission of my children, but doubt Paul or Eric will be able to taste of that dream.... William maybe, no?

We've been finding people who have been more prepared this week! For example, Saturday we contacted a guy who asked if we were the Mormons who believed in the Nephites, Lamanites, and Jaredites. And told me all about how Joseph Smith received the gold plates. We taught 4 of his family yesterday (there are still 3 more to get to know in the next lesson). Yesterday we met a man who says he has been looking and looking for a church, and wants to be baptized, and has confidence that the Lord answers prayers because He always has answered his prayers. "I prayed for a 100% [grade] and He always gave me a 100% when I was in high school"

I really like being companions with Elder Beletanga. This Ecautoriano is crazy haha.

Love Elder Johnson

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

11 June 2012

Dear Family,
13 June 2012
This week we had the baptism of the family Delgado! Jonathan y Diana! That was such a great experience. They really felt the spirit in this week and have been able to be prepared by us and more by the Lord. They also got to be confirmed by us in the Ward Conference. I visited them in splits just before their baptismal interviews, and we reviewed everything. Jonathan said how a friend had criticized him for taking the decision to be baptized, but he had born testimony and that had quieted his friend. They are such a cool family.
This week has been fun, I learned so much. Elder Beletanga and I have personalities that work really interestingly together. He is really awesome. And Ecuatoriano who just loves to work. His legs (which are about 75% the length of mine) have a way to move so fast that I sometimes have to run to keep pace, but that’s perfect for me. Walking slowly just kills me.
I spent my birthday in Arequipa. The President planned conveniently the Zone Leader’s conference for my birthday so I got cake and everything. (just kidding that was a coincidence, but a great one. 
Thanks SO Much for all y’all sent me, I can’t wait to make that cake... the brown sugar will be a hard thing to find on the ingredients list. [I sent him ingredients for my chocolate chip cookies. . . but figured he could find brown sugar there. . . drat.]
I have really restricted time today... for something that happened. On the way here we passed a lady who was at the point of crying. We stopped and turned around and started talking with her. There are so many problems that come from living together. Elder Beletanga has an interesting way of seeing it. He says: Living together is like saying, "We don’t know if it will go well, so let’s fornicate, and if it goes well... we´ll make a home." He tells me how he feels particularly strongly about it, and seeing and talking with so many people who have fallen into that trap, I know that it is a wo of the people. It generates broken homes, disorder, men with children in all parts of the city, broken hearts, feelings of helplessness, and despair, as does all sin. Mosiah 2:41 gives us a vision of how the Lord wants our lives to be and the way to achieve it. Also Alma 36:1-3 and Mosiah 2: 22-24. Lets work so that everyone knows how to avoid these consequences! Almost everyone just does it because the rest do.
Love Elder Johnson

Monday, June 4, 2012

4 June 2012

Dear Family,
4 June 2012
This week has been pretty interesting. We had some cool experiences. President Fernandez came to Tacna, and got all Ilo, Moquegua and the two zones in Tacna together. We had a conference that was way cool. In part, we got Skype hooked up to the big screen for conference in the chapel and we listened to a training from Elder Godoy, the new 70 assigned to us. He called us from Arequipa, which is about 6 hours from here in bus. That was pretty fun, 21st century missionary training in part by skype haha. The President came with the Assistants, of course, who also taught. The theme I think was of repentance. The assistants spoke of obedience and the president spoke a bunch about the process of repentance. He talked about it inviting all to repent and to make their ways straight. I love it when he talks, he is really direct and powerful. He also talked about the work with the members. We should activate 5 people per month in addition to baptizing 5. In the last month we were able to meet the reactivation goal. This month is looking pretty good too. There are a lot of members who are really just waiting for someone to invite them back. And when they come back, just waiting for someone to ask them for references of friends and plans to start teaching them again.
In this week we also talked with quite a few families who stopped living the gospel teachings. The told us of all the amazingly sad problems they have had and we explained how if they start living again the gospel principles again, they will be able to find the peace they once had. I hope they can. There are, in our area, soooooooo many problems and if the people could just live the gospel, they wouldn’t have to pass through so many trials. And those that are left, they could feel able to beat the problem. Something that I noticed, was that the majority make the problem bigger than the solution. The solution should be bigger in our minds than the problem so we don’t drown in the idea of all that may be wrong and see how it can be right. I think that’s a hard thing to do for almost all though.
Since the President went to the stake conference in Arias Aregues, he and the assistants were here for the training to us Friday, meetings with leaders Saturday, and conference Sunday. The assistants didn't have much to do Saturday so they went over to us Saturday night and we did divisions in our area. I really, really liked it. Right now there are 3 Aasistants...I don’t know why, but anyway, Elder Beletanga went with Elder QuiƱones, I went with Elder Hatch and Elder Schneider (Elder Hatch is from my CCM room! and Elder Schneider started the mission in the same district I did so we were together there in Hunter the first time).
I really look up to them. They’re great leaders. I liked a lot the way they communicate as compaƱions. Always laughing and joking, taking it easy. We talked with a lot of ready people that night. And we talked to a family of forever investigators.
It is a family who have been taking the lessons for the last year. A whole year! A little more I think. I really don’t know why they haven’t been baptized yet, but when we got there (one other time I’ve taught them in my time here before the Saturday I went with the Assistants) when we got there, the husband, Jonathan bought us juice and crackers (which basically means they are sure converts). So, excited on seeing that sign, we started talking a little, verifying the homework we left them, and then we started with a prayer. Elder Schneider asked if there was anything in particular that he could pray for, since he was going to do the prayer, and the wife, Diana, said, "pray so that we can have the strength to unite ourselves with the Church" haha so that excited us more. We started and Elder Hatch asked why she had said that, and she told us all that she has been feeling in the church and how she wants to be a member. Then Elder Hatch asked the husband if he felt the same desire. He said: I do too.. I always feel so good when you teach us. I just feel some fear of doing it, like if I wont be able to fulfill all that will be expected of me. RIght then we all three were thinking about Alma 7:15. So we talked a little bit more, we read the scripture, and made emphasis in the first line, then we talked about an example: if the 5 of us could have been on the banks of the Jordan, and if we would have been there to see Jesus go down in the waters to John, and being perfect without stain of sin, be baptized. Then invite Jonathan to be baptized too, what would he do. Jonathan replied: "I would be baptized in that very moment"
We talked about how to beat the fear he feels, and asked him what he thinks he should do to beat that fear. He said: I think I should be baptized. Haha I was not expecting that. So we planned the baptism for this Saturday. So good was that lesson. 
I think that if we teach like that always, then we will have lots and lots of success.
A year ago, I did an baptismal interview of a person whom the zone leaders had taught. He definitely met with the conditions in D&C 20:37, coming with especially a broken heart for some things that had happened. After the interview I didn’t know more of him apart from the fact that he had been baptized.
The other day I was in divisions with some members. One with me and other with Elder Beletanga. I was talking with the member who is the 2nd counselor of the Quorum of Elders, and he told me he was baptized a year ago. We didn’t put two in two together until I told him that a year ago I was also here, and he said: “Wait, was it you who did my interview??. I thought a sec and remembered! We hugged each other happily. Haha. That same thing also happened with an investigator that Elder Erhard was teaching who I knew in divisions. We are going to teach him now again!
Elder Johnson