Monday, August 20, 2012

20 August 2012

Dear family,

AAHHHHHHH this week has been pretty great. We didn't do splits with the missionaries because we decided to take a week to focus on our area, so that the example could be a little better, and it worked excellently. We raised almost all of our records as companions, we found more in one week than I've ever found in the mission, we had 8 investigators in sacrament meeting, and an excellent coordination with the ward leaders to help them all feel great and at home there (all the investigators were grabbed and loved immediately after the prayer and taken to their classes). That was way cool. To make that happen we wrote on some little sticky notes a little note to the leaders of each organization about the investigators who were there for their classes, and gave those to the brother who is secretary, who passed it to them. 

We had a little miracle with the family Chita. I don't know if you remember that, but we had a while ago a really cool family who we were teaching, but the dad never wanted to come down from the second floor or talk with us, nothing. We were planning one night and the thought came that we should go back to them to find them. So we passed by unannounced one afternoon, and we found the mom, a few of the sons, and all at once the dad drives out of the driveway! (they have a wall between the lawn and the driveway, and the street -- which is a really rare feature, even rarer than having a car even though he isn't a taxi driver ---- He didn't stop to talk, but we passed a few mintutes with the mom making plans to pass by his bookstore to get to know him, and he got back with his daughter! He parked outside and walked past us and we were able to talk with him! We did our best to get his confidence and we agreed to visit him with his wife Sunday.

Sunday I went in splits with Hermano Dueñas. It was a very, very spiritual lesson. First Hermano Dueñas shared his whole conversion story. He also was Catholic 20 years ago, and he shared about how much he was able to change his life becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. He bore testimony as a father, who let the gospel into his house, and I bore testimony as a son, who grew up with the gospel in the house. He was touched, and promised that before we meet again, he will KNOW that the Book of Mormon is true.

I can't write even the hundreth part of what happened this week.

This morning, reading Words of Mormon as part of my Book of Mormon estudio [study] for the 8th time in the mission I FINALLY understood how the whole 116 pages and the small plates and large plates thing works. Haha. Took me long enough. I thought I understood before, but now I really do. 

Love Elder Johnson

Monday, August 13, 2012

13 August 2012

Dear the family,

Esta semana ha sido una semana hermosisima [This has been a most beautiful week]. We were privileged to presenciate [witness] the baptismal service of our friend Savino Mayta. It was really really especially pretty because we were able to plan with a member of the sumos [High Priests] who sang with his wife and he played guitar a hymn. Also that a there were quite a few people there (after this picture, an activity ended and a bunch of people came). It was also very pretty because afterwards, his two children were able to talk. I was a little unprepared for what they shared. His son, who has 26 years, shared the history of the church in his family. He shared about how his mom was baptized about 30 years ago and how he was baptized 2 years ago and how for a year they were going with their mom and his sister who was baptized at the same time.

They had fallen away from activity a year ago, and like I wrote last week, had decided as a family to come back to the church, even with the Dad who still wasn't a member. He had been thinking that he should be baptized "the day Christ was born, the 25 of December," or that's what they told us. He had held firm that view and thought until last Sunday. Last Sunday was fast Sunday. His daughter had talked to the bishop the week before, and the gospel principles teacher had also mentioned the power of fasting.

His daughter, who is about 30, when she talked at his baptism told of how she had met with the bishop and expressed her desires that in the next trip the ward does to Lima (a 22 hour bus ride) she wants to be sealed with her family. Our marvelous bishop told her how great that idea was, and that it would be important that he can be baptized this month, so that he can complete the one year preparation before the ward trip next August (the whole ward is really excited for the trip of this year, which is going to be the 27 of this month!).

She told us that she became worried, and mentioned to her dad that he should be baptized this month to be able to make the ward trip and be sealed all, he resisted and stayed with the idea of December for his baptism. So, was quite worried. But she remembered the counsel of the bishop and of our gospel principles class teacher. She decided to fast. She said in that baptism that she had never fasted before, and she knew it was going to be hard since at 6 she always gets really hungry. So to keep her fast, she decided to go to sleep. haha. In the morning she said she woke up with a strange sensation. She wasn't hungry, she just felt good. They went to church, they ended their fast, and we went to visit them in the night. That was last Sunday.

While there, just like I wrote last week, we read with him some scriptures, and had planned to invite him to be baptized for the 11 of August.

We read Alma 7 and analyzed it, and the spirit started to work in him. He decided to be baptized and now we know why his daughter was so emotional about that decision. Her fast was answered. They will be able to go to the temple with the ward next year!

Telling that story she got quite emotional and expressed her great great happiness. It was amazing to see that we had been involved in the Lords answering her fast. Good to be worthy of being part of answering a fast.

After his baptism, he invited the 30 or so people who were there to his house to share some food, and they were really worried because there were way way more than they were expecting. But it was somehow more than enough. 

Also, Sunday, we were in the sacrament meeting praying and praying that the Lord could bring his chosen children to church. The two ladies who were going to be baptized next week didn't come for some reason. We have got to find out about how to help them. Anyway, after talking with an investigator who is struggling to get married to be able to make his cohabitation relation after the manner of the Lord and be baptized, we went to the Gospel Principles class. The teacher came up to us excitedly and said: "Elders, this is Sandra, she wants to be baptized." I about fainted.

God answers prayers.

She is the friend of a member. She went to church years ago but never was baptized, and stopped going at some point. But she came yesterday with the desire to change her life once and for all and be baptized. It should be soon her service.

That's all the time I've got.

Love you all,
Elder Johnson

Monday, August 6, 2012

6 August 2012

Dear Family

I was just working on a letter for Paul, and basically I was writing him some things I would have liked to understand at the beginning of the mission the Lord has given me, and it just is a little sad that the time I have here is coming to a close. What can I do? Work the best I possibly can, no more. Well I shall.

One of the things I'm writing him is about the lesson we had with Brother Mayta last night. A few weeks ago I think I related the experience we had finding the family. The week before we met them, the children (23 and 28 years old) and the mom, had decided to activate themselves in the gospel once more. Quite some time had passed since going to church. So we were contacting in a store one Saturday, and we introduced ourselves to two cousins who entered in. They said the did know some members, they had family who were members, who actually had been talking about activating themselves. So we excitedly asked if we could meet them that same night and one of the cousins called them on the phone, and they accepted. We went straight there. Turns out, they had been praying and asking if they should go back to church. They got an answer that they should.

The dad wanted to guide them too, just like a dad should.

We were talking with him last night, and he had the plan to either be baptized at 106 years, or in december... but we read Alma 7, which is so powerful. He decided to be baptized the most soon possible (how is that phrase again in English?.. lo mas antes posible). And that will be next saturday. It was soo cool, after we talked about the commandments and all, he looked to his delighted recently reactivated family and said, our lives are going to take a 180 degree turn in this very moment. We are going to be more loveing, united, and we are going to do all the things right! He looks to his wife, "we are going to keep the sabbath day: 6 days ye shall work, and the 7th ye shall not!" (she's been teaching Sundays, but has been trying to change her schedule with the help of her husband's pushing haha.)

That was awesome. A dad leading the family towards Christ. Sadly that isn't the way all families are, many times it's just the mom.

Also, we have been visiting another family. One  member of the family (26 years old) told us Saturday that she has determined to be baptized. We explained to her the commandment and the blessings of the sabbath day because she was expressing that she has just two months more to pay off the loan she took out to get the internet cafe she has, but shes a little worried. She said how could I sanctify the day if I have to pay it on time and there are less people comming than usual. We told her how the Lord would protect her and with a smile said, ok, Ill do it then I'll sanctify the Sunday!

October is a great month for teaching adventists and seventh day people... sadly I won't be in the mission.

I'm working as hard as I can, and I'm going to learn to do more because I really want to be able to find those children who for so long have been waiting.

Renzol Vallejos keeps teaching dancing. He has come up with an idea of having a fun class with the members, and maybe incorporating it into the institute program as service (he has two things he loves in life: the church, and dancing). He went with us to a service project with a less active member who came to church this sunday! We were able to activate 3 people this sunday!

Juana Zoyla Gonzales who was baptized 2 weeks before him got her house sold! We had promised her blessings specifically about the house she so despereatly needed to sell as result of her baptism. She's happy as can be. 

Sadly, I had writen more but I got a blue screen of death and google must have failed with their automatic save system since only a little was recovered,, forgive the shortness!

Love Elder Johnson

Sunday, August 5, 2012

30 July 2012

Dearest Family and Friends,

This week has been one of learning so much. We got to see the baptism of Renzo Vallejos! He is really just amazing. His baptism was 12 days after we came to know him for the first time. He's quite famous. He and his twin are dancers who are known by almost all young people in the city of Tacna. He is so famous in part because he represented all of Tanca in a dance contest that was held in the capital of Peru, Lima, a few years ago. Quite a few members have asked us if he is the same one they saw on TV those years ago. Haha. He's a natural at sharing the gospel too. Just like converts do, he talks about the pure joy of living the Gospel.

He came to church where we met him 15 days ago with a friend, who also is a recent convert. He said she talked about the church with the same passion and love that he frequently talks about dancing. That really suprised him, that someone could be so passionant about church, so he went. He loved it. We visited him that night and invited him to be baptized for the 28th, and he realized he was feeling the spirit so he said yes! I'm going to read a ton of this book. I'm going to go to church next week, and Ill be baptized the 28th. He teaches dance classes in a gym and he had the oportunity to invite his students to his baptism. Three came! His dad came. He also anounced it by facebook to his doubtlessly many, many facebook friends. Saturday turns out was a stake activity, so we pushed it up to Friday. It was very pretty [a spanish-ism]. He testified of the truth of the gospel for the first time. 

In the stake activity, we did a tour of the chapel for the investigators who were there. We coordinated with the family history buffs, Sunday School buffs, and had a part in the chapel. We gave them DVDs of Finding Faith in Christ. It was a cool tour, but we had less help from the members than we thought we might get... we are gearing up to do it again with more coordination so that all the members can invite and we can have a crowd of hundreds of investigators! Everyone just has to talk like Erika Hurtado, the friend of Renzol (featured in the picture on the far right of the camera. He is the second person that she has invited to church (of the many she assuredly invites) in her few months of being member who has been converted.

My studies in general are becoming something so special. This morning in particular. I finished up Ether and went into Moroni. I don't know, but never have I really understood the situation in the which Moroni was in. Elder Uceda when he was here mentioned a little about Moroni's life and I realized when I finished Ether, that Ether had lived a very similar life. Reading Moroni 1 - 6 was really interesting, remembering all the Elder Uceda taught about it, and then Moroni 7 just hit me like a train. It was a very spiritual experience. I love the Book of Mormon. It is such a special book. When I read it, I often feel like the pages shine with celestial glory as I read and understand God's plan for us and the direction he is willing to give us. I wish all the people in the world could learn that reading the Book of Mormon generates spiritual experiences. How can I do that better? How can I help the people to do so?

We talked with some missionaries of another faith for a while two days ago. We helped them clear up their doubts about a closed canon and testified of the truth of the Book of Mormon. What made me sad was that they decided to go right then, and that right before leaving, they expressed a doubt that I think is common to most protestants here: All the other churches have members who also say that God directs them there.... how can you know then? I simply said: "Ask and you shall see." But he didn't get over that wall of faith. I don't know, but I hope he can remember the testimonies of my companion and I and put Moroni's promise to the test. It always proves true. I ask every day after my feasting of the Book of Mormon. I love doing that so that when I teach in the day, I don't have to say, well you see when I was 8, I asked and the Lord responded 13 years ago.

After reading Moroni 7 this morning, with the spirit burning in my heart and mind, I knelt down to give thanks to the Lord for that holy book. I told him how thankful I was for being in the mission and for Him having woken me up to the things of God, and then I asked that by the Holy Ghost he might confirm unto me the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and in that moment, the Spirit that I was already feeling was amplified and clarity was added to what I was feeling. The heavens passed close in that moment. I know the Book is true, and that it brings us to Christ, because it brings me to Christ, and I will share that with all the people I can today.

Love Elder Johnson