Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spanish Choir

Thank you for your dear elder dad, alondra, cara... the rest of your already know. Haha, ya saben. There are phrases I will say in Spanish that don't translate back to English.
I really am so grateful for the friends I have made here in the mission. And being in the office has let me meet a lot of great guys. There is a good sized group of us who will be going to BYU after. It just gives me so much happiness seeing the blessing of the gospel restored. And what do I do with all this happiness that gets built up inside me? Go share it! And spread the good news. Las buenas nuevas. The trials are hard too though. But the solution always comes if i put my trust in the Lord. I invite you all to put your trust in the Lord and endure through whatever trial you have. The morning will come, it always does. I love this church. Well you can all write me for next week and I will be able to share some cool experiences.

Oh, I forgot something. This next Saturday the Apostle of the Lord Elder Christopherson is coming to our mission! He will be at a bigger stake center for both the North and South mission. Our mission was given the assignment of making a choir! And President gave me the charge to find a choir, haha. We did auditions through the phone. And there is a cool Elder from Colombia who is like a profressional director. So we got it together and we will be singing Lead Kindly Light in spanish. I am standing next to Elder Josh Nilsen in the choir, haha. We have sung together at a baptism one time too. It is nice to have him here. So I will let you know how all that goes.

Love Elder Johnson

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Buenas Tardes

Mi querida familia, Muy buenas tardes, Espero que todo vaya bien donde estén. No tenemos bautismo esta semana pero la próxima esperamos que un hombre se bautice con sus dos hijos de 12 y 13 años. La esposa es conversa reciente. El tenía un desafío con alcohol así que oren por el y su familia.

They are reading the Book of Mormon as a family and the dad is reading personally every day and it is working miracles in their lives. I love when we go over and he explains how the Lord helped him overcome some challenge or temptation. He said "I'm not mad anymore. I don't get mad at my wife and my kids. I know this church is true." The spirit really can and does change hearts. I see it working through the lives of many people. It has been nice to be in this ward for almost 5 months because I have been able to witness the progress of our converts. Oscar and Vanessa are now both members. They have two little girls. They have a goal to be sealed in the temple next year around August 12th. Naybe that would be a good time to come down and visit? That would be so nice to go to the sealing with mom and dad and whatever brothers and sisters can. And it is cool that I will be in the mission to send them letters of encouragement up until June to help them reach their goal.

Oscar is a ward missionary now and goes out with us or the other secretaries on visits all the time. He is doing great. I am excited to be able to share all of these experiences when I return. I appreciate and am so thankful for all your prayers. I have made great friends here in the office too. Elder Cesar Hernandez is tha finance secretary. He is a great guy. And it is a blessing to be with Elder White. We have plans with a few guys to all go to BYU after. Elder Nilsen (we were already friends in BYU), Elder Carnese, Elder Applegate(the assistant), Elder White, Elder Warner, and more. Alondra was right when she wrote me that I would meet my best friends for life on the mission. But of course I don't forget about any of my friends from before the mission. I would invite all of them to come unto Christ. To read the Book of Mormon if you don't know in what to believe and to not deny more the reality of God, and the divinity of his son, Jesus Christ.

I feel more love for my family and desires to help everyone be active in the church. We are all in this together.

This week should be good. I had to get up early a few times this week with Elder White to go to the airport for one or more reasons, haha. Being secretary has been such a blessing. I am a better missionary, a better teacher, and a better friend and disciple.

I hope all is well wherever you are.

Love, Elder Johnson

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Changes coming soon maybe

I hope all is well wherever you find yourself. I cannot be more thankful for the opportunities that I have been given as a missionary to learn and grow. An interesting thing, and I'm sure those who have gone on missions have experienced this, is that everything I learn, I feel like I knew before and I can't imagine being able to get along without that knowledge or experience.

Oscar Marshall (27 years) was baptized last week with Michael Sciníca (23 years). It was really nice. And Oscar received the priesthood on Sunday and will be baptizing his wife tonight.

I feel like I am leaving soon from this sector. Apart from the fact that I am already training my replacement as secretary (Elder White from my MTC group) I feel it in my heart. It's like the Spirit is calling me away to a different part of this city, or country. But I think I will be staying in Guayaquil. All I know is that it will not be longer than 3 more weeks. That's what President told me, but it could be sooner. Haha, time certainly keeps rolling forward.

We are really trying to advance the work here in Guayaquil. The people are open to listen, I feel like sometimes it's the missionaries themselves who limit the potential of growth. I have come to realize and feel in my heart that this is the most important work that there is. I will be sure to find some way to preach the gospel for the rest of my life. The Book of Mormon is a key in all of this. No other book will lead us to the tree of life like this one. If you are not reading it regularly, I invite you to do so.

It is fun to be with Elder White. We played on the same soccer team in the Peru training center and we were remembering a few goals we scored against real soccer players, haha.

I am so grateful to have you all as my family. I am ready to keep the momentum going for the rest of my mission, and the rest of my life. I really didn't expect to learn so much out here, I think part of that comes from not limiting myself to any expectations. Big goals are good. Never limit yourself. That was one of the things that Elder Pino from the Seventy stressed with us. He also taught us a little about grace. And wow, the secret to receiving blessings in life is so simple. Just try your hardest to keep the commandments, and then grace will replace what you can't do and you will receive the blessings with time and patience. And your capacity to obey will increase, meaning a greater effort is required to receive grace. We do this until we arrive at full conversion. And then on till the end. :) Don't worry, be happy.

Love, Elder Johnson

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guesseppe Part 3 kind of

This week has been so busy. Elder Rafael Pino from the 70 came to our mission! And we as the office made sure everything worked out. He interviewed me and my companion personally! It was really nice. He sends his regards to you guys and says thank you for all the support you give me. I thank you, too. Apart from the fact that we are all in this true gospel together I have your prayers and your support that really gives me strength daily. The last thing he told me was something like "Never get tired of doing good". I love that line. Paul says it a lot. And so did Joseph Smith. It is such an important principle. The end hasn't come yet, and we must keep working and doing what's right, forever. Elder Pino said in one of the conferences that after the mission we would see the success of our mission in the manner in which we live our lives. I am so grateful to have a father and two older brothers who all served with honor. And great uncles as examples too. I hope to apply everything I am learning for the rest of my life. I plan on it.

 Oh, a new missionary came this week, Elder Martinez, who met Uncle Barry and is Krista's friend. We spent some time together because he arrived the night before the rest of the new missionaries. It was nice to hear him tell me that Uncle Barry reads the blog. I forgot about the blog but I felt the love of the family and all my family in all parts, especially Utah. Bradley will be coming home soon right?

 Geussepe is such a great kid, this whole week we haven't been able to see him but he has been going to the chapel daily for seminary and went with the ward to do baptisms in the temple. I was so happy when he gave me the news. I understand more of the joy that comes from helping others receive the restored gospel. Hopefully we can still get people to come to church tomorrow. We hardly haven't had any time in the sector. Enjoy summer break everyone! And be safe.

Love, Elder Johnson
 P.S. Wow, I have met the whole presidency of the South American Northwest area, Elder Pino, Elder Uceda, and Elder Waddell. Such a privilege. You can just feel that these men figured it out on their missions and applied it for the rest of their lives. Blessings and challenges and more blessings await those who enter this road with all their heart. I invite all to join in.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Geussepe Part TWO! and other miracles

Dear Family,

We had the baptism and confirmation of Geussepe Patiño. He is such a great guy. He had been waiting for the gospel and nothing could stop him from receiving it. It was interesting and a little bothering to see how Satan tried to stop him from being baptized. That guy just doesn't quit, ever. Just gotta keep giving him the good ol' 1, 2 (boxing reference, haha). Geussepe was a boxer. On Wednesday night Geussepe had his interview with the Bishop to receive the Priesthood. Remember Antonio Lavayen? The old guy who was baptized a few weeks ago. He also received the Priesthood and last Sunday helped prepare the Sacrament with the Bishop. Our plans with some other people fell so we won't be having any baptisms until the 4th of August. There is a new couple that we found while looking for a street contact we had made. They are already married! It is nice to hear him (Oscar) explain how things in his life that have happened have prepared him and his wife to join the true church right now. They are both excited to come to church tomorrow and keep preparing to be baptized. He asked if his tattoos were a problem and my companion told him to leave them in the past and not get any new ones, and that men don't wear earrings. The next visit he had a long sleeve soccer shirt on and had taken out the earring and he let us know that he is trying to live better the Law of Chastity. He had already given up things that would have been a trial for him with the Word of Wisdom. What I can see is that the Lord has prepared him to receive the fullness of the Gospel. As I accept more fully my call to invite an increasing number of people to come unto Christ by helping them receive the Restored Gospel I have been allowed to see how the Lord works in the lives of others and if I am willing, how He can use me to reap what has already been sowed. I can't use the fact that I work in the mission office as an excuse to not have success in the mission field. Bringing others unto Christ and watching them repent is what gives me the greatest joy, not the office work, haha. 

But I would like to share a little office miracle: I recognize that it is an honor and a privilege to serve the other missionaries as President's Secretary. It has given me a lot of opportunities to see the inside of how a mission is run, and also how perfectly organized the church is. My testimony of this work has grown in ways it might not have had I not been given this assignment. Can you believe I already have 4 months in the office? I believe that time goes by faster here. The more I talk with Elder Carnese who is a zone leader right now in Machala, the more I realize how precious this time in the mission is. I already bought his plane ticket home, haha. He told me that time only goes by faster and faster as you get to the end. Was it like that for you guys? Well, I can attest to that as without me noticing I am finishing my 13th month. Some people say that it is not a good idea to count that time that you have left as a missionary. But I like the way my mission president  looks at it. He loves that quote from Pres. Monson about us measuring ourselves to be able to progress and get better. 

"Cuando el rendimiento se mide, dicho rendimiento se mejora. Cuando rendimiento se mide y se informa, el ritmo de mejoramiento se acelera." 

When you measure yourself, you get better. When you measure yourself and inform on your progress, you get better faster. 

I testify that this is true. In our prayers we daily express to our Father in Heaven the things we do and have done. I have come to appreciate so much the relationship I have with my parents. Dad and mom. Me, always talking to you guys about the things I was doing and working on and informing you about my progress and sharing experiences helped me get better and have success in the things I did as a child and teenager and even at BYU. That is key in being a parent I think. That relationship with your children and I am glad that we have that relationship. We are so blessed. What was I getting at...

Well, I can see that my time is short as a missionary and I want to become the best disciple I can before I get released as a full-time missionary. I have hopes of always being given opportunities to share this Gospel with those I love and know, and those who I will get to know. 

I've been going through the conference talks on P-day and with some few free minutes at night. I am so glad I studied about speed reading before I came out here. Read Moroni 7 and you may realize how key it is to study the modern revelation on our road to discipleship and clinging to everything that is good. 

Well, I'm running around in the things I am saying. (aka I am rambling.)

We need to find new people to have a good program built for August. My mission President said I may just end the year here in the office. It just means I've still got things to learn. Every time I learned something new or got over a challenge a change came in my mission that put me in a new situation. Being secretary I get new situations almost every day. Read the talks from General Conference. These eternal patterns of learning and growing that God has given us are essential to our salvation. We've just got to want it. 

So pray that the people here in the downtown part of Guayaquil will have that wanting deep inside to learn more about their Creator. And then pray that I will be able to recognize them with my companion Elder Mauricio. 

Wow, I totally forgot to share the miracle. Okay, so in the finance secretary's office there is a safe. It is green, and old looking, but the old looking kind that looks like it could survive a nuke. So we don't lock this thing. We just shut it. No one even bothers to mess with it. We keep the missionaries passports there. So Elder Hernandez, the finance secretary, put a document there that he was saving for something. Turns out that he needed that document and when he went to open the safe it had been locked!

Now Elder Carnese gave me the code but we never practiced opening it because he said it was really hard and better to leave it open. Let's just say we were a little worried because he really needed that document!

So I start messing with the lock. Luckily Elder Carnese has a cell phone since he is a zone leader and he gave me some instructions. It wasn't working. We all tried. Then everyone left and it was just me and Elder Hernandez. I really wanted to leave the office because I was going to have a lesson with our recent converts and investigators in the chapel with some members too. So I did as mom taught me. I prayed. Mas o menos and it still didn't open. Then I stopped, and thought about the situation more. I examined the dial and noticed that it was a little loose. The little line that points to what number you stop on would jiggle to the left or right. I moved it to the right and held it where it looked like it should go. Didn't work. Then I said the most specific prayer with the greatest desire so I could leave and teach. The words came into my mind to turn the little arrow thing just a little to the left, not all the way. So I did, and then the words guided my hand as I turned the dial. Finishing the combo we heard a loud click. I was sure it worked. I went to open it and it didn't open! Elder Hernandez came around and said he thought I had to turn it just a little more and he began to turn it and CLICK. Even louder. My hand shot to turn it open and it opened! We were so happy. And we got on a bus and to the sector in time to teach a great lesson to everyone who was there waiting for us. There are no little miracles. Search the scriptures every day. 

Elder Johnson

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Geusseppe Part One

Dear Family,

This week has gone really great. I only have about 8 more minutes to write because we are going to have a baptism today. :)

So we are cutting short our P-day a little. But thank you so much for all your prayers. I will tell you the story of Geusseppe Patiño.

So one day we were walking through this apartment building. We were looking for a guy named Bryan that we had met. He had told us that he really wanted to be baptized but has always had trouble being able to go to church because of work. He's a young, single guy of 25 years about. Well this time when we were looking for him it would have been our second visit with him. In the first visit he mentioned a young guy who is 17 years old who lives with him because his family kicked him out. He told us his name was Geusseppe and that he didn't think he would be that interested but we could give it a shot if we ever ran into him. 

So after knocking on the door for awhile and realizing that no one was there we started walking away and going to the stairs since the elevator was under maintenance. A teenager passed by us and as he passed I felt the impression that this kid was Geusseppe.

"Hey Geusseppe!"

He paused, stopped and turned to look with a confused look on his face. 

"You're Geusseppe, right?" I asked him. 

He kept staring.

"Your friend Bryan told us a little about you. We wanted to meet you."

He finally smiled and asked how I knew it was him. I told him I just felt it and he let us in and we taught him real quick at the door and he accepted to be baptized.

We lost contact for about two weeks. He was never there when we got there and we were getting back a little late from the office for changes and things that were going on. On Sunday a member kid tells us that he saw Geusseppe and he had complained to him that we never went back. 

So we went back of course. He has come to church three weeks in a row and made friends with the local members. We have helped him understand God's laws and plan and he has a strong testimony of the Restoration. Pray that everything goes well tonight with the baptism and tomorrow with the confirmation. 

We are being really blessed and I know your prayers are part of it. What a privilege we have to be members of this church. Sometimes it is hard on me to realize how many people are not members. But it gets me to get up and work harder. I am starting to use my head more and our plans are not falling through. May the Lord bless each of you in your personal road to discipleship. We are all in this together. Go out and open your mouth to share the beautiful truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He lives and directs this church. Love you all, I'll share some cool stories next week and be glad to hear yours. 


Elder Johnson 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Short & Sweet

Dear Family,

Let's see how I can make this meaningful in a short amount of time. We finally kind of had a P-Day today so we spent some time relaxing in the house. We had our baptism last week! Antonio, an older guy of 65 years. It was great. We are working with a few different sets of people and families. It's been a little difficult to find the time for everyone, but we had a really good planning session today and so this next week can bring forth much fruit with a lot of prayer and diligent seeking. One has really got to work like a machine here. I know the Lord will help us here in our sector. We are starting to work better with the members. The Bishop's first son just left on the mission and they are already missing him, ahha. Have a Good Week!

Elder Johnson

P.S. We should have a baptism if everything goes well this week so pray that our plans follow through! :)