Monday, December 26, 2011

Things to do before the year ends

-Read the whole Book of Mormon in Spanish (voy por Alma 50)
-Learn how to teach the doctrine of the restoration in a way that can't be denied. Talmage is helping me with that. -Write something more meaningful my journal.

Dear Family,
I have got a lot in my head. I hope that what comes out today will be of use to your lives and your testimonies. I invite you all to learn how to speed read. There is something that happens to the mind when it is done. What is read is explored by the deeper part of the mind and new insights are given. I would describe it as "pondering in the moment." The scriptures are opening up to me in a way I never thought possible. The time I spent before the mission trying to learn how to speed read wasn't in vain after all, haha. I think I am reading better right now in Spanish than I ever could in English. I think part of it has to do with the grammar of the Spanish language. It flows better with the mind, haha. (It's funny how I'm getting a red squiggly line under every word I type because this computer is in Spanish.) Anyway, I want to shout through the computer so that you will all read the Book of Mormon. I love the words of Alma as he describes faith and its growth into a pure testimony and how we can apply it to the things of God and this world.

¿Y no es esto verdadero? Os digo que sí porque es luz, y lo que es luz es bueno por que se puede discernir. The Book of Mormon is true because it is light. It teaches man to do what's good. I'm not sure how to describe in English pero lo que es luz es bueno. Dios existe, esta es la unica iglesia verdadera. It's got to be so obvious. Just read the history! I'm going to try to teach the people here of the false tradicions of their fathers as the sons of Mosiah did with the Lamanites. And they did it using the words of Christ. We've got to search the words of our dear prophet. What he said in this last conference will have a deeper meaning as we are not to cast our pearls to the swine. With the spirit we will be able to find the deeper meaning. Let's learn this lesson now. Learn wisdom in thy youth. God will open up our minds to the truths of this world if we are willing to learn them. Doesn't that get you excited to learn? I know I don't have any of my science books here, but there is a Joseph Smith translation that says the key to science is the fullness of the scriptures.

I'm grateful to be a missionary, I love you all with all my heart. Search the prophets. Merry Christmas and a HappyNew Year! Make some goals and let me know what they are so I can pray for you!

Elder Johnson

Monday, December 12, 2011

Looking Forward with the Eye of Faith

This phrase had me thinking a lot this week. Well, in Spanish.
Hey I forgot to say thank you to Alondra and Kelli and TJ, I got your dearelders!

Dear Family,
I want to relate some great experiences I have had this week. I kind of spoiled myself. I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hot chocolate and toast, and we had a baptism and confirmation.

Karol Silva was baptized and confirmed. She is 18 years old. One day a few weeks ago I was looking in the area folder and a name stood out. It said to talk to the Vallejo family and to contact the reference. We had lunch with them but they said they didn't know the reference. So instead of giving up we went looking. The first door I knocked on was answered by Karol. I asked her if she had listened to missionaries before and she said no. We left her with a pamphlet on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a meeting...

Gosh, I can't speak in English. Or write it.

We taught her and met the rest of her family. She was baptized and her mom will be baptized this Saturday. We have a goal of 5 baptisms this Saturday. Pray for everything to go well. This just shows that the Lord prepares the people and we just have to follow the Spirit. If I am being obedient and worthy, the feelings and impressions I get are from the Spirit. That is the faith I have. I know it's true. Learn to have that confidence with the Spirit. Life is great. I love it here.

So I spoiled myself and opened the other Jiffy creamy peanut butter. Sooo good. I just wanted to thank everyone who has ever made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I'm pretty sure I can count all of you with my two hands, just know that I am thankful. Especially my Mom and Christian.

MMmm hot chocolate and toast. Twice this week. Helped me sleep like a rock. The first time eating and drinking the hot chocolate I almost started crying because I began to think of Abuelita and how she ate her hot chocolate and toast. I felt her love. Did I tell you I had a dream where I talked to her in Spanish?

Let me tell you about a guy named Johnny. One afternoon Elder Ludlam and I are walking down a street. Big smile on my face as I look at the clear sky and sun...

"Hey, mister!" calls out a tall black guy.
I approach and Elder Ludlam follows.
"Hey, how's it goin?"
"Uh no sé jaja solo un poco ingles."
"No se preocupe amigo yo hablo los dos. ¿no ha hablado con misioneros antes?"
"No nada más que "hey mister" porque siempre siguen caminando."
"Bueno, ya es tiempo que escucha."

So this was a contact left with a pamphlet of the Restoration. We went back a few nights later for the visit but he wasn't there and there were just drunks there. We passed by another time a couple weeks later and he was there and we set a new visit. We passed by the next night for the visit and he wasn't there. Then weeks passed and I have a new companion and a couple nights ago we put him in our plans. We show up and he is there and we teach him the first lesson and he is golden. Persistence. Talk with everyone. I love this work.

Elder Johnson

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Week of Growth

Dear Friends,
I am asking this part to be posted especially for my friends. Friends, Hi! I would like all of you to know I am doing great here in the suburbia of Guayaquil, Ecuador. While walking the streets of Los Angeles or Van Nuys I never felt unprotected or scared, though sometimes there might be reason to feel so. But I have never felt more protected in my life and I've never walked around with more confidence. You guys need to know that God exists, for those of you who are still doubting. I'm speaking to you, as a voice that cries from the dust. Jesus Christ lives.

I hope my friends from Van Nuys are doing great. Arman, you listening? Use your bright mind to find the truth. Read the Book of Mormon. Investigate. And be happy. Love you.

Dashawn, I hope Spencer told you what I told him to tell you. It's a bit difficult to get a letter off. I don't use a lot of time here to think about things back at home, I'm sure there's been some changes. I've been gone for almost half a year.

Hey everyone, I really appreciate DEARELDERS, it's nice to hear about people, I won't promise i'll write back but I will promise a prayer in your behalf.

Dear Family,
Wow, time really does fly doesn't it? Alondra, thank you for sharing the picture of everyone playing Dominion. Haha, I can see Spencer is enjoying the laptop. Did he have music playing? (Yes, he did! Christmas carols of course.)

Well this week has really been incredible. This was our first full week together as companions and we followed the weekly plan that we had done together. We had set some pretty high goals. And we fulfilled most of them. We worked really hard this week. And we aren't going to let down. I'm really thankful for my companion. He is willing to work hard and be obedient, and that is what we need in this work. Dad, again, thank you so much for your example of integrity you have shown me my whole life. I know I inherited at least some of that from you, and now my companion too. The other day he told me, "Wow, I now feel bad from breaking even a small rule." You and mom taught me how to work well within the rules and limits set. I've got to give credit to sports too, I learned how to work well, effective, and creative within the limits. Within the boundaries. I really appreciated a comment from Elder Alvarez when he told me that he really liked being my companion because he was being obedient, but didn't feel obligated, and he was enjoying his mission. We have grown close in just these 2 weeks. We really felt the spirit in our last weekly planning as we set even higher goals.

Our mission president is the best one in the World. He taught us a lot about faith through the zone leaders this last week. Familia Lucero es una familia aquí en el barrio. Elkin es uno de mis conversos, un chico de nueve años. La mamá no es miembro, y ella no ha aceptado una fecha bautismal. Dice que se quiere bautizar en enero. Bueno. Su hijo Kevin es miembro, tiene 19 años pero ha estado muy inactivo. Pero el es muy, un poco bago. Pero lo bueno es que él nos acompañó dos veces esta semana y ya se está activando. He reminds me of Bobby Rosen. I hope Bobby is doing well.

So there is a family on the other side of the chapel that we contacted a few weeks ago with Elder Ludlam. I found a name in the area folder and it stuck out so we went looking. We didn't find the person we were looking for and no one on the street knows them, but the second house I knocked turned out to be who God wanted us to find. The daughter, Karol, will be baptized this week and the mom, María, the next. And hopefully the dad the next. Pray for the Silva Family.

I bore my testimony yesterday in church. My fourth time doing it here in Ecuador. It was a very spiritual meeting, our investigators loved it. We are having more success than before and feel the help of God. We also feel the anger of the adversary. And you know how sensitive I can be to that. But we feel very protected here. All is well, let your hearts swell.

I love you all so much. I can't believe I've been gone for this much time but I don't feel like I've been away from home. Not even a little bit. I guess it's true what they say; home is where the heart is. Feel free to send another candy box!
Elder Johnson

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Companion!

So Tuesday we had training with our President. I was so happy to see familiar faces, especially the office missionaries and zone leaders and assistants. Me llevo bien con ellos. Our zone leader called us over and gave us the news. Elder Ludlam was getting transfered to Cuenca. I would be receiving an Elder Alvarez coming from Cuenca. Like a switch. We finished the amazing training and had to rush home to pack all of his stuff and get to the bus terminal. We had just relaxed for the next change and were not expecting a transfer. But I got my new companion that night and we only had time to meet with Bishop with my companion and a few other people.

Elder Alvarez is from Honduras. He is really cool, newer in the mission too. He entered in April. We are both happy with the transfer and are sure that it was inspired. We are both excited to do a lot here in Amazonas 2. I can't imagine me leaving here, honestly. It is definitely getting hotter. I've got two colors on my neck. White and tan. I still think it is so funny that my white friends call me Latino and my Latino friends call me white. Things haven't changed here with that. But I was happy when Elder Alvarez told me he likes my accent. He was talking to our ward mission leader about it and they said they thought I had a year when they heard me. Hopefully it will be better by the time I get to talk to you guys. It's funny because I can't turn it off now. I used to be able to zone the Spanish out if I didn't want to understand but now I can't really, well if they aren't mumbling. I've still got to work on vocabulary, that's where I'm lacking. It was funny because my new companion was talking about my accent with one of the families we eat with and they were laughing because they said that at first I didn't speak much and couldn't speak hardly anything unless it was about the gospel. Which is true, my words come from the scriptures and church magazines. Which is good.

I'm really happy with my new companion. Happy that he's Latino because that helps me with Spanish and culture. And happy that he's relatively new, because we can drop whatever expectations previous missionaries have and the sky is the limit. We want to be perfectly obedient to have the right to the Spirit and power, but we can already notice the adversary has decided to work harder too.

Love you all,
Elder Johnson

Monday, November 21, 2011

Family Photo

So the group pictures are me, my companion Elder Ludlam, with Elder Demke and Elder Whitney. Elder Whitney was in my first district in Utah, we've been happy to be in the same district this whole time. I didn't get transferred so looks like I'll be able to celebrate Christmas here in my first area! I'm happy about that. So is the ward and the Bishop. But the transfer ends the day after Chirstmas so I might be somewhere else for New Years.
Elder Johnson




Growing Faith

It's a feeling. To feel your faith grow. I love it. It is more clear to me now than ever before how necessary Christ is in our lives. The Book of Mormon is the cornerstone of our religion. Have you heard that before? There shouldn't be any doubt with anyone who has done any research at all about the Book of Mormon, that it is a true record. Knowing that fact, do you realize the power we can draw from that? Real power. Everything I am learning in my studies can be applied here in the mission field. The miracles, the healings, the baptisms... Pondering is a central aspect to let your faith grow. I say let your faith grow for a reason. Read Chapter 32 of Alma and I think you may understand better. When we submit to the influence of the Spirit, the will of the Lord, our faith grows. And we realize all the things we've been doing wrong. Repentance becomes a daily necessity and we begin to rely more and more upon our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is said that there is milk and meat when it comes to gospel knowledge, and that the meat is left to those with the exercised ability to discern between good and bad. A simple concept. simplicity is the highest form of sophistication. To learn to discern between the good and bad and then to choose the good. Do this daily and in a month you will see your progress. Don't be satisfied with your state, no one is perfect and we all have a ways to go as followers of Christ.
That had to come out, thanks for listening, haha. This week has been amazing. I'm still here with Elder Ludlam in Amazonas 2. Here is a picture of him and I showing my checkmate, he wasn't happy to lose, haha:


We are building our friendship and having more of the Spirit in our lessons. Had some really great lessons this last week and we will have a baptism this Saturday. Thank you for your prayers. I'd love to hear from my little siblings. Wow, can't believe it's already going to be Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for all of you. Do you know how great our family is? We have so much more than other people. I am trying my best to bring this gospel into the homes of these families here in Guayaquil. The first step is to gain their trust as a genuine friend and that starts with a smile. Thanks for paying for braces :)

I hope you are all growing in the faith. Don't be weary of good works. Talk to you soon!

Elder Johnson

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sweet Tooth

Mami no me digas que Jenna Bellita llora me hace llorar también jaja. ¡les quiero a todos! Me pueden conseguir los emails de los dos otros elder Johnson's? Muy amable, haha.

Wow, can't believe I just finished my second change in the field. It was a lot harder than the first. There is quite a difference in having a Latino companion and having an American. We aren't sure if there are going to be changes yet, the President does them on Wednesdays I think. so we'll see if I stay here in Amazonas 2 or if I leave. I had a dream that I was leaving last night. I didn't recognize the name of the place where I was going but I was excited. Most probably I will stay here with Elder Ludlam, but we'll see.

The ward here is improving a lot. The Priesthood is stepping up and working with the less actives more. We have a nice little group of people that help us leave on Sunday and gather all the people to go to church. I've been told by people that my spanish has also improved a lot. I hope to sound more fluent by the time I talk to you guys in December. That's the 6 month mark!

The time here goes by way too fast. I feel sad when I know we've lost time. We actually don't knock doors a lot. I don't know how you picture my day but I'll explain a bit:

So walking out of our house I'm hit in the eyes by the bright sun and sometimes a nice cool breeze. I look down the street and see the Catholic cathedral that dominates the street corner where we are headed to enter our sector. The streets are buzzing with lots of people and there are tents selling whatever kind of little thing you want from cell phone chargers to clothes and food and shoes. You can even find a Book of Mormon laid out to be sold. They don't know what they're selling. Haven't been able to talk to one of those vendors about the worth of the book yet.

We've got plenty of recent converts to visit and re-teach their lessons. Also a good amount of investigators and names of people we can teach. We make our way through the crowds smiling and waving at people as we go. I try to make eye contact and smile with as many people as I can searching for some feeling inside me that tells me to speak. We keep walking and the crowd thins and we are just passing a person or two as we walk. Eye contact, the feeling, it hits! "Hola ¿Como está amigo?" I start the conversation and get to know that person. If a person looks at me in the eyes and smiles back its a good sign that they are open to talk. The Spirit backs my own feeling up and I get the certeza that I need to talk to that person. We do this as we walk to our first appointment. The day goes on like that until it's over. Around 4 the weather cools down. It's nice to be in a house teaching during the hot hours of 2pm and 3pm. Lots of conversations on the street are started by a person shouting something out in English so I respond in English, see the confused look on their face, then laugh with them and speak in Spanish.

The people here are genuine for the most part. I really love them. I've got some really good friends in the men of this ward and with some investigators. I'm really good friends with a Colombian who owns a corner market. He gives us free juice every once in a while. Bottled juice, don't worry. He's got a really nice family but is pretty dedicated to his Cristiano church. His pastor told him we are dangerous but he says he doesn't feel that way.

I love my mamitas. Especially the one that washes my clothes. Sister Mejillones. She folds them so nicely and with love. The first time I received my clothes back I was so surprised I almost cried at how nice my clothes came back. I bought a pair of slacks in the store here for cheap. They were 30 in the waist and 36 length. I lost some weight, haha. Anyways I put them in my dirty clothes and they came back hemmed! She is so nice. She measured them with my other pants and hemmed them for me :) Her dog followed us all the way home once.

I had a dream I was leaving here, not sure how I feel about it. Vamos a ver.

I loved the candy so much!


Send more dear elders! Takes a month to get a package and a week or two for letters so keep that in mind. This is my home right now and I feel at home. I only miss you guys, my family, and our love for each other. It's something I want to teach the families here to have.

Les quiero mucho,
Elder Johnson

Monday, November 7, 2011

Did you bear your Testimony?

¿Como están ustedes? ¿sí me entienden? Les quiero bastante. La verdad es que me parece que yo estaba aquí ayer escribiéndoles. El tiempo vuela, de verdad. Estoy tratando de usar mi tiempo de la manera mejor. Es difícil. Pero es bonita ser guiado por el Espíritu.

I am learning a ton. These two years that I have here will not be put to waste. Thank you for the sacrifices made so that I can be here. I really love you guys. I should have shown it more while I was at home. Hearing that you guys played the "I love you because.." game brought back sweet memories. I am bringing this love that you, my parents, mommy, taught me into the homes of people here. This love that comes from Christ. Mom and Dad, thank you for being the best parents ever. I'm sorry I wasn't always the best son. I am trying my best to represent the two names encima de mi corazón. Johnson y Jesucristo.

It is so amazing to learn about Christ and read his words. What was I using my time for in high school? I should have spent more time in the scriptures. They truly teach of Christ. And it is through them that we get to know Him. Mediante el estudio de las Escrituras conocemos a Cristo. Así es más fácil decir, jaja. Have you ever opened the scriptures with a question and found your answer in the first verse that catches your eye? I have. It leaves you speechless.

We had lunch today with an investigator who is a really good Cristiano. He has a nice little family. He is from Colombia. We were talking and he told us what his pastora told him about us. "They are nice people, but they are dangerous. Their gospel is centered in John Smith." Well, that was a nice statement to testify against. He then told us he had had a dream about two angels coming to his house to take him to heaven. It was interesting. We had him read the last part of the last chapter of 2 Nefi. He was left kind of impacted and said "I don't know what to say. I have to read this book." Pray that he reads. Carlos Gomez se llama.

Church yesterday was nice. Did you guys bear your testimony? I did! Share it proudly, if it needs strength, share what you've got and go get more. The Book of Mormon is true. it's already been proven a billion times over in every aspect. Don't have any fear of sharing that. Perfect love casteth out all fear. You guys should try and get the Liahona from October. Es tremendo.

So at church I was talking to the president of the relief society. She said something really cool to me. She is one of our mamitas and gives us lunch every Thursday. She likes asking me to interpret or give her my opinion on her dreams, haha. She told me she had a dream that I was teaching a full chapel of people, new people that she didn't recognize. How crazy would that be? I have faith, we can do it. The other day we taught a bunch of the neighborhood muchachos in a classroom in the chapel.

My testimony in the scriptures has grown tremendously. You can literally find an answer to any specific question that you have. Just study with the Spirit. There are scriptures and verses that you would never have guessed were worded the way they are. I don't know if you understand what I'm trying to say. Just study the scriptures every day. ALL of them.

I love you all so much. pray for me to have more strength and faith to work miracles here. And pray for my companion Elder Ludlam.

I love you,
Elder Johnson

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Following the Spirit

Dear Family,

Today I would like to talk about something I have learned a lot about: Following the Spirit. I have been studying a lot about what it means to follow the Spirit, what it feels like to follow the Spirit, how to have the Spirit, and how to know if I'm following the Spirit. Answering these questions is something every member of the church with the gift of the Holy Ghost should investigate and answer for themselves. I'm sure it feels a little different for everyone but the miraculous results I believe can be the same.

I used the scriptures and some clues from last conference talks. I can put the talks on my mp3 player and listen! It is really nice while we are getting ready or eating. Anyway, something I took out of both of those sources of all knowledge is that the spirit guides through feeling. It talks about being guided by the thoughts the Lord puts in your heart, not in your mind. O see, how you feel. I have always been pretty good at doing what I feel like doing. When worthy of the spirit, this has led me to much success in high school and at BYU. This same manner of acting how I feel, walking where I feel like walking and saying what I feel like saying is what I am doing here on the mission. I have noticed that walking where I feel like walking here has run us into many members, investigators, and recent converts in the street or on the sidewalk. It is really awesome. That and also I have the confidence that the Lord knows who is in our path in that moment and I have the confidence to talk to them. Doing this we have found many new potential investigators and have algunas citas esta semana con ellos. This same feeling of joy I have as I walk where I feel like and say what I feel, is the same feeling I had at my year at BYU. It is nice to recognize now that I was following and had the guide of the Spirit. Randomly running into friends becomes something more than just a coincidence. My friend Josh Nilsen is here and is in Cuenca, the mountain city. How awesome is that? Learn what it feels like for you to follow the Spirit and life will flow with joy. And when the challanges come you get the chance to grow and change. I have learned of some things I need to change. Also, the scriptures can speak specifically to you. Hermosa experiencas he tenido aquí.

Les quiero mucho,
Elder Johnson

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sharing the Gospel through word & example...

Me and Elder Ludlam at the temple... 102_0460

Se bautizaron y se confirmaron Karla y Simone Vallejo. Son hermanas de edad 11 y 10. Su mamá es miembro, el papá not yet, y la hermana mayor not yet... 102_0460

Haha, they are a really good family with love in the home so we are going to continue with them. We met them first with Elder Alveño. They were in the house of Hna Vallejo who is our Wednesday Mamita for lunch. The dad is brothers with Hna Vallej's husband. The mom's are cousins. So that was like my first week in the field when we first met them and I just asked the dad in my early spanish if we could visit him and his family. Two months and some struggles later, the two younger daughters were finally baptized. The service was humble. The bishopric wasn't able to come because of an activity in the stake, so I directed the meeting and the Elder's Quorum President presided. Our friends from the other ward had to come with their baptisms also because there was no water in their chapel.

It's getting harder to write in English. I'm translating from Spanish sometimes. I've had a couple dreams in Spanish, where I came home and talked to mom and Tía Patti.

Okay, so we had all the baptisms in our small little chapel. We didn't have a microphone because we couldn't get into the bishop's office. But we did just fine. The mom of Karla y Simone asked me to sing "How Great Thou Art". I sang it acapella. This family had an older son about my age who died two years ago in a car accident. He was the only other member of the family who got baptized with the mom 14 years ago. So she was really happy, she doesn't like to show it though, haha. We will help them bring the love of the Gospel and eternal families back into their lives.

We're also going to teach another family in which the parents are members but the kids are not. The parents went inactive 12 years ago because the dad got back into drinking. That is a big problem here. But he is excited to get his family back into the church and we are going to bring the Gospel back into their home and get the two kids baptised. Success in the mission field comes from working hard and not stopping. I will always appreciate the examples of hard work from my family.

We want to move into the boundaries of our ward. We met an inactive member who owns some really nice apartments so we are going to talk with him tonight. We are going to have to get him to drop the price, haha.

It was really nice to hear about how everything is going. That's really cool about Michael crowning Spencer. My memories from how hard I physically worked in high school football and volleyball pushed me to walk faster and be more alert here in the mission field. My experience from BYU and chemical engineering push me to study better and more effectively and learn faster and retain what I learn. Like President Eyring said in conference "if you have a calling from the Lord you have been prepared for it". I know the Lord has prepared me to serve him here. I just have to accept His will and let him work through me. Sometimes my will gets in the way and I stop my progress. We must let Him help us grow. Accept challenges as a way to get stronger. This is the only true church with the authority and it is our duty as members to share the gospel through WORD and EXAMPLE. Both of them.

I love you all. We are going to have a good week. Always pray for me to have the strength to let the Lord help me get better. I will pray for you.

Elder Johnson

Monday, October 17, 2011

The fruits of the Spirit are clear: Joy, peace, and happiness

My new bag from the mission (my blue one is ripping from the weight)... 102_0460

Dear Family,
This week went by way fast. Well, it went really fast until Saturday and then the weekend had a lot more to it. Two baptisms :) Two young brothers, they're really nice. Their mom had been inactive forever but she gave a nice testimony at the baptism and will be returning to church. The grandma is the only faithful one of the family, but now she has her two grandsons. The service was really special, I shared my testimony and the story of how we found them and then sang "I need Thee every hour" in Spanish and in acapella. The piano cord broke so Elder Ludlam hasn't been able to share his talents yet. We use a keyboard here.

The weather has been especially pleasant, nice breezes throughout the day and not too much sun. I could live in this weather for the rest of my life. Guayaquil is perfect for me. I really don't have any time to write everything down before hand and then just come here and type it all out. We usually get home at 9:30pm and plan until 10pm. Then I write in my journal and brush my teeth and with all that it's 10:20pm and time to pray and get in bed. All the roosters in Guayaquil decide to converse at around 4am and don't stop their important discussion until after 6am. You learn to love it.

I love the families of this ward. They see our work and are beginning to help us more. One of my mamitas had stayed for the third hour the last two Sundays. That was a great success for me. She had stopped going to Relief Society for a long time, but now she goes with her daughter who just moved up from Young Womens. Elder Alveño and I had tried persuading her to stay all three hours without success, but this first Sunday of change we gave that class the second hour to all members. That was the first Sunday she stayed and this Sunday proved it wasn't a one time thing. We aren't just trying to bring new members to the ward, but to improve the quality of the ward as a whole. Person by person and family by family is how this works.

I learned something important this week. A lack of happiness, of excitement to work, or even depression, is something we can take as a blessing. It is a sign to us that we don't have the company of the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are clear: Joy, peace, and happiness. Galations 5:22 If we don't have these things we don't have the Spirit and we need to do something to get the Spirit. Most of the time that means we have to repent. Reconcile with God. Get your life in order with Him and then continue on in happiness. I know that the times when I haven't been as happy it is because of this. But I am happy to say that I am happy. I know Christ knows me and I am trying to work His will here. It's hard, but really I am a missionary of the Lord Jesus Christ and I can be better every day. This is my time to grow the most and I will not be coming home the same person. I want the change we see in Nefi before and after he gets the plates. How he considers himself. Alma 53 teaches us what it really means to be a man. I want to be a man of God and am so happy to say that my father is a man of God as well as my two older brothers. And my uncles. And mis abuelos. We are so blessed. I pray for your success while I'm gone, please be careful. Pray for the ward Amazonas 2. We can work miracles here with some more faith.

Elder Johnson

Monday, October 10, 2011


Don't confuse that with Chevy, though that is the car most driven down here in good ol´ Guayaquil. I think I will just have enough time for this email, sorry mamita, te quiero muchisimo. I appreciate hearing about you guys, I can't believe how much is happening. It's weird to think how long I've been gone. "Chevre" is a word only used here and means like "cool, awesome, sweet" so pretty much everything here is chevre. Haha.

I'll start from Monday. Dropped off Elder Alveño at a curb with another Elder who would be going home and said bye right there. I tried to give him a hug but he didn't take it, haha he was kind of a serious guy. It was comical. We took a cab and got to the terminal to meet the new companion, and as you know, it was Elder Ludlam from Washington state.

We started our work. It fell on me to direct the sector since I was the only one who knew where to go. I was so blessed to see everthing kind of fall into place. We had really great lessons and I commited 5 people to baptism. I can really feel the Spirit when I teach, it's a love and joy you really can't deny. Jacob 1:8 is awesome. I had my class with the members yesterday. Shared a lot of scriptures with them and got them excited to help in the work. "Gracias por recordarnos de nuestros deberes como miembros de la Iglesia de Jesucristo." one Hermana told me after. Haha, I wish you could hear my Spanish. I feel like I should have been able to speak my whole life, thank you for my genes mami :)

Little miracles happen every day here. The first day with my companion here we literally ran into someone from the church or an investigator at every turn. Sometimes I wasn't really sure where I was walking, haha.
I walk by faith not sight!

We had our two baptisms this week for Moroni and Douglas... 102_0460

And the 3 confirmations adding Elkin. Ages 13, 13, and 9. Moroni was named that because he was born in the church, but his mom had some big problems with people and hasn't been active for 12 years. She would never give the permission for him to be baptized because she didn't want her son to be a hypocrite in the church. Also he is a little hyper, so she said he's never been ready enough for a baptism. Well, the first miracle was her giving us the permission to prepare him for baptism. That was with Elder Alveño. Second miracle was the day before the baptism she didn't want to go through with it. I don't know what I said to her. Really I just told her the truth. I told her that I know Moroni has changed a bit since we've taught him. I told her we weren't going to stop teaching him after the baptism. I told her I could teach her son how to be a good son to his mom. I told her my mom taught me how to be a good son, and that I would teach Moroni to be a good son to her. She works all day for them, dad not there, and really she just has a lot to deal with. But she accepted. And told me I have a gift to convince. I feel with every fiber of my heart that the Lord directs this work and if we would just open up our mouths and say what is in our heart, so many more people would come unto Christ and participate in the goodness of God.

This week will be another week of miracles. Sorry I couldn't write a bunch but thank you for your prayers and letters. I do like letters. And Jenna looks so pretty :)

Les quiero mucho,
Elder Johnson

Monday, October 3, 2011

God loves you. Know it, feel it, live it.

My district saying goodbye to my companion... 102_0460
My weight rack for squats, hahaha.... 102_0460

Dear Family,

May I please say how much I love you all? Because I do.

My companion was telling me we can't write letters for the moment, so I may only have this email privilege and only to family. So I will publicly say thank you to Kelli and Dashawn for sending me Dearelders. I probably won't be able to write back for a while but thank you! Dashawn, I was number 23 junior year for football, so go ahead :) And Kelli that is so cool about Bloc Studios, I know all about them! Jk, but good luck!

I love hearing from friends, I want everyone to know how I feel about what I am doing. This is the most important thing I have ever done, and will ever do in my life. To be in the service of Jesus Christ, guided by the Spirit and trusting in the Lord and his designs is the most fulfilling thing and greatest blessing I could have ever asked for. Sadness comes when we don't recognize what Jesus Christ did for us. Investigate for yourselves what He did and you too will come to a knowledge of the truth.

This morning I woke up rather early and left my companion on the curb of a busy highway here in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Sad, but it's his time to move on from this part of life. My new companion is from Oregon/Washington and born in New York. He's got a year in the mission. It's been a long while since the ward here has had two Americans. For everyone who ever said I was Latino, I have to tell you that everyone here immediately recognizes me as a "Gringo" and not from the way I talk! I've got the best of both worlds. I love my Peruvian heritage and my good ol´ American heritage back to Sweden and Denmark. I feel such a love in my heart almost all the time and I think it comes from my family. All of my family.

We had a good last week of good hard work here for my companion. I was happy when he told me he had been praying before my arrival to get a companion who would help him work with everything he has been working on for his last transfer in the mission. I was even happier when he told me I had done that for him. I don't think I could ever be satisfied with myself if I didn't give it my all, all of the time. Now of course there are times when my body doesn't want to give, or I've got to force out the emotions of love and joy. There are a lot of things in this world that can get you down. But like our beloved Prophet said, "Es mejor mirar para arriba". (I listened to conference in Spanish) Look up, cheer up, God loves you. Know it, feel it, live it. We have divine potential. If you don't know that yet, study it, investigate it. Wouldn't that be something important to know about? Yes, it would.

No baptisms this week because of conference but we've got two scheduled for this Saturday. Everything can go according to plan if we look up. Just gotta try and get your plan in line with God´s plan and you'll see the finish line more clearly. Our planning sessions really are so important, they need to be inspired. I've got a little pressure this week to be able to plan every day out since I'm the only one who knows the sector. They never said it would be easy.

The mamitas here finally understand that I really don't eat a lot. It was really funny one day when I asked for a little bit and when me and my companion compared plates they were exactly the same. During lunch yesterday with a family, I finally got a plate with my "normal" amount of food and finished with everyone else on time. We were laughing about that. There are some really good families here in this ward. They just need a couple more good strong families and from there it can grow. We've got to teach the Doctrine clear cut and without shadow of doubt. Jacob in the Book of Mormon does it best ;) I really do relate a lot to his words, and appreciate them. Thanks for giving me the name Jacob, mom and dad!

Well, know that I'm having fun. Know that I'm working hard. Know that I'm sweating too much, haha. Nah, my body is just really good at cooling itself off, that's why I use less gas (food). I love this work. I'm excited to see what can happen when I put complete trust in the Lord. I will be satisfied as long as I do my best. Only the Lord knows how far I can go if I don't slow myself down. Too many times that's been my problem. Don't slow down your own personal progression! A day without growth is a day de-growth (can't remember the word, haha).

I love you all. Te quiero much mami, tias, papa, Jenna y Jonathan, brothers y Alondra. Study the scriptures. In  them we find answers to the most specific questions.

Elder Johnson

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trust in the Lord and His will

So crazy, I can't believe I'm already finishing my first transfer here in Ecuador. It's exciting what we are trying to do here in this ward. This truly is the work of the Lord.

To answer some questions from dad's letter:
1. I eat a lot of rice and chicken and potatoes, really nothing I'm not used to from eating with mom and that side of the family. I like pretty much everything. Haven't dealt with fish yet. Some of the mission rules are saving me. We aren't allowed to eat pig or shell fish or fish. Thanks to the white guys who got sick from that :)
2. We don't have a maid, just sisters that we go to every day except Monday for lunch. Also a sister who does the laundry, hand washed for $3. Really nice job with my slacks.
3. Also all the mamitas say I eat like a bird, or a baby cat. But I'm fine with that and they don't give me the "normal" amount of food. I'm eating just fine.

Dad thank you for your letter and thoughts, and good luck Christian!

Happy Birthday to Spencer! I felt so bad I forgot to say anything last week but I thought about him on Wednesday a lot. There's a kid here who had his birthday the same day and turned 16. I love you Spencer! Also forgot to mention what I thought about Jenna in her 3rd grade class without many of her old friends. I remember in 3rd grade I didn't have all my friends in my class, but you learn how to make new friends! Jenna is going to be the princess of her school with the most friends, haha. And Jonathan can help her with that, he's got the power of words unto the convincing of children, haha. And Jenna, you are going to be a math genius! You've got the same brain as all your brothers, I know you can do it and I'll pray for you. Oh and I was gonna say you should get the subscription of the Liahona in Spanish for these next two years, they are so great.

Scripture for Spencer: 2 Nephi 9:21 for your birthday. :) Christ truly suffered and felt everything for us. He didn't just suffer our emotional pains, justice didn't require that. He could have known how to comfort us by means of revelation, but that wasn't the route he chose. He truly felt everything we have felt from first hand experience, so that he might know how to succor his people.

So this is my companion's last week, kind of sad. He's a really great guy with a lot of experience and has taught me a lot. He was baptized only 3 years ago! He says he never thought or imagined he would ever have done what he is about to complete but his testimony is that strong. I "kill" my first companion, my "father" as they say in mission language. It's funny becuase now I'll have a "stepfather" and they say they are always mean and without love just like in real life. Hahaha, I'm sure he'll be great. The Lord knows I need someone to work hard here, there is a lot to do when the previous missionaries didn't work as much. I'm happy to be here in my ward. There really is a lot of potential.

I sang yesterday during sacrament meeting, a solo acapella. The whole room was silent so that was nice. I sang "How Great Thou Art" in Spanish of course. I felt like I was praying. That's what hymns should be. Really expressing our feelings in song towards our Lord. Haha, I definitely get plenty of opportunities to use my voice here.

So the thing that I've been preparing for and what we are doing here is a little capacitación con los miembros. Like a fireside, but during the second hour of church before anyone leaves early. I feel like Jacob in the Book of Mormon. I didn't write the scriptures down so go read Jacob 1 and 2. There are so many clues there for what needs to happen to improve a ward. I have been overjoyed to have special experiences receiving revelation and inspiration for what to do to improve things here. The crazy part is that my companion won't be here to help me in this meeting we will have. It will be the new companion who doesn't know anyone yet. So the weight of it falls on me. For that I'm grateful. I have had and am having so many opportunities to grow and use what the Lord has given me and improve my gifts.

If our desire is to do the will of the Lord, we will be blessed. Desires lead to thoughts which lead to actions. What is your innermost desire? In 3 Nefi 11 we read and hear the Father´s voice declare how pleased he is of His son Jesus Christ. I want my Heavenly Father to be well pleased with me too. How do we attain that? Do what he asks. It is a commandment to read and to SEARCH the scriptures. In them are answers to our most personal questions. I have really enjoyed asking a question, opening the scriptures to a random page, and finding the answer in the first verse I see. IT HAPPENS! Joy in this life comes when we know we are doing what our Heavenly Father wants. When we remember Christ, always. Pain and sorrow come when we choose our own will over God's. Doing the will of the Lord does not mean having a boring life! I feel like that is how a lot of people feel, here in Ecuador and in the USA. A Christ centered life will not lead us to do nothing, fast, pray and listen to people preach. That's not the purpose of this life. He wants us to have joy, have fun. I have a strong testimony that if we strive to do the will of Christ, the will of the Father, be worthy of the guidance of the Spirit and follow it, we will have a happy, fun life. Filled with real Joy, Gozo. I know this because I have joy. The times in my life where I decided to do my own will are the times that have brought me the most pain and regret. Search the scriptures with prayer and real intent and you will find the will of God for you. Personally. This isn't a hoax, I promise. But you have to read daily, and think about what you are reading. There are more squares in one verse of the Book of Mormon than you see on the surface. I like what Elder Uceda said that The Book of Mormon is a sealed book that can only be opened with the Spirit. There really is a lot more than meets the eye. I know it and am grateful to have learned that early in my life. Just so you know that is my innermost desire. To do the will of the Lord. Ether 12:27 I have been shown my weaknesses and they are many. But my trust is in the Lord. I'm learning a lot about patience, which goes back to trusting in the Lord. Everything goes back to that! If we would just trust more in the Lord and not in the arm of flesh we will all be so much better off. I was humbled by Alma 29 in feeling the way he did at first. This is His work, my job is to listen to his Spirit and act. A lot of times we know what to do but doubt. Doubting opposes faith.

Pray for me and the members here. Trust in the Lord and he shall direct thy paths. Be safe and pray for my Spanish! I can't tell you how grateful I am to have my family. To have you, mom, and you, dad, as my parents. You are the best parents in the world. President Morgan told me I would realize what I had on my mission and I am realizing. Sorry for the times I tried to put my will over your's and the Lord's.

I love you,
Elder Johnson

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Miscellaneous Mission Adventures


La Fe lleva la acción

We had the baptism set and ready, the font filled, but the family never showed up. We later found out that a range of problems occured that day. The baby got sick and they had to take her to the clinic, a co-worker of the dad's had died, and Elkin, the boy, thought he had to have a white button up to be baptized so they went to buy one. We'll have his service this next Saturday along with the brother of Maicol who became a member 3 weeks ago. His little brother's name is Cristian, haha. Funny, huh? He has a 16 yr old sister we are also teaching, and then the grandma and after that the dad.

There really are people that are prepared to accept the Gospel. They are almost waiting for it. There are others who are given the opportunity and really they just have to make the choice to accept it or not. They could go either way but it's not like they were searching for anything. Then there are people who need the Gospel, they need the peace and joy that it brings, and the salvation. But these people have habits that take away their agency. They don't want to change because they don't think they can. Those are sad.

I'm here to preach repentance through the atonment of Jesus Christ. It's hard to see people that know what we teach is true but don't want to change. But that's where faith comes in. Faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Faith that we can move on and repent. Turn from the bad and walk in the good. La Fe lleva la acción (Faith takes action). Fe is the symbol for iron. My chemistry buddies (Megan Conley & Michael Devonas shout out!) should know that. In Spanish Fe is Faith. I like saying that there aren't coincidences in life. The people we meet, the things we learn, the lives we touch, it's all for a reason. and that reason can be for our good. Now the cool comparison is that the element Iron is one of the most reactive metals. This can be easily seen from all the rust. Iron reacts. Iron acts. Fe acts. Faith acts. James chapter 2 teaches us that faith without works is dead. As members of the church we need to act on what we know, what we feel. I gave a talk yesterday in church, in Spanish! I found out I was giving the talk right before the meeting. But I was prepared during my personal study that moring so it went great. This ward here has the chance to grow so much. We all just need a little more faith. Real faith, the kind that makes us act.

Alright so I'll tell you about my week. It was really successful. We taught 35 lessons in total, we did a few splits with members so we could teach more. We made 3 dates for baptism so that was cool. The mother of Nallely is going to be baptized! The dad is already a member so they are going to be one eternal family! That's what makes me happy. Maicol came out with us in our lessons a lot, but he won't be able to anymore because he found a job.
Mom, Elder Uceda does remember abuelito y abuelita of course. Do you remember him? That really was such a nice experience to talk with him. An interview with a 70!

So a normal day for me is:

6:30am. Wake up, prayer, and begin moving around like a zombie at first and slowly gaining speed until I'm nice and awake for daily shower etc. Oh and no hot water, haha.
8am. Peronsal study.
9-11am. Companion study, new program is two hours for 12 weeks.
12-1pm. First appoinment and plan B.
1pm. Lunch, mmmmm!
2pm. Try to leave on time and continue work.
9pm. Try to end on time and get home by 9:30pm.

A lot happens in that big gap of time. Every detail would be great, but no time to write about that. I am keeping a journal of my feelings, not so much the temporal. Trust in the Lord. That's my theme right now. Gotta have a theme! I love you all and feel your love.

Elder Johnson

If life got any better I'd already be in Heaven

This past week has been incredible, it is honestly too hard to put into words all of my feelings. I'll try to do what I can with the time I have.

Tuesday we had a Multi-Zone Conference. This way way cool because we had just had our Zone Conference on Friday. So the spiritual power was just flowing, haha. I saw a couple more of my friends from the CCM and MTC there so that reunion was really nice too. We learned a lot, just about being a good missionary in general. How we should act, study, talk, even what our letters to the family should consist of. I'm supposed to try to INSPIRE you guys. La fe lleva la acción (Faith takes action.). Oh yeah, and the AP, Elder Duarte, asked me to say the opening prayer, so that was cool. He told me something that really made me feel good. "God trusts you.", he said. The whole meeting I really felt the spirit and was meditating on what he had told me.

So my week started off great. I worked hard and walked fast the whole week as we taught some, retaught others, and had to stop teaching some. That is the part that is so hard for me. If we have to drop an investigator. I almost can't bring myself to do it because of the potential I see in these people and how they can become closer to our Savior. But that is a lack of faith in me, because I need to have faith that there are others out there who are prepared. They have ears to hear the word.

Dad, thanks for your scripture from Alma, I finally found it in Spanish, you forgot to give me the reference, haha. But I taught Alma 32 a lot this past week. Trying to help people understand how faith is like a seed, we need to nourish it every day.

The week went on and we kept preparing Brenlli Nalleli Salguero Mora for her baptism. She is 10 years old. Her sweet little voice reminds me of Jenna so liked teaching her a lot. I taught the Plan of Salvation a LOT this last week. Guess what helped me the most? The little wooden puzzle thing from Tia Patti so please send her my love and thanks.

I've been thinking the past week a lot on how to more effectively help someone feel the spirit and know that it's true. Alma 17:2-3 gives some advice. Have you ever fasted with a purpose? I have fasted now 3 times on my mission in the field and it has never been so easy in my life to fast. Easy in the sense that I am not hungry at all and don't have any thirst. Even though I'm walking and sweating a lot of the time. I have faith in the fast. I need some of these people to at least recognize the truth. Some prefer to stay in the traditions of their fathers. John 3:13-19 and 2 Nefi 25 teach us that only through Jesus Christ we can be saved, after all we can do. If that doesn't sound right read John 3:19 "Our works will judge us."

We had another baptism and confirmación! And Maicol Zambrano received the Priesthood. He brought his little brother Christian to church. It was so nice. After that we had a conference with an area 70, Elder Juan Uceda. We had a really special lesson analyzng DyC 4:2 and other things. He is from Lima, Peru.

(Not much time so skipping to the cool part.) After the fireside the other AP, Elder Fletcher, told me I would have an interview that night. Oh yeah, and I was asked to say the opening prayer at this meeting too! The interview turned out to be with the 70! How special is that?! When I got in the room for the interview I immediately felt the spirit and the first thing I told him was about mom and her family from Peru. He he knows them! He said he served in the Arequipa mission! He knows mom and Tia Patti and sends much amor! I couldn't believe it. He told me "Yo siento en mi corazón que va a ser un misionero poderoso. Siempre humilde, y muy obediente." I don't think I can decribe how special this was. He knows all about the San Fernando Valley. His childeren served there. His last words were that he hopes we see eachother soon. The church is true. There aren't coincidences like that. I love the Savior. I am too blessed.

Love you all,
Elder Johnson

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Can I have 2 Gatorades and a smile?

Dear Family, how are you?

This week has been great. It's truly amazing to me how much you can learn in a week on the mission. It's amazing to me how much I can learn in one hour of devoted personal study. It's amazing how much I can learn from one sentence of an investigator. The Church is true. No doubt in my mind. But how do we show that to others more effectively? Well, first we've gotta know it for ourselves. Sometimes I feel like as members we get comfortable in just feeling good about being in the true church and stop our own personal progression. The commandment is become as Jesus (3 Nephi 27:27) so why do we get comfortable and lax? It should be fun to push forward and not look back. That's something I'm learning how to explain to my investigators. Don't look back. Too many of them have had bad experiencias con miembros that weren't acting like miembros.

I just got a haircut today and thought about Rose, how is she? Did you ever go back with the Farsi Book of Mormon? Doo ittt!

For mis padres. Gracias por apoyarme y ayudarme my whole life. I liked the insight from the teacher in Elders Quorum about Mosiah 4:14. Parents can't tolerate that their children don't know for themselves how to keep the commandments. Thank you for your patience and love in getting me to early morning seminary and such. Les quiero mucho.

So in the CCM they told us we would all have experiences of saying something wrong in Spanish and it would be funny. I told myself I'd never say anything wrong in Spanish that would be funny. Well, I was wrong. I shouldn't have fought it, haha. Today I bought some crackers and a Gatorade . After I got the Gatorade, I asked the guy to give me a "Risa" (but the cracker is called Ricas). So basically I said "Can I have 2 Gatorades and a smile?" Haha, my companion was laughing, me too.

We had Zone Conference this week and it was sooo good. Our president spoke and taught on the importance of having a positive attitude. He called me up to give a baptismal commitment and then after I did it he said "good job" and that I "looked like a winner". There are two other newbies from my district in the CCM in my zone here in Guayaquil. It was an awesome conference and I learned a lot, the president likes me and the other guy from my district.

This week we taught a guy who we had contacted while looking for someone else. This man, Angel Saurez, has a family and the first time we visited, we talked through his window. He let us come back to explain why we didn't drink coffee. So we went back and, man, that was not his only doubt! He doubted just about every bit of the Catholic church, though he said he was Catholic, but was thinking that it all was just a sham. We talked with him patiently about the Apostasy and Restoration. I explained to him the purpose of the BoM and bore testimony a lot. Finally I told him I thought he was the kind of guy who knows how to think long and hard about something and ponder it in his heart and handed him my blue BoM and told him to read it. He said, "But that's your book!", and I said "It's yours!" then he said he would read the whole thing in a week and for us to come back then. I promised him he would receive his answer and he commented that he liked how I said "his". I don't know if I did that on purpose. When we left his house I felt older. It was interesting. The more I testify and teach about the Restored Gospel, the Eternal Gospel, I feel a little bit older. I am starting to understand my calling better.

Yesterday, after two teaching appointments fell through, my companion asked me if I still wanted to go to a part-member family I had suggested we include in our plans for the day. I said yeah and we went, and there they were: All home and ready to be taught, haha. They have two sons, one on a mission and the other, age 22, not a member and the dad isn't either. The non-members were our focus. The dad hasn't joined the church because of members that don't live what they preach in his opinion. I tried telling him that only God can judge and we shouldn't. He said he wasn't, just a critic. I shared Mosiah 18:9-10 and asked him what was keeping him from being baptized if he knew everything we taught was true. He said members. So today we are teaching them again and I'm going to use what Elder Holland taught in the Liahona of Enero 2010. Don't look back. The story of Lot's Wife. La fe es para el futuro. Vivan para ver los milagros del arrepentimiento y del perdón, de la confianza y del amor divino que transformarán su vida hoy, mañana y para siempre. Forgiveness applies to ourselves too. We must become new creatures in Christ. We remember our past mistakes enough to not do them again, but we don't dwell there. We forget. We move on. The father I was teaching, asked if I was studying to be a lawyer. He said I was so convincing while teaching about the BoM. It wasn't me, haha, and I'd never be a lawyer. The only case I'd ever take, and I'd argue the case any day, is that the Book of Mormon is true. Accept it, World, and apply it! We can have that peace and joy. Don't hold on to the past. Forget the bad things. Faith is for the future. Live to see the miracles this life brings.

Pray for me today and this week as we will be teaching a lot of part-member families. We want to complete their families. I'm so happy to hear Tio Freddy will help complete ours.

We had a baptism and confirmation this last weekend of an awesome young man se llama Michael Jonathan Zambrano. Cool that he has two of my brother's names, huh?

We are working hard and changing the image of the missionaries in this ward. I guess they haven't always had the greatest elders here and not a lot was expected out of them. There are some really great members here. I bore my testimony and thanked all the mamitas that give us lunch. Some days I finish the whole plate, haha. I don't know why my appetite has always been tiny, kind of a personal trial every day with lunch. Hahaha, but it's delicious, just bastante.

I love this work, I love you all. Thank you for your love and prayers. Pray for me to have the Spirit unto the convincing of men, in Spanish. The gift of toungues is real, so all of those gifts are real. Have faith in that. God lives. I know now more than ever that Jesus knows me, that I am His friend and He is my Saviour. You can know too. Seek it diligently, salvation was never supposed to be easy.

Les Quiero mucho,
Elder Johnson

P.S. Continue to write me so I have something to read next week!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Elder in Ecuador (Literally)

Family, I am here (in Ecuador). I made it safe and sound with all my things, almost. I just had to leave behind my shaving cream and shampoo and a deodorant, also that old backpack. Sorry. But Mami, I love, love that little sidebag you got me. It fits the Spanish scriptures perfectly, haha, I think it was made for them. Also my new companion just gave me a backpack type bag to have because he has something he likes better. His name is Elder Alveño from Guatemala, but more on that later.

My last week in the CCM was very incredible. Basically everything that had happened that wasn't very positive got cleared up and the Spirit was very strong during that last week. It was really kind of sad leaving everyone, even more sad when we finally got to Ecuador and separated. Guys I've been with since day one. But the plane ride was pretty cool. I had my blue LdM out and I heard a flight attendant make a comment about it to another flight attendant while 10 missionaries boarded. She sat right behind me and was chatting with the other attendant (a guy), so I got the guts and started talking to them. I asked her if she had read it or seen it. She said "yes, a little" and that it was the same stuff she believed and that she was Christian. This was all in Spanish by the way. She is from Quito, Ecuador. I explained what it was and let it be. I sat back down but I knew what I had done. She then asked me what was the difference was between what we believe in and what she does. Perfect, haha. I went on and did a 3 minute Restoration lesson right there on the plane. She was really interested and thanked me and said if I needed anything to just ask. I got extra cookies, haha. At the end I handed her my blue one out of the case with a folleto and told her she could know for herself (if the Book is true) and she said thank you!

We arrived well, met the APs and went to the temple. It's beautiful. We met our companions, dropped our stuff off in the temple hotel, and had dinner there. Then interviews with the president of the mission and a session that night. I really like President Montalti. He sends his regards. In our interview he said I look like a missionary so that made me happy. It was a long night and early morning with another temple session. It gave us all a strong spirit to go out into the field. I'll tell you more about President Montalti later but he is so funny and a family man, he has kids here going to school. He's from Venesula.

I found out I would be going to Amazonas 2 which is here in Guayaquil. I love it here. Driving to the area was cool. There are parts here that look exactly like the Hollwood/Burbank hills. So that felt almost like coming home, it was reallly nice. I honestly have to say that I am sooooo blessed I can't stop giving thanks. I have the best companion. He only has one transfer left so I "kill" my first companion, haha (Elder Alveno will go home after he leaves his companionship with Jacob). And I'm his first "son" (Jacob is the first missionary that Elder Alveno has trained). That's funny, huh? Our area is awesome, one of the safest :) I really feel honored to be here. Since Elder Alveno leaves in 5 weeks I will have to know the whole area and everyone and where they live by then. I love what the Lord will trust us with.

Things I wanted to share:
  • Ways scouting has helped: I know how to live on little water to do things like brush teeth, shave, wash dishes etc. We can't use the running water but it's so nice don't even worry.
  • My setting apart is very special to me. I have felt the gift of tongues and feel it every day. I swear I hear English sometimes, but I think it's to remind me that it is the gift of tongues. Everyone thinks I'm fluent at first. I'm really good at greetings, haha.
  • I cherish my last two shopping days with mom and dad, separately, each of you.
  • The Lord knows me personally, I know it.
  • I baptized someone this last Saturday!
Cool miracle happened last night. There's like a party going on all night, every night. The music outside our apartment was especially loud. In my prayer I felt like God was listening so strongly. It was so nice. So I asked that the music would get turned off so we could sleep. When I said "Amen." it got really silent for 5 seconds, then got loud again. I started laughing a little and went to sleep. Within 5 minutes the music outside our place went off!God hears us and knows us.

Love you all! Elder Johnson

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Planting Seeds

Alright familia mia (dear family), this will be my last email sent from my home country of Peru! The next time I'll be able to write will be in about two weeks since I fly out to Ecuador this next Tuesday and will miss the P day. That's okay though, it will give me some time to get some experiences to write you about. It is so amazing the hand of the Lord in this work. And I am learning how to feel and respond to spritual promptings even better.

This last Saturday we went proselyting and we were focused on menos activos (less active members). Me and my new companion, Elder Christian Lorenzo, were tagged with a local member. He was about 65 years old and really cool. It was cool because he was originally from Trujillo, where my companion is going next week and his son is serving right now in my mission in Ecuador! He was so happy to find out I was going there and gave me a hug. His enthusiasm and love reminded me of my Tios (Alex, Freddy, and Coco) that I love so much.

Pero más sobre mi sábado pasado (But back to last Saturday). We were talking to this little 9 year old girl while looking for her neighbor who was a menos activo (less active member) of 8 years, a guy who is 28 and his brother who is 23. His brother reminded me of Mario Zacarias. Anyway, as I was sharing a scripture in the LdM (Libro de Mormon) with them in Jacob 2:18-19 and testifying about the blessings we can get from not working on sunday and going to church, the little girl was listening in and poking her head from around the member we were with. It was so cute and her mannerisms were like Jenna. We started talking to her and I asked her if she wanted to go to our church. She said yeah. The member we were with knew her mom but she was at work. I asked this little girl, Ayaneli is her name, if she knew how to read. She said yes and nodded her head. I then asked if she would want to have a Libro de Mormon for herself. She got excited and said yes again. I decided to carry around a blue study LdM (BoM) for my own personal use in this cool case I bought. That's what I was holding as I was explaining the book to her and other people tambien (also). Well, I felt such a sweet spirit in her, that I asked her if she wanted my Libro. She smiled and said yes looking just like Jenna. I told her about Jenna and that she had just been baptized and how she likes church and has fun and friends there. I took my BoM out of the case and handed it to her with all my little markings and showed her the pictures and told her to share them with her little sister. I'll never know if they go to church but she was so happy to get it and I felt good about giving it to her. It has my full name in it, haha. After that we had a good rest of the day.

We talked to a younger lady outside a store who thought we were Testigos de Jehova (Jehova's Witnesses). We told her we were not and explained part of The Restoration. She didn't believe that I was from the United States! I told her my mom was from Arequipa and that opened her up even more to the message because she said she was from there too. So maybe there's a chance she attended church aswell, haha.

I love the work. I gave my email to that member we were tracting with and he's already emailed me wishing me luck on my mission so that was nice. It was a really good day and I was able to see how people open up when you testify with sincerity and love. It was sad when one lady kicked us out because she decided she was too Catholic. I was about to share 2 Nephi 29, haha.

I love the LdM in Spanish, I can read it without a dictionary now!

Love you all, I'm out of time.
Elder Johnson

Thursday, August 11, 2011

MTC Miracles

I only have one more Preparacion day here in Peru before I leave to Ecuador! It's crazy and exciting. My new companion is such a nice guy and I'm really blessed to have him as a companion. He is from Huancayo and is 23. His name is Elder Christian Lorenzo.

So, I wanted to share a couple cool miracles that I've already been blessed with here. It may not seem like much but I wanted to share. A couple weeks ago I forgot my scriptures in my classroom one night when I went up to our rooms. The classroom building is the same as the dormitory building, the classes are on the first floor. The classroom doors had already been locked. But I checked and my class door was the only one open! I got my scriptures to read that night :) The same thing happened one other night when I was helping my old companion, Elder Cabrera. He was having trouble and was up in our room. He said he left all his stuff in his class and really wanted it, he seemed kind of distressed. So I went down and saw the lady had just got to the end of the hall after locking all the doors, but I didn't stop walking and just opened his class door and got his stuff. She saw me come out and was like "How did you get in?".

The Lord is aware of even our littlest problems. This morning at breakfast there was this reddish juice that looked like it could have been really good or really bad. I got a full glass. First sip before my prayer on the food: Really Bad. During my prayer I asked that I would be blessed to like the juice. Surely someone in this country liked the juice, haha. I didn't drink the juice during the meal until I had finished my food. Then at the very end, I decided to chug it. To my surprise it tasted like a delicious strawberry-banana drink, haha! I was happy. I've also had some fish a few times that I liked. I know my taste buds can adapt if I have faith. However, I did open my peanut butter the other day and spooned down a bunch, haha.

There are so many miracles here in the mission field. As a missionary, I have the opportunity to learn at a faster rate than I ever have before. I just need to put in the focus and have faith. I'm blessed with a district who respects study time. I sang a cool musical number with an elder, an acapella mix of Señor te Necesito and Más cerca Dios de Ti. I think I'm going to sing Here Am I in Spanish before I leave. Everyone knows me as a singer because I sing all over the place. Some of the elders ask me to sing when I see them, haha. Also, there's a new elder in the new group that is really good at piano.

I've finished through Efesios in the New Testament and am finding a lot of good missionary scriptures to use. I also want to read through the BoM in Spanish before I leave but that is going to be hard. But nothing is too hard with the Lord on my side. I am so happy being here. The only thing that makes me happier is knowing I have my loving family back home and thinking about you all. I regret not sharing this gospel more with my friends in high school. But there will be time. I love you all. Love you, brothers. Love you, sisters. Love you, tias and tios. Love you, dad. Te quiero, mom. I hope you are all being blessed. We are all so blessed when we take a moment to be grateful.

Elder Jacob Johnson

Monday, August 8, 2011

Peru MTC

My first Spanish Scriptures 102_0325[1] Elder Cabrera 102_0423[1] Some stuff I bought 102_0434[1] Cabrera and I outside the Lima Temple 102_0428[1] Lima Temple 102_0430[1] Elder Torres from Arequipa 102_0435[2] Adios Elder Cabrera 102_0438[1]

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Provo MTC

MIB: Missionaries in Black

My first companion, Elder Profiler, and I

I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map!

Provo Temple

My first District (group of classmates)

My Intermediate District

Elder Coley, my 2nd companion (We assume Elder Profiler had completed his time at the Provo MTC)

Andrew Bentz from the La Crescenta Stake!

My new friend Elder Holmes

Holmes and I messing around!

My sweet Tia Patty met me at the SLC airport before my flight to Peru

Check back soon for Peru MTC photos!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Adios Elder Cabrera

Okay, so I had to say goodbye to my companion this week. We went proselyting this last Saturday together. We were on a bus driving to an area that is in the Peru Lima North Mission. I was looking out the windows and looking at the people and life going on and just thinking that we should have a loudspeaker on the bus proclaiming the gospel. The drivers here are so crazy by the way, haha. I saw a bus driver catching some sleep while waiting behind another car. He probably has to work all day... so while we were driving I looked down one street and saw a little girl on her pink little bike chasing her little dog down the sidewalk and laughing and smiling. It made me smile and laugh so much and think of Jenna chasing Daisy (our dog) around. People are the same everywhere. It made me miss jenna and jonathan and appreciate the time I had with them before I left.

We tracted all the way up toward the mountain and the mountain was green! There's so much mist all the time you cant tell from afar. I got a lot of practice doing the introduction and introducing our message. The last door we got invited into was by a whole family! This man had such a hard life but so much faith in God and Christ and you could just tell. We taught the whole first lesson and I spoke a lot. All this noise and distraction from outside and inside the house literally came out of nowhere as I started to testify and recite the First Vision. The adversary is real. This family was prepared by the Lord. It's too bad that they didn't understand the need for authority as much and thought every church was good. But they accepted Books of Mormon, the commmittment to read, and pray. It was a good day and a good last day of teaching with Elder Cabrera.

He snuck back to our room the morning they left really early. I had woken up just before 6 to see if they left yet and was getting on a white shirt and missionary clothes to go check, just as I finished buttoning my shirt he walked and and we hugged and said goodbye and good luck.


He taught me a lot and I think I taught him too. I'll get my new companion tomorrow. Today we are touring the city. I sent a letter to Alondra's address with something for everyone.

(Jacob sent me about 20 photos! I have posted all pictures from Provo MTC below and plan to post all Peru MTC photos later this week!)

Love you all!
Elder Johnson

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Distinct Impression

Only one week left with Elder Cabrera as my companion. We are really good teachers together, he's a really smart guy. Because he's such a talker, we had to talk about some things but our companionship is stronger because of it.

Went to the Temple again today and did the session in all Spanish. Getting better! I understand the whole thing pretty much so that's nice. I bought this nice hard leather scripture case for my English scriptures that will protect them nicely. I also bought a Book of Mormon in Quechua that I want to send to Michael Breton. I´ll send it to you guys when I get to Ecuador and you can forward it to him sometime, I know he's interested in that language and I dont know if I'll run into another Book of Mormon in that language.

I'm realizing that the reason why I have had/might have some challenges is because some elders lack focus and lack the desire to work. During our District Counsel I spoke to them about the situation very kindly, and it reminded me of Dad. Thank you Dad for your great example of how to handle difficult situations and deal with kids(people) who have a lack of focus. I take from your example the way you would deal with kids in boy scouts, I was watching you and it works out here too. The elders told me they loved how I approached the issue and respected me for it.

Thank you mom for teaching me how to forgive and forget and move on. I feel my district is ready to be more focused and hopefully I won't have to remind us to study during study time. During my personal study I am studying the new testament from Acts to the end because I've only read the gospels and revelations before. I'm finding a lot of scriptures with great missionary application that I am using in our teaching practices.

We went tracting this last Saturday! The the eastern part of Lima Barrio kind of like East Los Angeles, haha. We walked around and taught and talked to a few people. On the last street, I was with my companion and our maestra (teacher), and she said to pick one last door. I felt a distinct impression and heard the voice of the spirit in spanish tell me to go to the one on the right and I went. I knocked, and a man, probably around 28 years old, answered. I did the introduction and told him we wanted to share a message about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it can bless his life and family. He said okay! He let us in and we taught the whole lesson of the restoration to him. I spoke a lot and recited the first vision in Spanish. We didn't have a Book of Mormon to give him but he agreed to go to church the next day and to pray about what we taught. He also agreed to be baptized if he found out the things to be true!

I know the spirit told me to go to his door and that he has been prepared by the Lord. May we always have the Spirit with us so we may act upon the promptings to share this gospel with God's children. It really is our responsibility, we have so much more than other people around the world. I often think about all my brothers. I pray for you all every day. I wish I could have my brothers out here with me learning Spanish and preaching the gospel with the spirit. We would all be such great companions! Why isn't there a brother program? Like the Sons of Mosiah, only the sons of Edward? Haha, I know we have to move on with life but it's still cool to think about.

I want to get better every day and it is possible for us all to get better every day. I love hearing from you too. I got your Dearelder, Dad. I got it on the 23rd so it took maybe 6 days? I love those letters because I can read them at night. I want you to send my love to the ward too. This last Sunday we sang Oh God the Eternal Father. I think the last time I sang it was in our ward and I just remembered that and felt love for everyone there. So send me the addresses and send them my love. I'm gonna send my testimony in Spanish sometime. I'm getting better at Spanish. Well my time is up, sorry no one wrote something specific to reply to. But I love you all! Love you, mamita.

Les Quiero,
Elder Jacob Johnson

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hola Familia!

So I just finished my first week in Peru. It has gone by pretty slow actually but not in a bad way. It just seems like we've done a lot. I'll start at the beginning.

After that first day of relaxation and such, I got to know my companion better and meet our teachers. I have one teacher, Hermana Flores, from Lima and another, Hermano Galo, from Lima. They don't really speak a lot of English at all so they look to me a lot to explain things sometimes. We have something called T.R.C. which is one North American district and one Latino district. We teach two people who are our progressing investigators. We teach with our Latino companions. We also have an english-speaking companion just for class time since our classes are separate. In 3 weeks we'll be in class with new Latino companions since they only spend 3 weeks here. Anyway, during the T.R.C. it's as if whoever is teaching is the same pair of missionaries (seen week after week) and we all watch and give ideas to do better and stuff. So what I'm getting at is that I sit up front on the mini stage and wear a translater mic like from Stake Conference and translate for the Americans/english-speaking elders in my district who need it. I was also asked by the Zone Leaders who have already been here for 3 weeks to translate the Temple Class since about 17 Latinos just went through the Temple for the first time today. Everyone liked my translation since I would tell jokes when appropriate, haha. It was fun and I'll probably be translating more. I don't know how I can do it. I remember a time not long ago when I couldn't understand what Spanish was and I let it just pass through my ears. But now I can get the message of what they are saying and know what they are saying. But I'm really only pretty good at gospel talk right now, haha, hopefully I'll get better at other talk too.

I'm trying to talk more since I can understand and the Latinos say I'm the best "gringo" at understanding and look to me during meal times or whenever to explain something they are trying to say to their english-speaking companions. Every day we have an hour at 4 for actividad física. We play futbol with both districts so it's with the same people in the T.R.C. group. It's set up so you get to know people pretty well. It's nice. So far 3 of the best Latinos that we play with have come up to me after and said "juega bien", that I play well at soccer. Haha, I try. I'm not used to using my feet yet but just being able to run fast and not trip all over the place goes a long way in soccer. There's a sand volleyball court right next to the huge turf soccer field and on Saturdays we aren't allowed to play soccer so that's what we played. I had fun jump-serving and showing them what sport I am good at. The Latinos who have never played are btter than the gringos who have never played, haha. They also have foosball tables and ping-pong tables here that you can play between meals and such because you get an hour for lunch and breakfast and 45 minutes for dinner. I win at ping-pong too, haha, but there are 4 other Latinos and 2 gringos who are pretty good and we have fun.

So I'll tell you about my companion. He is Elder Cabrera from Nicaragua. I'd send you a picture but I don't have the cable, any word on that? By the way, destroy the other recommend if you ever get it, I got a new one. Also, the Temple was really nice today. I listened to it in Spanish, the whole thing! And understood pretty much all of it because I know it in English so well. The Temple is very small though. Afterward, I bought a Peru soccer jersey and corbata at a little family owened store across the street.

Okay, so my companion from Nicaragua is a really funny guy. He's probably the most outgoing out of all the Latinos, and knows the most English. Which is funny because I know the most Spanish. He and I are great at teaching together, I think he's the smartest one out of them all too. He wants to study Nuclear Physics at BYU because he wants to get into alternative energy. How perfect is that? He also likes physcology which is funny and I see it in the way he teaches. He asks questions like "So are you doing it out of love for the Lord or tradition?" He is going to the Lima South Mission.

I want to set some goals with Spanish since I've been kind of learning from here and there and not being specific. So that's my goal this next week: To have specific goals.

I hear it takes about 8 days for a letter through to get here. So if anyone wants to write something long and personal or what not I would say do it through that for now since my time is actually pretty strict on the computer. It takes time to read so send something not urgent through the Pouch or Sorry I didn't get the address for the Pouch yet, I left it up in the room and I have just a couple minutes left.

I love you all, I love you mami. I know that this is the true work of God. I know miracles can happen if we are only faithful and obedient. I appreciate the opportunities I get here to recognize some faults of mine and work to improve them. I'll record in my journal some funny stories this week so I can remember them for next week. Pray for me as I will pray for each of you. Oh yeah, I met an elder from Arequipa and he was so happy to hear my mom was from there. He put his arm around me and started talking quickly about how she must be so pretty and how that's so great. :) Les quiero much.

Hasta Later!
Elder Johnson

Saturday, July 16, 2011

¡Hola! from Perú

Estoy aquí en el CCM en Lima. We didn't arrive until like 2am and then customs wasn't done until like 3am almost. We finally got to the CCM around 3:30am last night. Today has been very relaxed though. We woke up and met our companions a little bit more than the few words we shared very early this morning: Me: "Hola, soy Elder Johnson." He looked at me kind of half asleep and said "Mi compañero entonces." and put his head back under his blanket and went to sleep. It was pretty funny. If Michael was here we'd be laughing at something almost all day haha, if any of my brothers were here...

I like it a lot though. The morning came quick, and after a quick interview with Presidente Whetton, an American with some good spanish skills, we were allowed to go to breakfast. We don't have to stick by our companions at all today because our schedules are different since we got in really late. For breakfast I had some of this yellow juice that tasted like a mix of orange and lemonade. It was really good. Some of the gringos said to balance out the juice and the rice. One makes you flow while the other clogs you up! I've been fine so far.

After breakfast we went straight to get our heads buzzed! I might be able to send you a picture. But the guy left me with a little bit to work with. He gave me some tiny bangs and a fade instead of just a straight buzz like some other elders got. Maybe it's because I told him my mom "es de Arequipa".

Do people from Lima not like people from Arequipa? I got that feeling a little bit from a few people I talked to. The flight attendant on the plane said something about Areqipaños having two passports and laughed. I was confused, haha.

Any word on my camera charger and temple recommend? Maybe the recommend can just be sent in the mail? Or should I tell someone here and I can get issued a new one? I might be able to buy a camera charger here. They said to tell parents not to send packages because custom charges and taxes and such are expensive. And letters should have my mission name on them. I haven´t gotten the address yet but I´ll work on that.

Oh yeah, my companion is from Nicaragua, Elder Cabrera. I was having a hard time understanding that he was asking me if I had my "llaves" this morning because he says "javes", haha. My ears are tuning in more though. And I practice rolling my R's off of every vowel throughout the day. My accent is getting better, people think I just know spanish with what I do say, haha.

I was so happy to see mis tias at the SLC airport, haha. My prayers that they would know I was getting there 3 hours earlier were answered so I think it was okay. I'm not homesick at all so it (seeing them) didn't affect me negatively. They are so sweet, Patti, Lula, y Elsa. Dales mi amor. Well, write me back and I´ll come check in later. The email rules are a little more lax here.

¡Les Quiero MUCHOOO!,
Elder Johnson

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One week until flight to Peru MTC

(Jacob is serving his mission in Ecuador however their MTC is in Peru, so he will be there for a few weeks.)

I leave July 13th from Salt Lake Airport on Delta Flight #1972 at 11am and arrive in Lima Peru on Delta Flight #151 at 11:10pm. I have a layover in Atlanta, Georgia. If anyone would like to come and see me off from Salt Lake you are more than welcome to come :)

This last week seems to have gone by really fast. I'm seeing a lot of guys I knew from BYU here so it's cool to see them and say hi. 

I know that this work is the Lord's work. I taught the first lesson kind of shakily in Spanish the other day, haha. We will teach it again this Saturday in Spanish. It's getting better, it's just hard to decide on what to study so you just have to sit down and start studying something or nothing gets done. 

The gym is closed for 10 days so I wont be able to play indoor volleyball anymore, haha. I get a lot of hello's walking around the MTC from guys that played with me there and they still say I'm a beast. A guy broke his ankle really badly in the gym a couple days ago playing basketball. I already promised I wouldn't play basketball so I haven't. 

I have been doing the MTC Choir since being here. One of the directors is Brother Brenchley. He is one of the guys who is the host at the Heritage Festivals for Vannaires every year! (Vannaires is the Van Nuys High School Choir) Haha, tell Spencer to tell Mrs. Gamboa. He said to tell her Hi and that he remembers her name, Nadine Gamboa, haha. He kind of remembered my solo from two years ago and was happy I came up and said Hi to him. It was cool, I always kind of thought he was LDS seeing him four years in a row.

Sorry for stressing, it's the dumb clock at the top of my screen clicking down with 2 minutes left and then I dont hear anything for a week. I love you guys and miss you but I know what I am doing is right and a blessing for us all. I can't wait to talk to you in Spanish at Christmas! The next time I email you will be from Peru! Love you so much everyone. I am excited to focus on the work. 

I sleep all the way through the nights now. No more waking up at 3 or 4, haha. I sent Michael a present and birthday card to our house to get when he comes home.
Les Quiero Much
Elder Johnson