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