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