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