Saturday, April 28, 2012

Re-activating a Family

This has been a geat week. Last Sunday people showed up to church. They became our investigators that same day, haha. It's a big family, but most of them are members. A mom, the dad, two older daughters with their novios, and one wayward son, and 3 little ones. Everyone is a member except the two husbands to the daughters and the wayward son, but they all went to church. We've been teaching them the whole week.
The daughters aren't married, but we were able to commit them to getting married and that the men get baptized. We had some really nice lessons with members and broke down barriers. It was interesting and a blessing to see how the Lord blessed my companion and I. We don't have a lot of time in the sector. Which means we don't have a lot of time to find new people to teach. We rely a lot on the members. We were blessed to have these people dropped into our lives. The mom commented last night, "I feel like God is giving us another chance to return to church and the gospel and to live it the way it should be lived. I fear that if we don't take this chance we won't have another one. I want to do this right and with my family." It was really special. We stopped by a couple nights ago to teach the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity to Ricardo, the husband to one of the daughters. He accepted. It was also the birthday of one of the little ones but he was suffering and miserable on the couch with a fever. One of the members who was there said we should give a blessing and I asked the boy if he desired one. He nodded weakly. I annointed and my companion gave the blessing.

My companion is great. He just turned 22 on Thursday. I bought him some ice cream. He is from northern Mexico, close to Texas. He was baptized less than 2 years ago! He has a great testimony and is the only member of his family. I know the Lord has many blessing in store for him.

He gave a great blessing and the boy was healed. He was happy and running around and the next day. They said he was perfectly fine.

I love this work. I will pray for all of you to be able to reach your personal goals and family goals. Don't lose hope and don't become complacent. Let's keep progressing together as a family.

Elder Johnson

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Free Agency

Dear Family,

Do you feel time go by as fast as I do? Time goes by a lot faster working here as secretary. I wonder sometimes if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I've come to think that it means that I must learn to use my time better. At least, I will be learning how to get full use of my time without wasting any. That would be the ideal.

So the last week I asked you all to pray for the family of that guy Enrique. I thank you for your prayers. I will relate the miracle, and then the sadness of the truth. I've learned something about prayer. So in my prayers about Enrique and his family, I asked for some kind of miracle that would allow Enrique to go to church with his family. That Saturday night we found out that he would have to work early in the morning and wouldn't be back until late. Which means he wouldn´t go to church. Elder Carnese and I walked home thinking of some way to get him to church in the morning. By the time we got to the house we figured the only thing we could do was pray for a miracle. We prayed fervently that something would happen, acknowledging that God knew best what should happen, that would allow Enrique to not have to work and be able to go to church in the morning. We also did our part. We woke up earlier and got ready fast to get to his house and see if our prayer was answered. Arriving to the house, we walked to the window and called for someone to come. Johana, the wife came. We asked if Enrique was still there and hadn't left to work yet.
"No va a trabajar, está con vómito." Apparently, something he had eaten the night before left him sick and vomiting. Prayer answered. He came out after a little while and said he was still feeling sick. (Earlier that morning I had had a second thought about bringing my oil and at the last second clipped it on my belt loop)
We administered the blessing and the man was healed. Great experience. Proof that God is attentive to our needs and our prayers. Then I learned a lesson about agency. With Enrique feeling better he decided to use his new strength to take his son to buy the new school uniform since he was starting classes the next day.
¿What? I was heart-broken. You can imagine me there trying to convince the guy but in the end he used his agency to not go to church. None of them went.

Walking away and going to church we pondered on what had just happened. Our prayers were answered, a miracle occured that allowed him to go to church IF HE CHOSE TO. That's the sad truth. But really it's a happy truth. It's called the great plan of happiness. Agency. "God will punish him." We both thought. We found out yesterday that he had been in a car accident that next week and hurt his knee and shoulder pretty bad. Some day he will get his life straight. Maybe I'll be there to see it and help him along the way.

2 days ago one of the secretaries that was training another one finished his extension and went back to Colombia. This meant that Elder Carnese and I were split up and are only together in the office. We were only a little sad. He is a great missionary. Oh and by the way, the bishop's mom was baptized and confirmed, the one we got to accept baptism. We were already in the office for her baptism though. I am really happy in my new sector. But Elder Carnese will be leaving the office soon with his companion as soon as this change ends.

I love you all. I'm working on a letter to send to you. Happy Birthday Christian! I finally figured out the birthday song in Spanish that we always sang while we clapped hahahahhaha. So funny.

Elder Johnson

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Moving Mountains

Dear Family,

Okay guys, I must apologize for not writing a whole lot and not informing you on things here. I have had some life-changing experiences this past month. I live in downtown Guayaquil. It really is a nice city. They keep the streets nice and clean and the huge trash trucks play a song that's just full of whistling and not to bad on the ears. You can hear it coming from a couple blocks away so you know when it's coming and you can take out the trash. It'd be a good idea to bring the the US.

My sector is pretty big. It includes a huge chunk of downtown and also these two communities on these two hills. At the bottom of the hills there is a Catholic Church and at the top of one of them is a lighthouse. I am having great experiences with teaching the gospel to people. I like talking to taxi drivers and inviting them to be baptized on the ride home or to the office. Half the time they say yes and we take down their information and give it as a reference to missionaries that live by them. That's a cool part about working in the office. I get to meet all the other missionaries and also serve them.

On one of the hills we are teaching a few families that all live right next to eachother. There is a couple, Enrique and Johana, and their two kids, Alessandro and Milena. They are the same ages as Jonathan and Jenna so that's cool. We are helping this couple so that they can get married and baptized with their kids.

I don't have a lot of time in the sector since I also have to work in the office so we really need the Lord's help when it comes to using our time to teach. We are teaching them about forgiving and repenting and having faith in the future. The gospel solves all problems. It's hard when you can get a person to realize the truth but then they don't have the faith or the will to apply it. I think that is part of moving mountains by faith. These mountains of problems in front of their hearts.

Please pray for them.

I love you all,
Elder Johnson

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Short & Sweet

Dear Family,

Today we really have to secure some baptisms for the next week. David Lucio, 18 years old, and Reynaldo Ceballos, 28 years. Which means I have no time to write today. We don't really have P-Day here in the office. Just a short time to write if we find it. I love you all and appreciate your prayers. I will be giving a talk in the new ward tomorrow about the life of Christ. Pray for me!


Elder Johnson