Monday, December 31, 2012

31 December 2012

A missionary Christmas

Transfers calls are next Sunday, taking affect on the 8th.
On Christmas Eve went caroling to our recent converts and investigators. They all loved it. We packed the Elders into our Corola and drove around for about two hours visiting people. Tiwi (the GPS in the car that yells at you if you turn too hard, go too fast, etc) gave me four aggressive drivings in one night...hopefully that doesn't take my Tiwi license away. It went hypersensitive that night then died for three days. Called it in and they said they'll write the violations off and that they would fix Tiwi. Tiwi is terrible.

That baptism I wrote about last week fell through. The husband said no. We're hoping for sometime this month though. Hopefully I'm still here.

We did have a White Christmas in Yuma though! The other family who was supposed to get baptized, the one that the husband was going to baptize, got baptized! (Did that make any sense?) We all went in white ties since it was on Christmas day and it was a great time. That was one of the happier moments of my mission to see our recent convert baptize his family and then be able to stand in as they received the gift of the holy ghost.

We were called to go way out of town this week to give a blessing. The drive out took us past the crop duster airport which was pretty cool. When we got to the house and gave the blessing, we talked for a few minutes afterwards about Christmas and whatnot. The father then got up and grabbed a pretty big remote controlled helicopter and gave it to me and said I should take it since he doesn't have time. Sweet! It's probably 2.5 feet long and is pretty intense. I'm going to try to find a charger for it today since that was all he was missing. I'll attach a bad picture of it. Someone told me there's a Fast Eddy's near Walmart. I have no idea what that store is but hopefully they have what I'm looking for.

We had dinner with a family this week who had family from Gilbert visiting. When I said I was from Arlington she said she was there three years ago visiting the Arlington 2nd ward. There's a pretty good chance we were in the same room in a state thousands of miles away.

We received a referral for someone who recently moved into our area this week. We stopped by his house and met him and his wife and his kids. He was someone who had fallen away from the Church yet served a mission and married in the temple in "another life." His life went south quickly and he distanced himself from, well, everything. It was the first time I've tried to teach someone who has done everything as he should have until a certain point. We quickly realized he did not want to go back to church. We asked him why he went on a mission to which he responded, "social pressures." We asked him if he ever felt the spirit on his mission and he said, "no." He has spent the last 10 years of his life 
surrounding himself with anti literature and we spent a while trying to address his concerns until we just gave up on it because he wasn't going anywhere. We testified about the Book of Mormon and challenged him to read it. When I said I was going to leave a copy of the Book of Mormon for him, he said no. We ended with a prayer and I left the copy on the couch without telling him. Maybe something will come from it someday.

This week had more door slams, obscenities, yellers, and rejections than any other week I've had. It was a little disheartening but it was ok because yesterday we found someone who accepted a baptismal date for early January. We're pushing for four baptisms this month and it's looking like we  do it.

I heard about the tree of life rock or something this week. What is it? Is it legit?

This week we brought some investigators to a baptism for the winter visitor (snowbird) congregation. The room was packed of older people and then the family we brought with everyone in their 30s. They felt way out of place. When it was time for the baptism to happen and they started walking towards the water, everyone started yelling, "does he have hearing aids!?" for a good 10 seconds. He didn't but he probably needed them haha. I was dying in my seat because only at a winter visitor branch would you hear that be the major concern. Good times. Anyway, the family enjoyed the baptism and we are going to put her on date for the 5th when we meet with them this Tuesday. A quick one but she's ready!

Not a ton else happened this week since we had 1.5 days "off" due to Christmas. This next week should be a good one! If you're planning on writing to me at my apartment write before Wednesday to make sure it gets to me. If not, write to the mission home: 1871 E Del Rio Dr, Tempe AZ 85282
Thanks Mom, Eric, Will, Ian, Brother Parker, Natalia, and Sister Hines for the letters this week. Was great to hear from you all!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

24 December 2012

It doesn't really feel like Christmas Eve haha. Mission Christmas' are different. All the congregations/wards that we cover had their Christmas programs yesterday. In the Rio Colorado branch we had little talks given and lots of singing. We were only at the Yuma Valley ward for a few minutes so didn't see anything. The Cibola ward had lots of choir numbers and instrumentals. We got there late but saw the harps and violins. It was nice.

We had a Christmas miracle yesterday. Back in October I wrote about a family that was just starting to come back to church with three daughters who were never baptized. The family is increadibly busy and we have not been able to have a lesson with them since October. Every week it gets cancelled. Well we finally had one set up for Sunday (yesterady) and our mission president told me to get the Bishop involved since it's a unique situation. We did. The day before on Saturday night I was doing some stuff in our apartment and out of nowhere felt a very strong impression to give the three daughters a baptismal date. For next week. I sat there kind of dumbfounded thinking to myself that we have only taught them three times in three months and how there was no way etc etc etc. But the impression stayed with me so I planned on extending that date during the lesson the next day. We met with them after Church and she told us she was very rushed and only had a few minutes to be with us so we started the lesson and taught around the Gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, gift of holy ghost, enduring to the end). At the end that prompting came back and I extended the invitation to be baptized the following week. The three girls, very excitedly, said yes. The mother looked at them and said that she was ok with it and would check with her husband, who doesn't love the church. I promised her that if she went to him and bore solemn testimony that he would say yes. We are supposed to call her this afternoon to see how it went but I'm optimistic. Through a miracle the family is where they are. Through a miracle they have accepted a baptismal date for next week and through a miracle it will happen. I believe in miracles.
The miracle of that story is even better when compared to the disaster of this past week. One of the people we have been teaching with a baptismal date for last weekend came to us and told us she didn't want to listen to us anymore. We sat down with her and tried to figure out why but she just got up and left. It was pretty sad to see someone come so far and then just disappear.

Where one falls away, three fill it I guess. It looks like we can pass our monthly baptismal goal if the father OKs the baptism. Miracles!

This past week was the Christmas party in Tempe. It was fun to drive up and enjoy the program and go to the temple. The Christmas program itself included talks from President and Sister Howes, the area authority, and the APs. In between the talks were multi zone musical numbers. Two-three zones were paired up and given a song to practice and perform at the party. We were put together with Chandler and Maricopa, both 2 hours away. We never practiced with them or on our own. Turns out they never practiced either haha. We were called up in front of the mission to sing and man, terrible doesn't even begin to cover it. One Elder was conducting who had no idea how to do it. To begin, he held his hand and just waited. The choir of ~30-40 people sat in silence for a good 15 seconds. The pianist told the conductor to start and so, naturally, the conductor started singing thinking that we would all join in. No one did. So he sang the first three notes way off pitch and the whole room just started laughing haha. Finally the pianist just started playing and we all tried to join in. Well, throughout the two minutes we were up there, the pianists music fell off so he stopped playing, the singing was waaaaaaay off tune and no one can count beats and it was just the worst musical performance of my life haha. I don't think I've ever had such a hard time trying not to laugh. As soon as we were finished we all walked back to our seats and I just about died of laughter. Most of the performances were pretty bad, not as bad, and President Howes just got up and laughed it off and said they probably won't do that again. Golden. It will be one of the funnier memories of my mission I think. After that we had a huge lunch/dinner given to us by members in the area and got to get together with all the missionaries in the mission. It was fun to see my MTC district again and to say goodbye to some of the missionariesI've come to know who are going home in a few weeks. All in all a good experience. The Mesa temple is unbelievable.

This week we were walking in the ghetto part by the farms and a 747 flew over us at like 300 feet. Suuuuuuper low. I took a picture of it and looked at it later on my camera and zoomed in. It had, written on the side, "Trent 100 - First to power the Boeing 787 Dreamliner." and then I noticed that one of the four engines is the very engine that is on the 787. Pretty cool. Picture attached. Guess they were advertising to the farm workers?

Jeff Jardine showed up this week in Yuma! Got a phone call from a Virginia phone number and picked it up and he said that the mission president had OK'd him taking us out to lunch. Sweet! We met at In 'n Out the next day and had a good time. It was nice to see him and his family. Thanks for stopping by!

I met two people this week who know where Sweet Home, Oregon is and have been there recently. The Slaters and the Borgersons. Those sound familiar to anyone?

What is it called when there's like a halo around the moon? I've never seen one before but remember learning about it in Physics. I got a sweet picture of it on exchanges this past week. Attached.

Remember the family of the the man that Elder Sawyer and I baptized? The ones who hated us then loved us? They're getting baptized tomorrow and the father, the man we baptized, is going to be able to baptize them. I can't even wait. So exciting. Just a complete turn around in their lives. That means that 4 of the 5 people that Elder Sawyer and I taught all the lessons to will have been baptized in the last 2 weeks. Very cool. They challenged all the missionaries to a game of softball afterwards. Challenge accepted.
Not a ton else happened this week.

Tonight from 6-9pm is P-Day and all day tomorrow is P-Day as well. We are going carolling as a district tonight to recent covnert houses. Should be fun. . Thanks Sister Hines, the Lewis', Grandpa and Grandman, Mom, Natalia and Annie. Tomorrow I'm catching up on letters for the last few weeks, I promise.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

17 December 2012

Fun times with Santa Clause

Christmas in Yuma
Happy Birthday Grandma Johnson! Wishing you the best birthday ever!
Today is Monday but today is not P-day. Since the mission christmas party is tomorrow in Tempe. We have time to shop and write emails today but that's it.
This past week we had interviews with President Howes. Elder Valdez and mine were scheduled first at 7:45am. Since we wouldn't have much time in our areas this month to proselyte (Elder Cook, Christmas party, interviews, christmas, etc) President kept them to 15 minutes each. A lot less than last time haha. Interviews were really good. Learned some good things that will help us be better missionaries. President Howes definitely can speak with power.
This week was a 2 baptism week for us. Both went smoothly and well. The first one was the most attended baptism I've ever been to wth well over 60 people. The room was full and people were standing. The second one had considerably less, probably 12, but was just as powerful. I was in charge of filling the font both times and I guess the water was a little too warm the first time. The thermometer read 90 F. Woops. When they walked into the water they both looked at me and mouthed "IT'S TOO HOT." Good times. He asked me to confirm him a member of the Church which was my first spanish blessing. To say I was a little nervous probably wouldn't do it justice. Nevertheless, it went smoothly except for saying that that God was happy that he joined his (the baptizee) church. I meant to say that God was happy he was joining His (God's) church. Bah, semantics.
Last night was the baptism for someone that I taught with Elder Sawyer. When I got transferred, she was on date to get baptized. Even though the baptism wasn't 'statistically' mine, I was super happy to see her make that step of faith and was happy to have been a part in teaching her. She has overcome many trials and her life and is an example for everyone. That was the most stressful baptism I've ever been to though. Elder Lanier, Sawyer, Valdez and I all ate dinner out in the Foothills that night (yesterday). The baptism was scheduled for 6pm and we left dinner at 4:45 (my goodness the best dinner I've had on my mission. I don't even know what it was but it was delicious). They (Lanier and Sawyer) still had to fill the font (~40 mins), print the programs,get the baptismal suits from our car, and set up the room. Well, we didn't get back to Yuma until 5:25. We split up and we helped them prepare by printing off the programs (which was clearly rushed since they even spelled their own names wrong - we fixed that) and getting the baptismal suits. The baptism didn't start until 6:25, late as usual for our spanish branch haha. Anyway, I told Elder Sawyer to be careful with the hot water and I guess he overcompensated. The water was ice cold. The woman he baptized took like 5 minutes to get into the font. After the baptism, they realized the woman's locker room door was locked and no one had the key. People were bristly walking in and out of the room trying to find the key and it was, well, stressful. Ater 10 minutes they found a key and let her into the locker room to change haha. Wasn't even my baptism and I was stessed out. But that's ok because once she finished changing and came out we ( the 6 missionaries) sang a cool rendition of Nearer my God to Thee. We're probably going to be doing that at every baptism from now on. It was pretty powerful.
We taught a lot of lessons this week. 28. Unfortunately, only 7 of those were with members present so I'm not too pleased.
And that was because we broke our phone 4 days ago. We were sitting in a members car and the phone slipped out of a pocket and, wouldn't you know it, fell straight into a cup of something. He grabbed it quickly and took the battery out and we let it sit in rice overnight but it was already dead. So for 4 days we've been struggling to do everything. It was especially stressful to plan and figure out baptismal details without a phone. How did old missionaries do it?...
I forgot my scriptures at an investigators house this week. While we were walking around the corner, I heard a little kid scream, "HEY WAIT." I turned around and saw him running with my giant scriptures in hand haha. That would have been bad.
We baptized someone who lives in San Luis this week (~30 miles away). For 2 days we had tried to find someone to come with us to a lesson and give us a ride and no one could. On a whim we called someone who we knew was very busy. He has a large family and works 80+ hours a week. As soon as we asked him he said, "Of course, let me move my schedule around." Man, that man has a testimony of prioritizing the Lord. It was humbling to see him take 2.5 hours (trip there, lesson, and trip back) out of his very busy day and help us. The lesson was amazing and the spirit was very very strong. Despite it being 50 degrees, we all felt warm that afternoon. He gave a great talk at the baptism too. Something he said that I really liked was, "We live in a world of darkness...but it doesn't have to be dark for you. The light of Christ shines brighter than ever." Amazing experience.
This week during personal study, I had a moment of realization. It finally hit me how much sense everything makes in the gospel. Everything Surely something so perfect can't be incorrect. I don't remember when or why it hit me but it did.
One of the most common things we here down here is, "It's all the same God, why does it matter how you worship? I do it in my own way." I was flipping through the Old Testament this week and found a pretty great scripture.  8 ¶For my athoughts are not byour thoughts, neither are your cways my dways, saith the Lord.
 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my aways bhigher than your ways, and my cthoughts than your thoughts.
Sometimes we don't understand why we have to do something but we need to remember that there's someone who knows better than all of us.
We went to a Tamale festival this week haha. Down in Sommerton (~15 mins from border) they threw a giant party and advertised it for weeks. Since we cover that English area we went down there to see it and see some former investigators. It was a massive dissapointment. $2 for a Tamale "pass" and then $2 per tamale. Psh! There were well over 2,000 people there though. We left empty handed but ran into some snowbirds from Utah who bought us a big bag of them haha. Only in Yuma would there be a party centered around Tamales.
I got our family Christmas card this week. There are two ways you can tell Mark made it: 1) He used the picture I told him not to, 2) He made himself look taller than me haha. Just wait, I'll come back 6'11" and show you who's boss.
We were in our sketchy part of Yuma last night talking to people at around 8:30pm and we pulled over and started to get out. Someone walked past the car and looked into it. When we opened the doors, he jumped and quickly walked away. The person we were going to visit was the same way he was walking so we went that way. He was terrified that we were cops haha. He then decided to walk into house...which just happened to be the house we were going to. The look on his face was priceless when we said Hi and then when we said we were missionaries. I think we'd get to talk to more people if we weren't wearing white shirts and ties. Then we wouldn't be thought of as cops.
We are focusing this week on working with referrals from members. The other day, we were driving behind a member who was going to work. On a whim, while he was driving, he stuck his hand out the window and pointed to a house. We pulled over to the house while he drove away. The family told us to come back another time which we did last week. Turns out the family of 3 have LDS parents but aren't members and the daughter (12) wants to get baptized. Sometimes we don't know who is ready for the gospel, so why try to determine who we think is ready when in reality we don't know who is? The gospel is something that blesses everyones lives. Let it!
Thanks Mom, Dad, and Natalia for the letters this week. I'll respond tomorrow on the car trip to Tempe.
We get to go to the temple tomorrow! Never been so excited haha. Just hope I get better by then. Last two days have been pretty flu-y.
How is the range in the temperature so huge in deserts? 120 during the summer days, 30s during winter nights.
Why does, at the end of the Old Testament, it say, "the end of the prophets?"
Merry Christmas, love you all,
Elder Johnson

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

10 December 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

So this month, the Yuma zone set a baptismal goal of 22 baptisms for the month of December. To put things in perspective, there were 4 in September, 8 in October, 0 in November, and 0 so far in December for this month. Usually Yuma baptizes the least in the mission so 22 is a pretty lofty goal. As of today, there are 25 people on date to be baptized in Yuma. If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is. Everyone is working hard and pushing hard and we're starting to see results. At the Spanish branch yesterady, there were about 50 people there, 10 of them being our (the Sis Drake/Thompson, Elders Lanier/Sawyer, and Valdez and my) investigators. The branch was ecstatic to see everyone working hard. Hopefully we can get some referrals out of it. We got a text from the AP's this morning saying that our zone was carrying the mission in new investigators and people on date. Represent!
Elder Valdez and my goal for this month is 3 baptisms. We're going to be getting two this week, one on Wednesday and one on Saturday. Originally both were scheduled for Saturday but we got a call from one of them saying, "guys...I don't want to be baptized on that day. Can we move it up so I can go on the temple trip?" Sweet! So that's happening on Wednesday. He asked me to confirm him which will be my first spanish blessing. Nervous doesn't really cover it but I'm working no subjuntive tense right now so I can at least conjugate some of the verbs correctly.
There's an elementary school that is having snow made for a day and they're going to dump a couple truckloads of fake snow on their grass. We are definitely going to be there. Not to play, of course, but to talk to people...right?
We spent two hours in the Emergency Room this week. We got a phone call asking to go give a blessing so we headed over and got our ER passes and went inside. The first one took a little while since the guy was pretty hurt so once he was all, well, fixed up, we gave him a blessing. On the way out, we got called over by an elderly coulpe to give another one. That one took a lot longer since he was in there for a stroke. The hospital had a pretty cool system for stroke patients. They wheel'd in a monitor with a video camera and started a video chat between the hospital ni Yuma and the stroke response squad in some other city far north by show low. Through the video chat, the nurse that was 4 hours away diagnosed him, prescribed him, and sent him to get some treatment. It was a pretty cool example of modern technology in hospitals (obviously everything in hospitals is modern, but this was just cool).
While passing past a room in the hospital we heard an elderly man say, "grrghghhh, not dying before my wife was a big mistake."
One of the investigators we're teaching lives in San Luis, a 70 mile round trip. Our Engilsh ward goes from Yuma to the border. But the missionaries in San Luis have been teaching him even though he'll be baptized for our ward and technically be our baptism because of the inconvenience of going down there. Anyway, we went down last week to talk to him and taught him the first lesson, about the restoration, all over again to reinforce it. He didn't have a very good grasp of it. Anyway, at the end we told him we were usually in Yuma and made the trip down here just to see him. He said, "Oh man, I wish I'd paid more attention!" Haha, I couldn't decide to laugh or slap him haha. He was involved in the lesson and when we asked him questions while we taught he answered them mostly correctly. But at the end when we asked the same questions, he couldn't respond to any of them. He has a slight mental condition so that probably played a role. Good guy though.
I just remembered that Elder Cook of the Quorum of the 12 came and spoke to the mission this week. Probably should have written about that first. But anyway, he came last Friday. He also brought Bishop Stephenson (Presiding Bishop), Elder Gonzalez (Bishopric of the Seventy), and Elder Wright (don't remember). I was expecting a big change in the mission but nothing of that sort. But before I get to what he said I'll rewind a little bit. Since Yuma is so far away from, well, anything, the trip to Gilbert was an all day thing. We left at 10 am on Friday and stopped for lunch at 11:30. It was a place in Dateland (lots of date farms) which sells Date shakes and Cactus shakes. Not a fan of date shakes. Nope nope nope. Cactus wasn't too bad though. Anyway, we spent too long at lunch and got on the road a little later. We were supposed to be seated by 2pm at the stake center. To preface the next part, Yuma has a reputation has the outcast. We don't get invited to any mission activities other than the christmas parties, we don't get to go to the temple, and we don't know anyone since we don't get invited to Mission Presidents Firesides. Well, all of Yuma zone walks into the chapel at 2:15 and see everyone sitting down and the chapel of the stake center full. Everyone watched us walk the walk of shame. President gave us an unhappy look. So we pull up some fold up chairs right in front of the overflow section and sit. Then the whole zone gets up to use the restroom since we didn't get a chance en route so 12 missionaries get up and walk out after already being late. Right after we sat down, Elder Cook walked in the back doors and I looked at him. First to see him! And also the one to not stand up when  I should have. Bishop Stephenson was walking in behind him and motioned to us to stand up to show respect haha. Que oso. Anyway, I'll be sending copies of the notes I took home but suffice it to say, they spoke a lot on, well, being better missionaries. Elder Gonzalez talked about establishing the church, Elder Stephenson spoke on invitations rather than assignments, and Elder Cook spoke on testifying and getting rid of all our childesh habbits to prepare for the huge influx of missionarise next transfer since the mission is going from 170 missionaries to 250. Threw down on immaturity. It was a good meeting though.
They all finished speaking at 5pm. We had the chance to visit with other missionarise for 30 minutes after and I got to see Elder Myler (he's training), Elder Jacobsen, Sister White, and Sister Crawford, all of whom were in my MTC district. It was nice since I haven't seen any of them since September. They're all doing well and having much success. Kind of thought of when Alma ran into the sons of Mosiah.
So we left Gilbert at 6pm and headed to Chandler to eat as a zone at some place callde Barros. Elder Mackay told me I needed to eat the medium sauce'd wings which I did. If that sauce was medium, I don't want to know what hot was. We then left dinner at ~6:45 to drive home. And then at 8 we realized we were lost and still 2hours from Yuma. Fast forward to 8:45 and someone tries to call President to tell him we'll be late but doesn't leave a message. Actually, I'm not even going to try to explain the situation. Lots of misscomunications and we didn't get home till way after curfew and President didn't know until the next day and we had to get a ride home with a member and we didn't have our house key because someone had our keys and more and more. Just a crazy confusing night. He comes on Tuesday for interviews and we're all expecting a throwdown on how we should have been more responsible. Which we should have.
But back to the meteor! So at a certain time later in the evening when we were still waiting for our house keys to get to us we saw another large meteor go across the sky. It went straight down, lasted for abuot 3 seconds, dissapeared behind an apartment and then the sky lit up. Either it exploded in the atmosphere or hit the ground, all I know is that it got really light really quick. Pretty cool thing to see.
We spoke to some Jehovah's Witnesses this week on the street. They were going door to door and were only like 16 years old. We asked them what they believed and they showered us with pamphlets and information. Now I've got some stuff to study (since it's all in spanish). When we offered them a Book of Mormon, their mom came walking over and pulled them away. Next time.
We also spoke to an less active part member family this week. The wife answered the door and told us she was never going back to Church since someone their offended her. She said that she told her husband about it and he stopped going as well. It was a pretty ridiculous reason. I tried to tell her the importance of church but when she wouldn't listen I was just bold with her and told her that she couldn't expect God to forgive her if she couldn't forgive others. She said she knew and then left. What a silly excuse to stop going to church.
 Some of our investigators tried to put money in the sacrament tray at church yesterday haha. Guess we didn't explain that one well enough.
This morning at 7:30, a kid showed up at our door and gave us a plate of sugar cookies. He's not in any of our wards. We also had a member give us well over $200 of candy and fruit this week. See pictures.
And before I forget, I almost went to Mexico on accident this week! We were driving in San Luis and got in the Mexico line on accident. Well, we got to the sign that says, "no turn backs" and freaked out and barely got out... But don't worry, we're still here!
"One of the sins that most of us will be accountable for is ingratitude."
Gas prices have dropped close to 40 cents in a month, what's happening?
I made the mistake of buying premade cookie dough from the grocery store last week. Never again. I ate half of it before I realized it was only Wednesday.  
I'm 85% sure I saw the F35 flying last Tuesday. My only concern would be the nose looked pretty pointy and it was quiet and relatively low.
How do vending machines count cash?
Thanks Grandma and Grandpa Johnson, Annie, Katie, Mom, Eric, Will, Sister Hines, Sister Hauer, the Hall family, and Natalia for the letters! Everything sounds great for you guys! I'm running behnid on responding so hopefully I can get back to you all soon but thank you so much for writing!
Merry Christmas,
A favorite sign

Missionary Christmas decorations

Where shall we start?

A generous gift

Elder Johnson

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

3 December 2012

Dear Family and Friends,
I turn 5 months in two days. Time flies.
That poorly exposed picture is of my Yuma district before transfers. 3 of those 8 are gone. From left to right, they are: Elder Sawyer, Elder Boyd, Elder Berriman, Elder Johnson (Me), Elder Lanier, Elder Mackay, Sister Drake, Sister Thompson. Elder Boyd got called to Show Low and I heard that in transfer meeting, when he heard it, he got up and started singing, "I'm dreaming of a white christmas" until President Howes told him to stop. Sad I missed it!
Transfers were this past week. Because every companionship in Yuma went through a change, 6 of the 8 missionaries had to go to transfer meetings in Tempe. As a result, Elder Mackay and I were the only ones who stayed in Yuma. We covered the entire stake for the day. The only missionaries in all of Yuma (Yuma to Heider). But that was just for like 8 hours. Because we had no lessons set up that day and the entire district was gone, the Zone Leaders challenged us to get 80 OYMs, or 80 street contacts. We accepted that challenge. And did it. It was ridiculous haha. Every. single. person we saw we talked to. We only got like 3 lessons out of it too. And since that was the end of the month of November, we had only 20 miles left in the car so we walked all day. By all day I mean from 8am to 6pm. By the end we easily had walked over 10 miles. Anyway, the zone leaders now owe each of us a tub of bluebell ice cream. I'm going to cash in for some Dutch Chocolate. That stuff is heavenly.
All the new missionaries and the returning one from training meetings got back at 6pm that night. My new companion is Elder Valdez. He's from Quintana Roo, Mexico, just below Cancun. He has only been speaking English for as long as he has been on his mission which is 8 months. We're a pretty young companionship. There are only 3 native speaking missionaries in the mission so I got lucky. My Spanish is going to get really good this transfer and his English is going to get better too. We're trying to only speak our mission language so he speaking English, me speaking only Spanish. The language barrier has presented some interesting problems so we're working through that. Our month baptism goal is 3.
And that goal got off to an unfortunate start. We had one baptism on date for the 1st of December but due to Word of Wisdom problems got pushed back. Hopefully we can get him excited again and get him on date for next week or the following.
And we had one investigator who wasn't progressing but now will absolutely not be progressing for at least 8 years. Let's just say a gun and 12 bullets were involved. No one died (I think). He got bailed out and came to church though!.....People were coming up to us and telling us about it at church. Since we get no access to the news, we had no idea.
Elder Valdez and my first night out turned a little intense. We went to talk to this guy who came over and just starting calling us out for every single thing you can imagine. He was a super scriptorian and before we decided to leave he said, "and next time you guys come back, memorize more scriptures!" I wanted to say that it's not about having memorized scriptures, it's about how you feel and act. He went on about how we need to celebrate passover and how the 2nd coming was in 1948. I read to him the one part of (book of) Revelation that I actually understand about the two prophets being killed and he couldn't respond. Bible bashing doesn't get you anywhere though so we just bore testimony and left. Nothing else you can do to in that scenario.
As I said last week, I got transferred a couple blocks away and out of my sweet old apartment. The one we're living in now is worse. Way worse. Half the size, really dirty, and missing lots of things. Even our door is broken. The apartment office said it would be $125 to fix it and the mission OK'd it so all we need to do is let the apartment complex know it's ok'd.
This has been a pretty stressful week. Since there are now 6 Spanish missionaries in the Spanish branch (compared to the previous 4), we had to split the areas. The zone leaders got all my old investigators and I got a new ward. So this transfer I'm 1/2 white washing. A new Spanish area, a new English ward, and the same other English ward. I don't cover the YSA branch anymore. But it has been hard to start from scratch (again) and try to build it up. Hopefully we can have as much success as I did last transfer with Sawyer.
Speaking of the YSA branch...drama! At Church yesterday, we were studying in the foyer and saw the branch president's wife run out of the chapel and grab the branch president and rush him inside. They looked pretty scared. So naturally I followed them. One of the members was non-responsive and looked like he was passed out. A couple of seconds later, he just collapsed. Chaos. His fiance's nose started bleeding and she fainted from fear. The member who was non-responsive was out for 1-3 minutes. I think the only way he could have been safer would to have been in a hospital. Eight marines, 2 EMTs, and a nurse are in the YSA branch. Not to mention a doctor was in the hallway. The firetruck/ambulance showed up and got him conscious again after a bit. It had happened to him 3 times before. He didn't want to go to the hospital for certain reasons but they eventually convinced him. As the EMTs walked out, one of the members said, "and you guys  thought you weren't going to church today!" That relieved a lot of the built up stress haha.
Saw another meteor this week! Not half the size or the coolness of the last one but it was pretty cool. They're pretty easy to see when there are no clouds or trees.
We met a man this week who started anti-ing us the second we said hi. Before we left, he said, "you guys are just a little cooler than Jehovah's Witnesses." I guess the people here don't really like them. Or us.
Polyester ties were banned this week. President Howes said missionaries were getting out of control with the styling. So sad. Now I have 60 ties that I can't wear. If I can find a box I'll probably be sending 1-2 boxes of ties home. There are some sweet ones and some hideous ones. Get excited. It mostly just affected the Spanish missionaries since for some reason Spanish missionaries tend to wear more polys than English missionaries.
I got a tiwi card! AKA I have permission to drive. Since Elder Valdez is from Mexico, his home license isn't recognized. We drive a 2011 Corolla. I have to stoop waaaayyy down to get into it. Not a huge fan but it gets sweet gas mileage. It's no swaggerwagon though. The first day in it I accidentally sat on my sunglasses and broke them. Bien triste [very sad].
We had a pretty cool experience yesterday with an OYM. We were walking down a street and I felt like we should knock on a door. No one answered. We turned around and saw a family sitting on their "yard" (it was all dirt.) so we went and talked to them. Turns out they're all really really interested in family history. They're going to the family history center at the church building this week. Hopefully they'll start listening to us and learn about the church
So the week after I get transferred out of my old area, that family we were teaching decide to get baptized. Ahhjhhhhh. At least I'll still be in Yuma to see it. Apparently they kept asking Elder Sawyer why we got split up and if it happened because we did something wrong. [If you're not aware, missionaries regularly receive transfers to work in different areas or with different missionaries.  Just part of the mission culture]. Good times.
I was reading a bit about resurrection this morning. Christ was the very first one to get resurrected, right? He, obviously, had lots of faith! It's kind of like someone telling you to jump off a cliff and saying you won't get hurt. You do it because you trust the person, but the fall down would be terrifying. I had never really thought about it like that before.
What causes languages to change over time?
Thanks Camie, Sister Hines, Alex, Sister Christensen, Cassie, and family for the letters this week! Awesome to hear from all of you!
Love you all so much, merry almost Christmas,
Elder Johnson

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

26 November 2012

Dear Family and Friends,
We got calls last night. Remember how I said there's a 50% chance that Sawyer and I stay together and a 100% chance he goes ZL? Well, he went Zone Leader and we are no longer companions. However, the 50% thing was spot on. I'm getting inter-zoned to a different apartment just up the block. I got the shaft of it all: lost our big apartment with an amazing view, lost my swagger wagon (van), and lost my companion, and it's looking like I'll get the worse Spanish area. They are putting 6 Spanish missionaries in the Spanish branch instead of four so our areas will be moved around. I'll be taking over ours and to say I'm a little nervous doesn't do it justice. I'm predicting a hard transfer. I will know my new companion on Wednesday.
My new address is 1334 Ave B #174, Yuma AZ. I'm close enough to my old house that any letters I haven't received yet can be picked up any day. I'm seriously only moving 2 blocks.
This was a fun week. We ate Thanksgiving dinner at a member's house and had a good time. I'm not a big fan of being painfully full but I'd rather be that than painfully hungry. Afterwards we got invited to an investigator's house for some food. They're going to get baptized.
Remember our recent convert to the Spanish branch a few weeks ago? The one whose family is now investigating? The ones who were going to get baptized by their recent convert father? Yeah, well things were going really well with them. Really well. The daughters really wanted to get baptized and the mother was overcoming her concerns. Then she asked us for a triple combination so she could cross reference scriptures. The next day we went over and she had clearly stumbled into some anti-Mormon literature. She was pulling out all these deep doctrine scriptures that made everything seem terrible, commenting on the cursed Lamanites skin, etc. It was bad. I was on exchanges that day and the Elder I was with didn't do much. The lesson went horribly and the rest of the day was bad. We went home after that and took a 30 minute breather so that I could recuperate from the stress. It was really bad. Anyway, we've been working with them slowly and have found her real concern which was that she was afraid of concern. We brought some great fellow-shippers over and have settled most of her concerns. Now the trouble is putting them all back on date for baptism. I'll be doing that without Sawyer and with my new companion.
We have one investigator who is progressing very quickly. We've taught her probably five times and she has taken right to everything we've said. She has a very strong understanding of the Bible. We will be helping her overcome her addiction to smoking, the only thing standing in the way. Not too worried about it, she has lots of faith. Our lessons with her have usually been on the longer side since she's a talker; around 45 minutes to an hour. We have been strongly encouraged to teach 15-30 minute lessons and get out so that you don't satisfy their spiritual needs so they want you to come back the next day. Well, we were getting ready to leave this week after an hour long lesson and she said, in Spanish, "You guys always leave so early! Why? Every time you come over I always feel...just better. I'm happier and feel like I'm learning a lot. I'm drawing closer to God and understanding verses I've never understood before. When you guys come you bring light with you. Thank you. Thanks you. Thank you." It was pretty great to hear something like that. She will likely be baptized the 3rd week of teaching her - a fast one.
There were 3 baptisms in the district this past weekend, none of ours. Elder Sawyer and I went to each one. Very....unique baptisms. The first one was ridiculously long. It started off wrong when the other Elders noticed that the baptism before theirs had drained the font and locked the font doors. Bad start. It went on to start 30 minutes later and have lots of people running in and out of it making loud, loud noises. While they were changing, their ward suggested really weird hymns to sing that no one knew. I almost requested #233, Nay Speak No Ill, the song that no one knows. But the spirit was already gone haha. The pianist was lost, the singing was terrible... I'm pretty sure the Elders who baptized her were losing hair over it.
The next baptism was the Sisters'. They were baptizing an over age youth with two less active parents. Actually, a less active father and his girlfriend. Well, fast forward to after the baptism. The Bishop got up to do his welcome and ended up talking for 30 an 11 yr old girl. And then for the closing prayer, the girl's father's girlfriend (whew) got up and gave the most interesting prayer I've ever heard. She bore her testimony in her prayer and spoke to the girl...all during the prayer. The baptisms were great, just interesting.
 The baptism was even better because Elder Boyd ripped a huge hole in his pants. It was so bad that we had to take him to the library and fix it. Since none of us can sew, we ended up taping his pants and coloring the tape black hahaha. It was pretty ridiculous looking. It was a pretty bad repair job because by the end of the service had ripped twice the size. 
There was a big debate in the YSA branch about legally wrong vs. morally wrong and the thin lines between the two. Interesting situation, that. You can make a good debate on either side I think
Last night I got to bless my first home. We went over to a members home who is, according to her, Palestinian. Raised in Jerusalem a Muslim and converted to the LDS church 2 years ago when she married her Mexican husband. I think they're the most diverse couple in Yuma and one of the coolest. He was watching a movie on his new 3D TV yesterday so I got to see it just for a second. But then afterwards they told us about a spirit that had been haunting their home and stuff. I kept an open mind since I'd never... well, I kept an open mind about it. They asked us to bless it and I did. It was definitely a unique experience. But afterwards they taught me how to throw punches. Both of them were boxers growing up and pretty competitive ones at that. They asked if I'd ever gotten in a fight since I'm big and from the DC area and when I said no he laughed and brought out all their boxing gear. Now I can throw a sweet punch and a left hand jab. Unstoppable! "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing..." I'm basically invincible now.
Not a ton else happened this week. It was a harder week in the mission - most of our lessons cancelled and things were just hard finding people. I'll miss being Elder Sawyer's companion. We had an awesome 12 weeks. We're both glad we'll still be in the same zone.
Thanks Natalia, Jamie, and the Arlington Ward Young Men for the letters/package this week! [He left his mom out and Eric and William who write weekly letters. . .] You're all great! Letters will be sent to everyone from last week and this week today, I promise.
Con amor,
Elder Johnson

Monday, November 19, 2012

19 November 2012

Dear Family and Friends,
Ok, transfer calls are next Sunday night. 50% chance of me staying but 100% chance of Sawyer going Zone Leader either here or in Mesa. Also, P-day is weird today only from 10-12. P-day is continued next week from 1pm-9pm since it's Thanksgiving. As such, I won't have time to write anyone today.
We had an awesome week this week! As I said last week, we've cut back on all the little obedience problems we've had and have seen results. The "big" thing we were doing wrong was a couple days a week doing the 6:30am nap. That is, roll out of bed, crawl to living room, take 30 minute nap on ground, get up and get ready. We have been going to the gym every morning which has woken us up quicker and been a good workout as well.
Why was this week awesome? We baptized one into the YSA branch which means in the last 3 weeks we have baptized one person into every unit we cover. But wait, there's more! We found 12 new investigators in the last 8 days, at least one a day, and 5 of them are on date. Three of those five are the family members of our recent convert into the spanish branch. His wife and kids hated us but at the baptism I felt inspired to promise him that whichever of his family members attended the baptism would also get baptized. And now every one of them that attended (wife and 2 of the 3 kids) are on date to get baptized next week. It will be unreal to see him baptize his family 2 weeks after his baptism. Unreal. It has also been inspiring to see their hearts change after his baptism. They are amazed at how he has quit smoking, drinking, and all his other bad habits and has become a family man. He even got his boss to give him Sundays off at work where he worked 7 days a week 12-16 hours a day. Ahhh successsssssssssss!
 It was good for other reasons as well. We taught 12 member- present lessons with 8 other lessons (no member present) which equals the standards of excellence for the mission. We have 7 progressing investigators and taught a total of 21 lessons last week, one to a recent convert. Sawyer said this has been the best week of his mission.
Last Monday night we were walking around a sketchy trailer park looking for people. Usually we don't have to go through trailer parks since Mexicans own houses down here but that night we did for whatever reason. We saw this guy in his 20s with a long hoodie and pants way too big for him walking out of a trailer. I walked over to him and said, "hi!" He looked really quickly at us and ran really quickly towards a wall. We were kind of laughing not knowing where he would go when he jumped the 10 foot wall. When he was on top he briefly looked back at me and I said, "We are sharing a message about Jesus Ch.." and then he jumped down the other side and took off running. Classic haha.
That same night we were coming back and ran into some new neighbors. We introduced ourselves and they asked some questions which we answered. He advised us to not walk down a certain street because of some gang activity that had happened. We told him we had just been on that street. He looked carefully at us and said, "Man, I know you guys wouldn't ever do anything to hurt someone, but if you ever have someone bugging you, just tell me." He then proceeded to pull out a giant pistol from his pants and said, "I'm in the Marines. I'm here for ya'll." Yup.
We also had a fun experience with a potential investigator we have, or rather, had. We went over to her house and saw her and her daughter making food in their kitchen. They both looked at us and the mother, our potential investigator, ran away. The daughter walked over and found her Dad and brought him to the door. He told us that Maria, our potential investigator, was out of town. I asked who the other woman was and he said, "oh, that was Maria...I mean Martha!" Busted. We probably won't try back there. He was a terrible liar. haha
I went on exchanges this week to do some English work with one of the zone leaders. English work is a lot different than spanish work. No wonder there is animosity between the two types of missionaries here. For the 8 hours I was with him that day, we spent all but 45 minutes hanging out at members' homes. Those 45 minutes were at a lesson that evening. I was going crazy sitting in the car all day driving from members house to members house. The lesson was a good one though. Their investigator is 15 and going through more than most 15 year olds have or ever should. But it was a good exchange in the end. Met some crazy members who think that a secession is needed since Obama was reelected and one even said we may need a second revolutionary war. I didn't say anything at those houses. We also had a pretty funny experience with two lessons cancelling. One of them called us to cancel and while we were on the phone with him the other lesson left a message cancelling. That was two lessons cancelled within 60 seconds. At least we got notice though. In most of the spanish areas they don't even have telephones and you won't know they've cancelled till after you've arrived.
The Stake Fiesta was a couple of nights ago. There were over 800 people in attendance with dancers and a mariachi band. The dancing group performed at the worldwide competition in South Korea last year and were pretty impressive. Sometimes I think that Latino dancing is just throwing your body in whichever way you can. It's controlled chaos. I would send a video home but they're probably too big (filesize). They gave us spanish missionaries some weird bowtie thing to wear but Sawyer and I just wore it over our shoulders. See pics.

The Marine Corp Air Station is getting F-35's! One landed last week on the 17th. I'll be keeping my eyes open for when they fly. Apparently no civilians knew they were coming in until the minute it landed. Our YSA branch has a lot of people involved in MCAS and it has been fun talking to them about it. Haha Dad just sent me an article about it.
 Our baptism this week was a miracle I think. The person we baptized, we'll call him John, we found at 8:45 while walking down a street. Usually OYMs, or street contacts, don't turn into anything. Although the opposite has been true for us. We're about to get 5 baptisms off OYMing. Anyway, we set up a return appointment and he wasn't there. We went back 2 weeks later and taught him the worst lesson in the world. Terrible. Awful. Words cannot express. The spirit just wasn't there. But 2 weeks later he was ready to get baptized. We ended up pushing the baptism back another week for other reasons and he was baptized on Saturday. He was pretty nervous the week before and was thinking about pulling out. The Yuma Zone did a fast that day and the next day for our lesson he said he got his answer and was excited to be baptized. Really cool. There was a big turnout from the YSA branch and this baptism was the first in the branch since the branch is only 2 months old. Hopefully it jump-starts some missionary work.
The Primary program for the Rio Colorado spanish branch was yesterday too. They used a recording on a CD to play the music for the kids to sing to haha. Remember the man we baptized into that branch a few weeks ago? The one whose family is now taking discussions and getting baptized next week? Yeah, them. Well, the 9 year old daughter decided she wanted to be involved in the primary program so she walked up when all the kids did and tried her best to sing the parts. She had never attended the practices. They even gave her a line to read from the podium. I wish you guys could have seen how happy her parents were.
 Last night we saw a giant meteor fly across the sky. It was visible for probably 5 seconds, bright white and very slow. We were teaching a guy on the street and we were all awestruck by it.
We actually saw it in a super sketchy neighborhood. As we were walking back to the car we saw this guy ~20 years old. He saw us and started circling around us so we walked towards him. We waved and said hi and he said, "**** you guys, I thought you were someone else! Mormons, right?" He was baptized 6 years ago, has been in jail, but wants to come to Church. What are the chances? He told us that if we hadn't been missionaries, he would have attacked us. I told him half jokingly that we could have taken him. He pulled some brass knuckles out of his pocket and said that we shouldn't be in this neighborhood after dark. Hm.
 Thanks Natalia, Grandpa, Mom, Eric, Will, Ian, and Annie for the letters this week! I'll be able to write back on Thursday unless we get signed up for 6 dinners...hopefully that doesn't happen. One is good for me.
Can someone send me the wiki entry on the holy bible?
Thank you all for all you guys do!
With love,
Elder Johnson

12 November 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm pretty sure I'm getting transferred out of Yuma this transfer. I still have two more weeks here which I will be sure to enjoy. It's too bad that it is happening now that we have turned Yuma around and miracles are happening. Rumors have me off to Mesa to whitewash in (again...), whitewashing into the Sisters area in Yuma, or off somewhere else. It would be different being in the valley for Christmas time. There's a slim chance I stay but again these are all rumors.

This was kind of an interesting week. As far as work goes, it was awesome. We got seven new investigators this week with 23 teaching opportunities - almost half of the total teaching opportunities for all missionaries in Yuma. Things are going really well and it looks like we could get four more baptisms this month which would be half of all Yuma zones goal for monthly baptisms. It's all falling into place now.

This last week was zone conference. I was going to type up my notes and email them home but I forgot them so this will mostly be from memory. President Howes came down and gave a great training on extending commitments, following up, and addressing concerns. There has been  a lot of emphasis recently on 15-20 minute lessons and stopping by about everyday for a little bit of time. Since Sawyer and I started doing that we have had a lot more success. There was also a training given by the Assistants to the President (APs) on how to do street contacting, or OYMing, better. They emphasized bringing up the restoration asap and focusing it around that and the Book of Mormon. Sawyer and I have changed how we OYM'd too to fit that and we have gotten 7 new investigators from them. 

One of the APs came on exchanges with Sawyer and me this week. We were a trio for the evening and ran into an interesting man right off the bat. His view was that the authority was never lost from the Earth after Christ died and that he was working on finding his own apostles. We tried to get him to understand what we were trying to say but he wouldn't listen. We gave some good apostasy scriptures but he actually had some impressive rebuttals. When we got back in the car, the AP was pretty upset at him for being so stubborn. I chimed in and said that's like what we're like as missionaries; trying to help someone understand a different point of view and getting angry doesn't really accomplish anything in the eternal scheme of things. It also drives away the spirit. That is something I've seen a lot on exchanges that if someone we talk to disagrees the missionary gets angry and calls them anti and whatnot. I put myself in their (the person on the street) and that helps me understand how we seem to them. We come across just as stubborn even if we don't mean to. They say contention is of the devil. Doesn't accomplish much.

I got to go on exchanges with Elder Mackay this week. He's an English missionary here in Yuma - a really good guy. We went over to a dinner appointment the other night and, well, it was interesting to say the least. Elder Mackay said it was the weirdest dinner of his life. We walked in and heard screaming. Really, really, REALLY loud screaming. Turns out they were Mackaws (spelling? The big tropical birds?). She had three of them in a giant cage that was directly adjacent the dinner table. As we walked closer, the wife said, "that may look like Lasagna, but it isn't. It's spaghetti and (something else I don't remember...a weird fruit) and cheese on top. It kind of fell over in the oven so it looks weird." I dished myself a serving first and she said, "oh no, more more!" I said, "I'll start with this then go up." I took about a 3x3" serving which was already a lot. Saying it tasted funky doesn't do it justice. She spent the entire dinner complaining about the election and how she is broke now (two days after the election) and how the country is ruined. I sat silently. But then I got her talking about missionary work and she had a good time there. After some time the Mackaw got out of the cage and started running around on top making one of the loudest sounds I've ever heard. The woman started talking to it and calling it one of her kids. Hm. Well, we got up to carry our dishes over before dessert (you get those in english work) and one of the other Mackaws jumped over to the wall and reached its talon out and grabbed Elder Mackay by the shirt and tried to, from where I was sitting, eat him alive. It was hilarious and he got scared and jumped past. Hilarious.

There has been a ton of dust in the air these last week. I was hoping for a dust storm, like a wall 300 feet high of dust, but it just came in with wind and was spread out enough to make it not impressive, just annoying. Our car is disgusting and our bikes are pretty dirty now. 

We learned this week that an apostle is coming to the mission! Elder Cook is coming on December 7th as well as some other relatively important people. It should be exciting. We're pretty sure he is going to come and bash the mission for not having as good results as we should. We are down 70 baptisms from last year and not living up to our reputation as the highest baptizing in the southwest with the highest retention rate. So I'm bracing myself for getting (more) humbled.

The weather has started to drop in Yuma. It's actually unbelievably nice. It has been in the 60s all week. While I'm in heaven, the 'natives' are starting to bundle up in coats and hats and walk around the house in blankets. We ran into an incredibly drunk man stumbling around and he was going off and off about how cold it was. He called us his angels because we came out of nowhere to him in his time of need. He didn't talk to us anymore because he started running the opposite direction yelling, "no mercy, no mercy, San Antonio!" but it was pretty cool to show up just as someone needed us even if we didn't really do anything other than testify.

We ran into the nicest woman in Yuma this week too. She was ~50 years old and from Mexicali, Mexico. We talked to her on the street for about 15 minutes and she asked how long we had been speaking spanish. Sawyer said 18 months (as of yesterday) and I said more or less 4. She was super nice and complimented my spanish. I could understand almost everything she was saying - she spoke really clearly. That was a cool experience.

One of our ward missionaries, Brother Borgerson, volunteered to drive down to San Luis to pick up an English investigator we have down there. It's about a one hour roundtrip drive. That family is awesome. We taught our recent convert into the Yuma Valley ward at their house every time and they have an amazing spirit in the house. Just a great family.

Elder Sawyer and I started walking into a trailer park this week and found a woman who has since said that she wanted to get baptized. When we walked into her trailer, her daughter was there, about 26 yrs old, and we talked to them about baptism and authority. We found out that the 26 year old works with the above-mentioned recent convert and has noticed her completely change her life around and is so much happier. What are the chances! We find someone in a small spanish trailer park who works with someone who lives 15 minutes away in a house on a farm who has noticed her life change since baptism. It was a cool experience and when we told the recent convert about it she was thrilled. 

Two nights ago at about 5 am a really loud beeping sound went off in the house. It went off about once a minute for an hour and a half and was probably the most annoying thing I've heard in a long time. Neither Sawyer nor I wanted to get out of bed so we just dealt with it. Apparently he fell back to sleep but I couldn't. At 6:30 when we got up, it was still going off and I hadn't slept since it started. Dang I'm lazy in the mornings. Once I got out of bed I went to find what it was and noticed it was the fire alarm. Apparently the battery is running low. So I grabbed a chair and pulled the batter out. but it kept going off.... I tried to unplug the wire but it was glued on for some insane reason so I had Sawyer grab me a knife and we cut around the wire to get it off. Who needs a fire alarm anyway? 

Carne Asada is amazing.

I called the election. How much did he win by?

We were talking to our recent convert into the Rio Colorado branch yesterday and he was telling us about when he went to pick up food stamps from DES and they made him wait 7 hours. He said that when he was called, "I got up, started yelling, and ran over to grab them! It was like I won the lottery!" Hilarious. He's so funny. His daughters and wife are now taking discussions since they've seen him change so much. They're going to pull me out of Yuma before we baptize his family of 5! Bah!! Oh well, I guess it only matters that they get baptized. 

We actually had breakfast with him this morning. It was Menudo. So much for getting through my mission without having it. The LeRoy family invited us over and his family and we went and talked for a bit and ate. It was a great time and the LeRoy's are amazing cooks. I think if I were to have had Menudo anywhere, their house was the place to have it. Cow stomach lining soup with bones and corn and who knows what else. Apparently sucking the bone marrow out gives good flavor too. Let me tell you, it doesn't. The actual cow stomach lining meat(?) has the weirdest most uncomfortable texture in the world. 

That was the last week. For time's sake I'll quit there but it was a great week. Hopefully they'll continue to get this way. The Stake President said he wants to split the stake for the first time since its creation in 1954. I joke that it will be because we baptize an entire spanish stake down here.

Thanks Mom, Eric, Will, Doug, Cami, Jamie, Arlington 2nd ward primary!, Aunt Andra (penne and chocolate milk, they don't sell penne down here), Sister Hines, and Katie! Thank you for the great letters this week! It's fun to hear what's going on in all your lives!

How do copy machines work?
Can someone send me the wikipedia article on Jehovah's Witnesses? We find their literature all over the place and read it. Interesting stuff, I guess. They all hate us.
How specifically were the first 12 apostles martyred?

Love you all, thanks for the support!

Elder Johnson