Thursday, July 26, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
First week here, crazy... This shift button works half the time so there may be some problems. The time is at 28:01 minutes.
First week here, crazy... This shift button works half the time so there may be some problems. The time is at 28:01 minutes.
We've done so much this week. Between two devotionals/meetings/4 hours+ of class per day/2 hours+ of personal study per day, this week has been an insane rush. But it has been an amazing rush.
I was the first one in our room on the first day, I walked to our room with my escort. I chose the bed closest to the AC and furthest from the door. Smart choice. The rooms are scalding since the AC doesn't work and body heat generated by the four of us in the room really builds up.
My companion, Elder Myler, is from Eagle, ID. He is going to Tempe, AZ spanish speaking too. We share the room with Elder Shreeve (Kuna, ID, going to Canada spanish speaking) and Elder Jacobson (SLC going to Tempe Spanish speaking). We have four other elders in our district and four sisters. Elder Thorsen (Dallas, TX to lima central), Elder diaz galarza (Cali to lima), Elder adams (dallas to lima) and elder peterson (NJ to Lima). hermana white is going tempe, hermana maier is going tempe, hermana crawford is going tempe, and hermana diCarolo (from italy, going california). she knows about Formula 1! She is a ferrari fan and scolded me when i said i liked McLaren. speaking of, dad, who won at Silverstone?? WDC and WCC Standings? We all get along great and everyone is excited to work hard. We all have at least two years of spanish history and no more than three.
We were rushed through meetings, classes that are only in spanish, more meetings, a short meal, and more meetings on the first day. i dont remember any of it.
We pray everynight as a room companionship in spanish and we try to only pray in spanish so that we can practice more and more. it's starting to come back.
The zone leader when we got here was named Elder brown and Elder Tonga. Elder Brown is going to DC North. He's a great guy and will be speaking spanish. keep your eyes open for a tall, blond haired elder from California speaking spanish. i told him that if he ever goes to DC South to check out the Arlington 2 Ward. i've been telling him about the area and why it's the second best mission (tempe being first). He taught me this awesome knot that i have a picture of but since i can't upload pictures from the MTC you will only see it if i mail a card home. I'll need another one to use while It's gone.
I've seen a lot of people I know. 10+ from BYU, The Goodsell's (going croatian speaking, also happen to be in the MTC at the same time as their son who they see everyday). I ran into Jared the other day and also Cassie, among others. Cassie leaves next week so we got a picture together. (I just found out two hermanas sitting behind me live in the DC north mission. small world)
So in our class, taught by Hermana Olsen (served in Spokane, WA spanish speaking, got back 9 months ago and has been working at the MTC for 4 months), we speak spanish only in the classroom. if we really need help she'll break into English to explain. I have a tendency to make up words and I kid you not, 50% of the time I am right. It is absurd and she laughs because somehow I am right. gift of tongues, yo. Or my genius leaking out. She's a great teacher.
We taught our first three lessons last week, all in spanish and over 15 mins each. We are teaching Julio (MTC teacher but he doesnt know that we know that). We have taught him about the Word of Wisdom, the Spirit, the restoration, and yesterday, committed him to baptism. I went off script beause i felt i should explain why we get baptized at 8. Since fictional Julio is catholic, I explained why we were baptized at age 8; since it is the age of accountability. I didnt know any of the words so i said, "a el ano de ocho, nosotros bautizadomos porque es el ano de....accountabilidad." I thought I made that word up but it means accountability. Good times.
On our first Sunday, we all had to rush to church. I grabbed the wrong suit jacket for the suit pants I was wearing and didn't notice till 12. Blue doesn't go with grey striped.
We found out yesterday while we were practicaring espanol that our class is three weeks ahead of schedule. Hermana Olsen's MTC companion actually works at the MTC and came to analyze Hermana Olsen yesterday. She let us know how far ahead we were and how surprised she was. Guess that means we got her good marks.
I FOUND OUT THAT ON P-DAYS WE CAN TAKE NAPS. My life was made.
Due to the chaos of the first week and how we are always busy, I was having a hard time feeling the holy ghost. Apparently the other elders were too. We prayed that we would be able to better recognize it despite our schedule. My prayer was answered two days ago, it was almost overwhelming. I felt prompted to write in the front of my Book of mormon/bible, "how could you not believe." It wasn't even a question. It has been significally easier since then.
The best quote of the week was either, "tengo gas-o" or "I was dating her for three years, she just didn't know it." Needless to say, our spangilsh is exceptional.
Here's an example of my schedule, we only have 4 mins left.
7:20 - Breakfast
7:50-8:40 - Study history of prophets
8:50-9:40 - Gym (Elder Diaz Galarza and i run about 3 miles a day then head back a bit early to catch the showers before they explode with people)
10:10-11:00 - TALL (computer language learning)
11;00-12:00 - personal language study
12:00-12:30 - Lunch
12:45-1:55 - Personal language study
2:00 - 5:00 - language class with hermana olsen. this is the fastest three hours of the day, shes a great teacher
5:00 - 5:30 - Dinner
7:00-8:00 - Devotional
8-9 Devotional review
9-9:30 planning for next day
10-10:30 journal entry
It's crazy but it's so fun. our district is great.
Thursday is my Pday but they let us write letters for 50 minutes on tuesday mornings. We can check the mail everyday but reply only twice per week. it's nice picking up mail. Dear Elder works great.
it's a good thing i can write 130 words per min (this keyboard izsnt working well though so it's lower) so i can say more. I outlined what I wanted to type this week so the 30 mins was all typing and no thinking.
Random questions and comments below:
Dad, you served Portland Oregon, right? did you know an Elder Shreeve? My Elder Shreeve said his Dad is 43-46 and served in Portland, OR. he met his wife there too. that would be crazy if you were with an Elder Shreeve and I was with his son,.
What year did Orson Hyde dedicate Palestine for the returning of the jews? I read about that yesterday. It must have been mid 1800's, a cool prophecy to what happened when the UN signed it over to the jews.
Thanks you aunt Carmen for the package and Taffy, that was actually the best taffy i've ever had.
Also, thanks for the letter Grandpa. it's nice to keep up with your journal entries and life while i'm gone.
Yo se que el libro de mormon es las palabras de los profetas, yo se que jesucristo es unes salvador.
Love you all,
Friday, July 6, 2012
|Grandma and Grandpa Johnson were in Arlington to say goodbye to Paul.|
|Andrew Hall, Elder Johnson, Ryan Hall|
(Aunt Carmen and Uncle Bruce kindly picked Paul up from the airport, hosted him overnight and delivered him to the MTC)
|Elder Johnson meeting his host at the MTC who will guide him around for a little while.|
|Rainy day. . . a blessing for Utah since they've been suffering from fires and drought.|
|A lot of missionaries began their missions on July 5, 2012. Many more than this!|
Posted by Medley at 1:45 PM
Monday, July 2, 2012
Below is the talk I delivered July 1, 2012, as I prepared to leave for the Missionary Training Center on Wednesday of that same week.
Good afternoon brothers and sisters, my name is Paul Johnson. I have lived in this ward for my entire life and this day has arrived quicker than I ever anticipated. I spent the last year attending Brigham Young University in Provo, UT where I am majoring in Political Science. I have been called to serve a mission in the Tempe Arizona mission where I will be speaking Spanish. Hablo un poquito espanol. I leave July 4th for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.
Perhaps the most asked question is, “what is the meaning of life?” Ever have philosophers, scientists, and the religious sought the answer to this seemingly mundane question. Fortunately, this Church has the answer to this very question: to learn to be like God and return to his presence.
Moses 1:39 sums up not only our purpose in life but also the reason behind the Plan of Salvation. It says, “For behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” This was my favorite scripture mastery, not only because it is one of the shortest, but also because in its simplicity is great depth. By teaching what Gods purpose is, it tells us what our purpose should be. The Plan of Salvation separates the Latter Day Saints from all other churches. Only something divinely inspired could be so perfect.
Simply put, the plan of salvation explains what we did before we came to earth, why we came, what we must do on Earth, how we get back to heaven, and what happens when we get back to heaven.
When I was in young mens all those many years ago, Spencer Oscarson would have one of us get in front of the group each week and explain the Plan of Salvation in under sixty seconds. This was no easy task and proved to be so hard that he introduced a little drawing he had used on his mission to illustrate to his investigators each aspect of the plan of salvation.
The drawing, which, again, was just a brief summary, began with a picture of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and an anonymous person. This person is you and I. Now the first step in our lives came when chose to come to Earth. We chose to follow Heavenly Father’s plan and come to Earth; however, we had to pass through a veil of forgetfulness so that we could be tried and practice faith. We were given two things as we came to Earth. The diagram was illustrated with two literal gifts, representing a body and moral agency. The next step in the diagram shows a drawing of Earth, our destination. Once here, we would be tried in all manners of ways. The diagram shows that after we passed on from this life, we had to overcome two barriers represented by two walls. In the drawing, one wall had a ramp leading over it and the other had stairs. The ramp was there because overcoming physical death is given as a free gift to all due to the atonement. It is an obstacle that everyone overcomes. The diagram showed that the next wall had four steps leading over it. This wall represented spiritual death, something that takes work on our part to overcome. The four steps represent the principles taught in the fourth article of faith, or Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism by immersion, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. According to Joseph Smith, faith allows us to, “readily discover that it is faith and faith only which is the motivating cause in all action in them and that without it, both mind and body, we would be in a state of inactivity.” It is through faith in the Lord that helps us climb those steps. Acts 2:37 states the importance of repentance and baptism. It says, “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Lastly, the gift of the Holy Ghost, for those who have been baptized, is a source of continual guidance and inspiration. To overcome spiritual death, or rather return to God’s presence, these four things must be done. After they are accomplished, repentance through the atonement must be an integral part of ones day-to-day life so that we may remain worthy to return to heaven.
In our pre-mortal lives, we all lived as spirit children in heaven. While in heaven, we developed identities and increased our spiritual capacities. We came to the point where the next step in our progression was to come to earth to gain experience and a greater understanding of all things.
Mortal life is perhaps the most important time of progression. Here, we are tried in all aspects. Temptation is aplenty but it is through faith in the Lord that we are able to overcome it. When we do, we are blessed with a stronger testimony and a personal testimony to the power of prayer and strength that we get from prayer. Batman isn’t often quoted from the stand, but he had it just right in a batman movie when it was said, “Why do we fall, Mr. Wayne?” The response was perfect. “so we can learn to pick ourselves back up again.” I think this is a great example of how we can learn from our mistakes and use our shortcomings to strengthen ourselves.
A great example of this comes from Book of Mormon prophet Alma the Younger. During his younger years, he was the very definition of an Anti Christ. He caused havoc, broke laws, and worked to take down the Church of Christ. However, when he was shown his wrongs, he repented of his sins and was born a stronger man. He went on to become one of the great Book of Mormon prophets.
One of the most important aspects of mortal life is taking advantage of the atonement. The atonement is an integral part of the Plan of Salvation. Without it, we have no hope of returning to be with God. Jesus Christ came to earth and performed the atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross so that we may be forgiven of our sins. He felt the sorrows and pains that every single person, everywhere, anytime has ever felt. It is comforting to know that we are never alone in our trials and using the atonement to its fullest will allow us to make that crucial step of repentance.
Life after death starts when our body and spirit are separated as we await resurrection. Once we are judged and resurrected, the two are joined into a perfect, flawless being. Depending on how we lived our lives, we will be sent to one of three kingdoms. The terrestrial kingdom excels the Telestial kingdom, and the celestial kingdoms, “glory excels in all things – where God, even the father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever.” What a marvelous sounding place. My Book of Mormon teacher at BYU was often heard saying, “when asked what kingdom of glory we will be inheriting, we should always say Celestial, not because we are sure but because it helps us live our lives in a way to help us get there.” This principle is very similar to the “say no at a young age” advice we often hear because if you grow up thinking and planning on not doing something, chances are you will have an easier time avoiding it.
In Alma 36, Alma expresses the anguish he feels for the thought of becoming “extinct both in soul and body.” He said, “and for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.” However, when he repents just two verses later, he says something truly inspiring to his son. “And oh, what joy and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!” He continues to say, “Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.”
Elder Neal A Maxwell gave a great conference talk years ago about why it is important to have a testimony in the Plan of Salvation. He said that, “full faith in the Lord Jesus Christ includes and requires full faith in His Father’s plan of salvation.” Faith in these two things builds upon each other just as faith in the Book of Mormon builds on and provides further testament to the teachings of the Church.
Brothers and sisters, how does knowing these things affect our day-to-day lives? What changes can we make to better prepare ourselves and get ourselves spiritually clean?
Let me bare testimony of the sense of joy felt through repentance truly is remarkable. The Plan of Salvation is the fullness of the Gospel. It is the creation, the fall, the atonement, all laws, ordinances, and doctrines of the Church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is the true church and President Thomas S Monson is a prophet ordained of God, the only prophet with the authority to exercise all keys. I know that serving a mission is the right thing to do and I hope I can make the next two years the best years of my life. Add more here, tell story about mission interview.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.