Saturday, August 18, 2012

16 August 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

When does Mark get back? [October 2]

This week wasn't anything super special, just another super fast week.

On Thursdays, since Prep Day ends at 6pm, we go to something called TRC. Don't ask me what it stands for. But once there, we split off in our companionships and teach just a one timer lesson with volunteers. It has become my favorite part of the MTC. Last week we taught a native Chilean who had immigrated to the USA. It is way fun teaching and trying to understand Spanish, and even more fun when you do. Tonight we have our first 40 minute lesson. In the past, for week 2 and 3, we went into TRC (Again, these are in small rooms, 2 missionaries, 1 investigator) with lessons prepared. For the last 4 weeks, we have not [done this activity]. We walk in, get to know the person, and talk on a topic that is relevant to any questions or concerns the person may have. These lessons are usually twenty minutes long and tonight will be a challenge because we have to find a way to teach for 40 minutes. I think it should be fine. We'll probably spend a bit more time getting to know them and more and more time getting the investigator involved in the lesson as that has been something we have been working on improving upon. It has also started to be the case that we can teach with little to no preparation. That said, we try to prep as much as possible anyway.

Speaking of teaching, this week we did something we've never done before. Hermana Olsen, our teacher, has been out of town for 1.5 weeks and came back last week. One of the days she was back, the other three Elders had to go to the hospital for a non-serious problem. It was Elder Myler, both Hermanas, and our teacher for that whole class period. She bailed on her original lesson plan and we had her teach the four of us the first lesson. It was about 30 minutes long and unbelievably good. We were all a little bummed when it ended. The spirit was strong and we were all involved in the lesson. Afterwards, she had us teach each other, Elder Myler and I teaching the Hermanas one on one. Hermana Olsen said that before the Elders/teachers responded to anything the Hermanas said, we had to count to 10 in our heads. This, at the start, was awkward. In a society so dominated by noise, silence is very awkward. However, the more we did it, the better it felt. What it did was to force us to listen to the spirit and any small prompting we may have to take the lesson in a certain direction. We also worked to keep our minds blank while one of the Hermanas said something. It turned out to be the best lesson either of us had ever taught (it was also in English...). Hermana White, the person I taught, afterwards said that I took the lesson in the exact direction she wanted me to take it without saying anything, and the way I took it was different than I had originally planned. It was a very unique experience.

I ran into a sister missionary going to DC South. If you live there, keep your eye open for Sister Stone. Turns out that I am going to her home mission too. Small world.

This past Sunday our District of 7 people total had the opportunity to hold sacrament meeting for the cafeteria workers. Hermana White and I spoke, she on love, me on informal missionary work. I spoke on how casual it can be, even mentioning information at a workplace or school or to friends. It went well and it was a neat experience. On the way back, I saw a quote on the wall. I think that you, Dad, have paraphrased it before. It was, "When obedience ceases to become an irritant and becomes a quest, at that moment God will endow us with power." Elder Myler and I had to teach for district meeting later that night about faith and I used the given quote. I like how it says quest. Quest implies something grand with a great reward at the end. Monty Python and the Holy Grail comes to mind. People traveled far, sacrificed much, but at the end, got eaten by a rabbit. What a great reward.

Later on in that same lesson I mentioned that our district has been doing blind walks to build trust, although in reality it is more just for fun. We will walk all the way back from the classroom (~2 min walk) with one person guiding the other (who has their eyes closed) from a distance. It is tricky and builds trust in the other. I mentioned how that is like faith in God. We are guided by something we cannot see but in the end, we are assisted in getting to our destination. On the way back, people try to distract you and pull you off course. The same is true for temptation as it is ever-present but is there to slow and harm you. At one point I walked into a sign. Guess I can't trust that Elder again...

Every Tuesday and Sunday at the MTC, we have a devotional. I'm still waiting for when a member of the Quorum of the 12 or President comes, but the last one was pretty great. At one point, the speaker called for all who were baptized in the last 2 years to stand. He then said, "Now I want you to come up (pause........), I will choose two of you." One of these converts was standing up right behind us and in the time that he paused, his district yelled at him to go up and he literally ran up. In the meantime, the speaker chose the two. He interviewed each one and when he turned around and saw a third missionary there, he was quite surprised and said, "Now, I can't wait to hear from Elder _____, I'm sure he'll be the icing on the cake." We were all laughing in the corner. No one else in the room with 2300 missionaries knew why it was so funny. When the Elder was finally interviewed, he said things like, "I'm from the Garden of Eden," with a super awkward pause and many other very awkward things. It turned out to be hilarious but a strong message of faith on how prayers are answered.

So I still haven't figured out who sent me those shoes. Thanks again whoever did, they're like walking on clouds. I think my feet are still growing though since my toes almost touch the end of them...they're size 14.

Yesterday I officially finished my first mission planner. They last 6 weeks and you plan out hour by hour what you will do the next day in it. On to number two. I'm writing the dates that I used them on the front so that I know they're retired and that I can read them later.

We went to the temple today and performed sealings for the first time. Elder Myler and I went into a small room with two other missionaries from our zone and two proxy couples. I learned some interesting things. First, proxy work for those deceased is very clear in the Old/New Testament. I mean, Jesus Christ and the atonement was the epitome of proxy work because it applied to all people, anytime, anywhere, living or deceased. The second was something that the sealer said. He said, "If you cannot complete a two year mission, you cannot complete mortality or immortality with an eternal companion. I have been married for 53 years and it is easy! It's all about making and keeping commitments." The spirit was strong and it was a very peaceful morning.

One of the proxy representatives had the last name Lindberg. I went up to her afterwards and asked if there was any relation to Charles Lindberg. She said it was distant but they were indeed related. It was cool meeting a descendant of one of, arguably, the most important men in aviation history.

On our way back from the temple today, we stumbled upon a free tie box. Inside were hundreds of ties. I grabbed a bunch and plan on trading them if possible. I'm going to participate in the black market. Unfortunately, they're hideous ties. No wonder they were free. I'd want to get rid of them too.

I may or may not have torn/separated a muscle in my arm. We were playing soccer and someone corner kicked it. I jumped up to hit it away (which, just to get it out of the way, I did) while someone on the other team was running forward. He slipped and hit me while I was in the air and I fell hard on my shoulder.  I'm not planning on getting it checked out but I'll let you know if it is still bad in a weeks time.

20 days left!

Thank you Aunt Andra, Dad, Mom, Eric, Will, Natalia, Tori, Doug, and Grandpa and Grandma Johnson for the letters and package! It was a great week. Replies are in the mail. If I forgot anyone, sorry, I write down all I get but sometimes one slips past me.

Thank you all so much for the letters and care, it means so much and is nice to hear of the "outside world" and how family and friends are doing.

With lots of love,

Elder Johnson

PS: Romney chose Paul Ryan as a running mate? Why on earth... he was struggling with moderate votes, not republican votes. Ryan is Palin of the 2012 election, he doesn't need more republican-ness in his platform.

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