Thursday, August 23, 2012

23 August 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Whew, time at the MTC FLIES by. We have 11 days left as of today and we're all starting to get excited to get out of the MTC.
Earlier this week I stumbled upon an Elder with a tiny Preach my Gospel. It is about the size of 2 notecards with all the pages, pictures, notes and everything of the full size one. I asked Hermana Olsen where I could get one (Since I'm worried about weight for my bags when I fly out. I planned on sending the full size ones home to save weight.) and she said since the Church didn't publish them, you have to go around and buy them and technically they're illegal. Well, I walked into the bookstore yesterday and apparently the church has just started publishing the "pocket sized" P my G's (Preach my Gosepls). I quickly bought one for an obscenely expensive $3.20. A steal. Spanish copies are coming this week and I'll buy one of those too. I will then send my English and Spanish full size P my Gs home to family where they can read whatever notes I have (I'm transfering mine over). I haven't taken a ton because I figure I still have 1.9 years left, no point over marking it now. Anyway, they're awesome and way more convenient.
At the MTC, Apostles, or Members of the Quorum of 12 Apostles (Think James, John....modern time though) try to make it to the MTC every 9 or so weeks. The week before we came to the MTC, there was a huge conference here where almost all the apostles came and all the mission presidents. All the missionaries here got to meet their presidents. I'm jealous. Anyway, we are running out of days here and we still had not had an apostle come speak at a devotional. On Monday night, in my nighly prayers, I asked if we could be blessed with the opportunity to hear an Apostle of God speak to us. I ended my prayers and thought nothing of it. The next day, devotional day, as we were singing in the choir, someone walked on stage. Immediately, the whole room stood up. I recognized the person as Elder Anderson, one of the 12 Apostles. Elder Myler leans over to me and goes, "Why is everyone standing up?" I excitedly said, "Elder Anderson!" He then said, "Who's that...OHHHHHHHHH" We won't let him live that one down. He delivered a great devotional about 10 things President Monson would have said if he was there (it was his birthday that day.) I don't remember them but one was, "Since you are on the Lord's errand, you are entitled to His help." Entitled to His help.What a powerful idea. Anyway, my prayer was very much answered. God knows the desires of our hearts before we do. Prayer is showing that we care enough to ask and have enough faith that we can receive the answer.
We just got back from the temple. We went an hour earlier than our scheduled time because there are lots of lines there. We did initiatories today. The spirit was so strong and I felt great feelings of peace as I was there. Since next week is our last P Day, we're toying with the idea of doing initiatories, endowment, and sealings in one day. That would be special.
For the entire time I have been here, I think as I have mentioned before, I have had a hard time sleeping. A couple of weeks ago Elder Myler and I went to the onsite doctor and I asked if I could get sleeping pills. He said no at the time but if it continues to come back. His concern was that I would wake up sleepy....which I did already since, you know, I wasn't sleeping. On Monday night I got a solid 3 hours of sleep which was enough proof for me to go back to the doctor. I had also woken up that night standing in the hallway. I told him it was time for the sleeping pills and he agreed. As I was walking to pick up the perscription, I ran into none other than Sister Wood, Roland's mom. She was driving up and pulled over and said hi and that she had just dropped off a package my mom sent. I said thanks, hi, and goodbye. What were the chances that I would see someone from Virginia while walking on a small sidewalk outside the MTC in a small city in Utah. It was a fun experience. Anyway, since I got the pills I have slept wayyyyyy better. Tropozene I think are what they're called. Supposedly they're anti depressants (spelling?) but I get a smaller dosage. I'm definitely not depressed. He told me to take one a night, two if absolutely necesarry. The first night I took two pills just because I wanted to sleep quickly. Within 20 minutes I was having a hard time walking since I was so dizzy. I fell asleep so fast and slept like a baby. I took one last night and didn't wake up tired at all. I think one is the magic number.
Elder Myler and I are the new Zone Leaders for our zone. For those who don't know, there is a, I hesitate to use this word because it isn't really applicable, hierarchy on the mission. Not in the sense of power, but in the sense of responsibility. You get a mission president who is in charge of 100-300 missionaries in an area and his two counselors. You have an Assistant to the President. Idon't really know what they do. Next, you have Zone Leaders who are in charge of all the missionaries in a large geographical area and then district leaders and then "regular" missionaries. Zone Leaders are responsible for helping maintain order, helping new missionaries, and more. In the MTC their responsibilities are a bit different. We help with new missionary orientation, help resolve conflicts and more. For the sake of time I won't go into much detail. Moral of the story is that we're now the missionaries in charge of ~60 missionaries in our zone. It's a lot of work but very rewarding.
Yesterday was an exciting day, too. We got to be "Hosts" for new missionaries which essentially means we escorted the new missionaries when they got dropped off at the door to their rooms/classrooms etc. It brought back memories of the first day I was here, or what is left of them. That was a crazy day. Lots of crying. Lots more than I remember. Elder Myler also had to go to the Orthodontist to get his retainer re-glued. As such, we got to go off campus via shuttle to the place. I had forgotten there was a world outside of the MTC, Temple, and soccer field.
It rained last night! Finally.
I finished Jesus the Christ this week. What a book. 5 weeks later I finished the most dense 780 page book I've read since the Count of Monte Cristo. Maybe I shouldn't compare those two books but both were great, relatively hard to read. I learned so much about the life and ministry of Christ. Everyone needs to read it. The climax, in my mind, was the last two days of His life. He knew it was coming and was very ready. I learned some really interesting things about Pilate, the Roman governer who sentenced him, officially, to death. I've always heard about how guilty he was of that action but the more I read it the less I thought it. He tried five times to stop the people from sentencing him, four more times after he tried, and twice during the lashings. His wife had a dream that he should not do anything with ¨¨this just man¨¨ and he even said, "my hands are clean of the blood of this just man." His responsibility to his job and the guilt of his life beforehand came back and he was, in my mind, almost forced to do so. I do not view him as half as guilty as the Jews who gave him an illegal trial and killed him. He was the man who "signed the paper" but it was with regret. He is obviously accountable for his actions as agency comes in at some point, but he is the "less of two weavils" (who can quote that movie)
I met an Elder who watchs Formula 1! We geeked out about it for a bit. He's serving in Montreal. He told me F1 is the 5th largest GDP on Earth since they spend over 3 trillion a year on it. I haven't heard that number but I wouldn't be surprised seeing how Ferrari alone spends 500,000,000$ on engine research alone.
Spanish is making me REALLY good at Charades. Good luck when I get back trying to beat me.
On Sunday, for no reason at all, we tried to see who could go the longest without speaking. Elder Myler went 5 minutes, Elder Jacobsen went 3 hours, Shreeve went 6, I went 8, and Thorsen went 8.1. It was a long day.
Mom, Dad, Grandpa and Grandma Wolthuis: Do you know a Bonkemeyer family from Sweet Home Oregon? One of my good friends here is named Bonkemeyer. He told me his father worked in the logging industry in South Africa (they're Americans but he runs a business down there) and I mentioned my grandpa owns a tree farm. He asked where, I said a little city near Sweet Home Oregon where they live. He got all excited and said his Dad worked in logging in Sweet Home in the 80s. I don't know his Dad's first name but the last name is Bonkemeyer. I said my Mom's side is named Wolthuis. The two are not very common names and he said he recognized Wolthuis from stories his parents have told. Think hard, it would be awesome if you knew them.
I heard a story about a man who was asked what his biggest fear was. He said, "I live in constant fear that I will offend someone." - J. Reuben Clark.  
Thank you Aunt Carmen, Mom, Dad, Eric, Will, Mark, Natalia, Manda, and Aunt Andra for the great letters this week! I'm writing this at 9:50am, a little earlier than usual which means if I get any mail today it won't be able to be included in this. Thanks in advance.
Thank you all so much for your continual love and support,

With Love,

Elder Johnson

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