Dear Family and Friends,
This was an excellent week.
One of the Sisters' investigators was baptized on Saturday. He asked me to baptize him which was my first opportunity to do so. Took two tries since his finger was out a bit the first time. Since we baptize by immersion, the body must be just that: immersed. After the second time, as I picked him up out of the water, he looked around for a second and then broke down. Later on he told me of an amazing thing that happened. We will leave it at that. He also told me that the second time, he could not feel me and I sounded like someone else. It was an amazing experience that the miracles happened when the baptism was done correctly, when even the finger of his knuckle was where it was supposed to be. Really goes to show that when we put forth the effort and do our best to follow those guidelines and commandments we get blessings. It was a very neat experience.
He was slated to get confirmed and given the Aaronic priesthood the next day in Church. Keep in mind this is our spanish branch. Sacrament meeting starts and he is nowhere to be found. After two hours they found him - his ride had never shown up! He was rushed to the Church and set apart. When he was asked who he wanted to give him the Aaronic Priesthood, he looked around for a minute. Kept looking. Then looked at me and pointed. I got up there and said I had no idea how to do it in Spanish and he said to do it in English since he can understand it as well. Whew! Heart was beating for sure.
Church yesterday was a long one. We went to all three of our wards/branches and totaled out at 7 hours of Church. We had two investigators at our English ward and one at our Spanish. The one at the Spanish branch loved it. Didn't want to leave at all. El agua esta listo para el! [The baptismal water is ready for him!] Afterwards, he said that his #1 priority was to get his family there the following week. The day before as we gave him the Church tour and showed him the picture of Christ, he said, 'Well, maybe you will be able to baptize me, Elder Johnson.' A miracle seeing how reluctant he was jsut days before. He has made great progress.
Our English investigator is also working towards a baptismal date of October 13th. She will be ready for sure and will be our first baptism that we worked for ourselvs. We are aiming for 4 this month and right now it looks attainable. We are helping one man and his less-active wife quit smoking.
I had the opportunity to give two blessings this week. Actually, three, but two of healing. The first one was for a woman I had never met before who had a serious migrane and could not open her eyes. After I said amen, she looked up at me and said, "Wow, I've never had a headache just go away like that before." A miracle. Later that week, actually, yesterday, we gave one to one of the Sisters' investigators. She had some nerve problem in her arm and could not move it. Again, after I said amen, she could start to move it again. Again, miraculous. I have a real testimony of priesthood blessings now.
One of my favorite things is to see investigators pray for the first time. Recently we had one offer one of the most sincere and heart felt prayers. It was not eloquent. It was not smooth. But it was from the heart. One thing he said was, "Thank you for teaching me to be me." For some reason that stuck with me as being one of the most humble things I have ever heard. These people come from nothing to have so much through their faith.
I have noticed as we teach more and more that I learn more and more from the people. Instead of saying, "thanks for letting us teach you," I have begun saying, "Thank you for helping us learn from each other." People make inspired comments without even knowing it.
Unfortunately, the young woman who I wrote about last week having the amazing experience in the lesson decided she was no longer interested the other day. She is going through a hard time and is locking herself in and turning inward. I don't feel like we could have done anything better. Agency, man.
On a different note, the people of Yuma are more and more racist the more I meet them! We were eating with an elderly couple in one of the other wards (we were on exchanges that day) and the husband was talking about all the new diversity in their ward. He said, "and I don't know why, but all these new negro families are moving in!" Quick to correct her husband's statement, she said, "No, honey, they're colored people!" Needless to say, we sat there and tried to not laugh. Earlier on in that same meal as she was dishing what she called 'goop' onto my plate, I said, "oh, that's a great amount." She looked at me and sound, "No, Elder, you need more! You are quite conservative with your food!" Elder Heathcote, whom I was on exchanges with, said, "actually, he is quite liberal!" I lost it. The elderly woman didn't get it at all.
There has been a solid amount of drug activity this week. On Tuesday evening about 15 cop cars pulled up to the apartments down the street and ran in guns blazing. Fun! Later on, about three Border Patrol SUVs peeled out of a parking lot, sirens blazing, and floored it down the road. Best yet was the hostage situation! We got a call from the English elders telling us to book it to 15th street. We get there and there are about 40 cop cars, SWAT team, search helicopters, and news crews. The Elders told us they were walking by when they saw a man bookin it down the street. Right behind him were three cops on foot. The man ran into a random house. After about a minute, the other 40 cop cars started pulling in on all roads. Earlier that day an armed robbery had taken place and they thought this was the guy. Running didn't make him seem innocent. We stood outside waiting and a sniper walked past us. He told us that they had the guy in custody. I haven't heard anything else but I heard rumors that it was a different guy who was guilty of something else. What luck!
While we were knocking on a trailer door this week to visit a referral, the security guard came over. After we said hello to him, he said, "what are you doing here?" We answered. He then said, "I know you mormons, I grew up one! I've come to learn that yer all a bunch of crazy mother______s! GET OFF THIS PROPERTY!" We told him they wanted us to come by and we were just trying to help. He said, "yeah, you mormons are sure known for helpin people..." sarcastically. Fun times. White people are crazy.
Recently there have been a substantial amount of Dept of Homeland Security vans and trucks driving around Yuma. I want to know what for...
We talked to this interestnig guy the other day. He was sitting on a picnic bench waiting for some "friends." We get talking to him and he says the usual, 'I don't need a church I accepted Christ 12 years ago' thing. We told him a bit more about why we need to be in Christ's Church for salvation and he said, "I don't believe in religion!" As we spoke a bit more, we learned what he was there for. He was passing around pamphlets for people to visit his church which was showing a street racing video. I asked him, "So what's the difference between church and religion?" He looked at me and said, "Well...you got me there!" and got up and left. A good laugh.
Tonight we are back to eating with the Spanish branch. We spend the 1st-21st eating with them then 22nd-30/31st eating with the white ward. I heard that all white people feed you is Spaghetti. Naturally, I was stoked for that! We went 10 days eating with them and all we had was potato soup, encheladas, and beans. No spaghetti! I was robbed. English people sure do give a TON of brownies and ice cream. At almost every dinner we had that. It has been interesting to compare the two dinner "scenes." Latinos don't usually eat with you, they dish your plate for you, and then you leave. With English people, they eat with you, let you dish your own food, stuff you with desert, give you money, and then send you home with brownies. They give us a lot, the English people. The latinos give us more, I think, in the sense of humility and love. That said, I still want a spaghetti dinner...Speaking of food, I honestly do think my taste buds have dulled out. I can hardly taste food. I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
I'm rocking a sick tan line from my watch as you can see in those baptismal pictures.
Great quote from Spencer W Kimball: "Someone said we live in a day when God, if there is a God, choose to be silent, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints proclaims to the world that neither the Father nor the Son are silent. One of those theologians above indicated it was impossible for man to know God. This is like saying: I have never climbed Mt Ararat - therefore, no one can climb Mt Arart. How presumptuious and arrogant for any man to say God is unapproachable, nuknowable, unseeable, unhearable, because he has not prepared himself for the experience."
Also, "Anything worth anything is worth working for."
So each month we are given 1,100 miles to drive in the car. Since Yuma is so huge and hot, they give us cars. Yes, I know. We bike everyday though! Anyway, yesterday was the last of the month. As such, everyone was working to make their miles last. We got a phone call from some elders, "we're out of miles! Come pick us up on the side of the road!" We didn't since we were also low on miles! We finished the month with 1.3 miles left. Close call!
In some of the pictures I sent earlier you can see a field. EVery week I want to write abuot irrigation here but always forget. They flood the fields. The yards. Everything they flood. 2-6" of water sit on all fields at least once a week. Ducks swim in it. There could be fish if it wasn't all dried up the next evening. The Church did that and it smelled exactly like a pond. That picture won't do it justice at all, but it is just funny how they do it here.
How do you fix squeeky disk brakes? We have a lot of lube just can't figure outwhere to apply it.
Also, does the sun set across the horizon faster than it moves across the sky? You can see it drop below the horizon in 10 mins here but it seems to take far longer to move across the sky.
Also, I keep hearing about a Native American "white God." Apparently he came once, surrounded by much destruction, and will come again. Sounds like Christ.
If the sun and the moon are on opposite sides of the Earth, how does the moon seem so bright yet the Earth seem so dark?
Can thermal cameras catch body temperature move from the extremities to the core?
Thank you Grandpa Johnson, Eric, Mom, Will, and Mark for the letters this week. I should have time to write everyone today but the new bowling alley just opened up and our zone is pretty competative on P-Days with bowling. I'm undefeated with an average of 160 per game. Not great, but not too bad! Now we don't have to drive up to the Native American reservation @ Cocopah to bowl now! Letters will be en route this afternoon. It's great to hear from you all.
Thanks so much for all the continued support, it's great to hear about how life is going from everyone,