Monday, October 22, 2012

22 October 2012

Dear Family and Friends,
It's starting to cool down! It's only 70 degrees out right now - heavenly. 
Yuma is basically an active war zone. (They were landing helicopters in a field for some reason - blackhawks - and had tight tight tight security. For some reason they chose the field right outside and adjacent the "gentlemens club.") 
The Yuma stake was split for the first time ever two nights ago. There was a big meeting and for some reason they gave out maps of the new boundaries beforehand. Lots of people left early. There were many upset people but for the most part it was pretty good. We will be losing three investigators due to boundary changes in wards. We now will cover every ward in the 18th street building instead of 2 there and 1 i the 16th street building. 
I've been asked for more details on who we are teaching and their progress. I'm not supposed to give names for legal and safety reasons so I'll just say this: we are teaching four people right now and all four of them are on date to be baptized. One is being baptized this Thursday. He is an awesome guy who has read the entire Book of Mormon in 4 weeks. He will teach us some things, not necessarily new things, but he understands everything. He is pretty nervous about being baptized. This is the guy who laughs when I butcher words in Spanish which is most of the time. 
The other one is one we "OYM'd" into (spoke to random people on the street, Open Your Mouth). Usually these are less productive ways to find people. But he was excited and invited us over. His biggest struggle is doubting himself and quitting drinking. He had no problem with coffee and tea. He gets answers to his prayers evidenced to how excited he is after he prays and how he gets "goose bumps everywhere!" After this last prayer, he said, "guys, I'm so happy I want to tell you a joke! I almost prayed that God would help my Yankees but they got eliminated yesterday haha!"  He is a very genuine person. He was at church yesterday and the people started talking super deep doctrine. Gahhhhh. Last chapters of Gospel Principles aren't good for new investigators. 
The other is an English person we are teaching. She struggles with her addiction to smoking but has two very good friends in the Church who help her and motivate her. She has gone through more than anyone I've ever met. But she is excited and ready for the first week of November.
Last is one who can be baptized into the Young Single Adult branch/congregation. He is somewhat interested but we are hoping that picks up a bit.
Another is in a part member family. We teach him at his father/mother-in-laws house. When we teach, EVERYONE comes over. Everyone equals about 15 people. Those are the biggest lessons I think I'll teach for a awhile. It has been fun teaching them (we lose him due to the boundary changes) because the whole family joins in in the reading assignments. They all text each other to make sure they're doing it. Good family. 
I've also been asked how I am marking my scriptures. Hopefully the attached pictures make sense. Mom, this would be a good place to insert those pictures, in this area so my "captions" will explain. 

 The topics you see (five sections) are the five lessons in Preach my Gospel. Each other thing is a subsection. I drew lines down the top and bottom of my scriptures in which place I put little stickers, folded over the top. This allows me to find scriptures really quickly. Lets say I'm looking for a scripture about the Book of Mormon. I'll open to that first page of my quad, see my legend, follow the line of "Book of Mormon" topic and end up in whatever scripture I want that prophesies about it. Hopefully that makes sense...kind of hard to explain.
I'll send some district pictures in a minute. It has everyone but Elder Proskine who went home that morning. He was so trunky haha. The pictures are pretty bad since we put everyone's camera on a chair with a timer and ran to get in front... maybe you can crop them a bit.
I think night time crop dusting is my favorite thing to watch. Crop dusting pilots during the day are already awesome but seeing them fly around at night is insane. They get very low in fields surrounded by telephone wires. I can't stop looking at them.
For some reason all the Mexican families did a vegan week this week. Usually we got a lot of meat for dinners but this week was all vegetables. A couple of the families' fathers were complaining about the lack of meat. From what I understand, the healthclasses were offering extra credit for people to try a vegan diet for a week. 
We didn't do habaneros last week. The Sisters got "sick" from that heavenly spaghetti dinner. We're doing it today with the whole zone. It's a BYOH - bring your own habanero. Next week we're doing the Buffalo hot wings challenge. I'm going to regret all of this. 
Is has also been kind of entertaining to watch the tension between Spanish missionaries and English missionaries. The two "groups" tend to not get along. Not entirely sure why other than pride but it's a good laugh. Our zone leaders are actually a "zebra companionship" which means one of them is English and one is called Spanish. Finding people is very different between English and Spanish missionaries. English missionaries tend to get a lot of help from members so they don't spend much time tracting. Generally, Spanish missionaries get lots of food from members but that's about it . The two are trying to figure out a way to find common ground. We'll see how things go.
We run into a problem down here that I wouldn't really expect to find anywhere else. Everyone. Everyone. Everyone goes to Mexico for the weekend. As such, we'll teach a really good investigator and then he'll just disappear to Mexico for three days. You would think they would just live there... We have one investigator who goes to Church down there and lives here that we have been teaching. Apparently the missionaries in San Luis Mexico have been trying to baptize him and steal him from us. We called President Howes to ask what we should do. He said that since he lives here, his Branch President has the keys for the area (geographical) and that he should be baptized here and try to make it to Church here at least once a month and the other 3x in Mexico. He said that the San Luis Mexico missionaries were practicing, "bad form." It was pretty hilarious. There is a lot of rivalry between the Mexican missionaries and us here in Yuma over who gets to baptize who. There shouldn't be but there is. "Poaching" (teaching people outside our boundaries) is just hilarious as whole. Apparently the Mesa and Phoenix missionaries have been found driving 1 mile into our mission. You are never supposed to leave mission boundaries.
Our Spanish branch does a missionary activity once a month where less active members and investigators come to learn. They asked us (Sisters and us) to put on a skit this week for them lasting about 20 mins. We spent probably 3-4 hours planning it before we realized how much time we were doing. So we scrapped the skit and thought we would save a lot of time by doing a sort of choose-your-own-adventure thing to demonstrate how little decisions make big impacts at the end of the day. Naturally, we decided to scrap the skit the day before we were supposed to do it. We ran  out of time to work on it with the Sisters so Sawyer and I said we would put it together ourselves. We didn't think it would take a lot of time. Little did we know.... At 8:30 that night we decided to go out to a gas station and pick up something to help us stay awake. 5 hours later at 2 we were done. The next day was horrriiibbbbllleeeee. The activity went pretty well though. A staggering four people showed up other than us - all active members. Yeah, we're not doing that again.
We went on base this week to pick up someone. It's called "MCAS" standing for, if I remember, Marine Corp Air Station. They have a lot of Ospreys, T-38s, Harriers, Blackhawks, Cobras etc. I got a pretty poor picture of a harrier landing as we were driving up. I was telling Sawyer that I would be perfectly ok if we just spent all day taking pictures. But alas, that's not why we're here...
I've got a sick watch tan. Puts everyone else's to shame.
I heard Mark got glasses? Haha, I can't wait to see pictures of that.
We had a really cool experience at a lesson this week. One of our investigators has been struggling to make that commitment towards baptism so we planned what we thought would be a great lesson to address all his concerns. As we sat down with him and gave the opening prayer, I felt as if we should teach on temples and eternal families instead. We did. At the end of the lesson, he had accepted a baptismal date and was excited. It is always great to have experiences like these where the spirit directs the lesson in a totally different way than you planned or even wanted. That lesson was also greatly helped by a letter I received earlier that day. I won't say who it was from except in the response to it later today, but sharing your story honestly was exactly what he needed to hear too. After the story (I didn't read it, just paraphrased), he said, "I can totally relate to that. It sounds like me." I hope it was ok that I did that but I think it wasn't just luck that your letter got here literally 10 minutes before we went to the lesson. Thank you.
We had some really interesting food this week. Not weird, just interesting. The one that comes to mind now was potatoes wrapped in a tortilla, deep fried, drowned in Mexican dry cheese (worst cheese on earth) and who-knows-what-else. I've found that the trick to tricky food is to put lots of hot sauce on it. And since Mexicans put hot sauce on everything, finding it on the table isn't a challenge.
So I have these gummy vitamin things that I take in the mornings. I took two, one day this week and then Elder Sawyer did something to make me laugh. I did it too and felt my nose start to burn. Finding gummy bear vitamins in your nose isn't a pleasant feeling. He was dying of laughter, I was dying of pain. 
I found my favorite line in all of scripture. We were reading out of the Spanish Book of Mormon in Alma chapter 5 and we found this golden gem. In verse 26, it says, "Habeis sentido el deseo de cantar la cancion del amor." That basically means, 'have you felt the desire to sing the song of love?' I can't remember the context but we both just lost it. We told some of the young men to use it since it will for sure get them a second date.
I don't know if I've mentioned it or not, but polyester ties are HUGE in the tempe mission. They call them "proselyting polies" and use silks only for important meetings. Psh. Those ties went out of style for a reason. I'm one of two in Yuma that wears silks. Elders down here use polies since they can be washed. I just don't get my ties dirty... There are some absolutely hideous ties. Brands like platypus and lumberjack are big.
I had a realization this week. Well, one of a few. But we were walking around talking to people and I started to think of excuses not to talk to some sketchy people. A thought, or rather lyric of a hymn, popped into my head. "Who am I to judge another." I can't remember the rest of that line but it applies haha. It's something like don't judge others when I too am imperfect. 
We had a woman come up to us this week and say, "will you baptize my daughter?" That's any missionaries dream moment right there. We have been teaching her and getting her ready for baptism. The mother  likes to yell at her daughter during the lessons when she isn't paying 100% attention. Her daughters are 9 and 11. Super distracting. Anyway, it's an uphill battle every time the mother is there. We were going to push a baptismal date for the 2nd week of November but then due to the ward changes, we lost them to another set of elders. We are the only missionaries who lost investigators to the boundary changes...
We also had a woman say, "I'm dying soon so come by some time. I need to go sell some 'stuff' now though so probably next week." That was an interesting one. She was ~60 year old woman who you could tell was doing some strong drugs.
Our district is going to invest in some cheap hockey sticks this week to play during P-Days at the church. Hopefully I can find some space the budget to make it happen. Sawyer plays hockey as well.
Chil de Arbols are death. Death. Never again. I really do think the members here give us hot foods just because they enjoy watching me suffer haha. That's ok though, member trust, right? 
I've also started to pray differently for our investigators. Instead of asking for them to get an answer, we are now asking for them to be able to recognize the answer they get. Two very different things. Anyone can feel good but it is harder to recognize that as an answer to a prayer assuming that feeling comes in relation to a prayer. As soon as we started doing that, our investigators started progressing much quicker. It is intriguing to teach and then apply the principle to ask for specific things during prayers. It really does make a difference.
Alex, there is an Israeli here! I told her about you.
I've started to dream in spanish. You'd think that'sm a good thing, right? Well it's worrisome because I can't even understand what I am saying in my own dreams let alone those around me haha.
The Police department has started posting cop cars in our apartment complex 24/7 for the last couple of days. Something's going down!
How do helicopters fly upside down?
Thank you so much for the letters this week John, Mom, Eric, Annie, Doug, Katie and Sister Hines. They mean a lot! John, I'm writing you back at your work address (return address) so I hope that works.
Con amor,
Elder Johnson

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