Monday, November 19, 2012

12 November 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm pretty sure I'm getting transferred out of Yuma this transfer. I still have two more weeks here which I will be sure to enjoy. It's too bad that it is happening now that we have turned Yuma around and miracles are happening. Rumors have me off to Mesa to whitewash in (again...), whitewashing into the Sisters area in Yuma, or off somewhere else. It would be different being in the valley for Christmas time. There's a slim chance I stay but again these are all rumors.

This was kind of an interesting week. As far as work goes, it was awesome. We got seven new investigators this week with 23 teaching opportunities - almost half of the total teaching opportunities for all missionaries in Yuma. Things are going really well and it looks like we could get four more baptisms this month which would be half of all Yuma zones goal for monthly baptisms. It's all falling into place now.

This last week was zone conference. I was going to type up my notes and email them home but I forgot them so this will mostly be from memory. President Howes came down and gave a great training on extending commitments, following up, and addressing concerns. There has been  a lot of emphasis recently on 15-20 minute lessons and stopping by about everyday for a little bit of time. Since Sawyer and I started doing that we have had a lot more success. There was also a training given by the Assistants to the President (APs) on how to do street contacting, or OYMing, better. They emphasized bringing up the restoration asap and focusing it around that and the Book of Mormon. Sawyer and I have changed how we OYM'd too to fit that and we have gotten 7 new investigators from them. 

One of the APs came on exchanges with Sawyer and me this week. We were a trio for the evening and ran into an interesting man right off the bat. His view was that the authority was never lost from the Earth after Christ died and that he was working on finding his own apostles. We tried to get him to understand what we were trying to say but he wouldn't listen. We gave some good apostasy scriptures but he actually had some impressive rebuttals. When we got back in the car, the AP was pretty upset at him for being so stubborn. I chimed in and said that's like what we're like as missionaries; trying to help someone understand a different point of view and getting angry doesn't really accomplish anything in the eternal scheme of things. It also drives away the spirit. That is something I've seen a lot on exchanges that if someone we talk to disagrees the missionary gets angry and calls them anti and whatnot. I put myself in their (the person on the street) and that helps me understand how we seem to them. We come across just as stubborn even if we don't mean to. They say contention is of the devil. Doesn't accomplish much.

I got to go on exchanges with Elder Mackay this week. He's an English missionary here in Yuma - a really good guy. We went over to a dinner appointment the other night and, well, it was interesting to say the least. Elder Mackay said it was the weirdest dinner of his life. We walked in and heard screaming. Really, really, REALLY loud screaming. Turns out they were Mackaws (spelling? The big tropical birds?). She had three of them in a giant cage that was directly adjacent the dinner table. As we walked closer, the wife said, "that may look like Lasagna, but it isn't. It's spaghetti and (something else I don't remember...a weird fruit) and cheese on top. It kind of fell over in the oven so it looks weird." I dished myself a serving first and she said, "oh no, more more!" I said, "I'll start with this then go up." I took about a 3x3" serving which was already a lot. Saying it tasted funky doesn't do it justice. She spent the entire dinner complaining about the election and how she is broke now (two days after the election) and how the country is ruined. I sat silently. But then I got her talking about missionary work and she had a good time there. After some time the Mackaw got out of the cage and started running around on top making one of the loudest sounds I've ever heard. The woman started talking to it and calling it one of her kids. Hm. Well, we got up to carry our dishes over before dessert (you get those in english work) and one of the other Mackaws jumped over to the wall and reached its talon out and grabbed Elder Mackay by the shirt and tried to, from where I was sitting, eat him alive. It was hilarious and he got scared and jumped past. Hilarious.

There has been a ton of dust in the air these last week. I was hoping for a dust storm, like a wall 300 feet high of dust, but it just came in with wind and was spread out enough to make it not impressive, just annoying. Our car is disgusting and our bikes are pretty dirty now. 

We learned this week that an apostle is coming to the mission! Elder Cook is coming on December 7th as well as some other relatively important people. It should be exciting. We're pretty sure he is going to come and bash the mission for not having as good results as we should. We are down 70 baptisms from last year and not living up to our reputation as the highest baptizing in the southwest with the highest retention rate. So I'm bracing myself for getting (more) humbled.

The weather has started to drop in Yuma. It's actually unbelievably nice. It has been in the 60s all week. While I'm in heaven, the 'natives' are starting to bundle up in coats and hats and walk around the house in blankets. We ran into an incredibly drunk man stumbling around and he was going off and off about how cold it was. He called us his angels because we came out of nowhere to him in his time of need. He didn't talk to us anymore because he started running the opposite direction yelling, "no mercy, no mercy, San Antonio!" but it was pretty cool to show up just as someone needed us even if we didn't really do anything other than testify.

We ran into the nicest woman in Yuma this week too. She was ~50 years old and from Mexicali, Mexico. We talked to her on the street for about 15 minutes and she asked how long we had been speaking spanish. Sawyer said 18 months (as of yesterday) and I said more or less 4. She was super nice and complimented my spanish. I could understand almost everything she was saying - she spoke really clearly. That was a cool experience.

One of our ward missionaries, Brother Borgerson, volunteered to drive down to San Luis to pick up an English investigator we have down there. It's about a one hour roundtrip drive. That family is awesome. We taught our recent convert into the Yuma Valley ward at their house every time and they have an amazing spirit in the house. Just a great family.

Elder Sawyer and I started walking into a trailer park this week and found a woman who has since said that she wanted to get baptized. When we walked into her trailer, her daughter was there, about 26 yrs old, and we talked to them about baptism and authority. We found out that the 26 year old works with the above-mentioned recent convert and has noticed her completely change her life around and is so much happier. What are the chances! We find someone in a small spanish trailer park who works with someone who lives 15 minutes away in a house on a farm who has noticed her life change since baptism. It was a cool experience and when we told the recent convert about it she was thrilled. 

Two nights ago at about 5 am a really loud beeping sound went off in the house. It went off about once a minute for an hour and a half and was probably the most annoying thing I've heard in a long time. Neither Sawyer nor I wanted to get out of bed so we just dealt with it. Apparently he fell back to sleep but I couldn't. At 6:30 when we got up, it was still going off and I hadn't slept since it started. Dang I'm lazy in the mornings. Once I got out of bed I went to find what it was and noticed it was the fire alarm. Apparently the battery is running low. So I grabbed a chair and pulled the batter out. but it kept going off.... I tried to unplug the wire but it was glued on for some insane reason so I had Sawyer grab me a knife and we cut around the wire to get it off. Who needs a fire alarm anyway? 

Carne Asada is amazing.

I called the election. How much did he win by?

We were talking to our recent convert into the Rio Colorado branch yesterday and he was telling us about when he went to pick up food stamps from DES and they made him wait 7 hours. He said that when he was called, "I got up, started yelling, and ran over to grab them! It was like I won the lottery!" Hilarious. He's so funny. His daughters and wife are now taking discussions since they've seen him change so much. They're going to pull me out of Yuma before we baptize his family of 5! Bah!! Oh well, I guess it only matters that they get baptized. 

We actually had breakfast with him this morning. It was Menudo. So much for getting through my mission without having it. The LeRoy family invited us over and his family and we went and talked for a bit and ate. It was a great time and the LeRoy's are amazing cooks. I think if I were to have had Menudo anywhere, their house was the place to have it. Cow stomach lining soup with bones and corn and who knows what else. Apparently sucking the bone marrow out gives good flavor too. Let me tell you, it doesn't. The actual cow stomach lining meat(?) has the weirdest most uncomfortable texture in the world. 

That was the last week. For time's sake I'll quit there but it was a great week. Hopefully they'll continue to get this way. The Stake President said he wants to split the stake for the first time since its creation in 1954. I joke that it will be because we baptize an entire spanish stake down here.

Thanks Mom, Eric, Will, Doug, Cami, Jamie, Arlington 2nd ward primary!, Aunt Andra (penne and chocolate milk, they don't sell penne down here), Sister Hines, and Katie! Thank you for the great letters this week! It's fun to hear what's going on in all your lives!

How do copy machines work?
Can someone send me the wikipedia article on Jehovah's Witnesses? We find their literature all over the place and read it. Interesting stuff, I guess. They all hate us.
How specifically were the first 12 apostles martyred?

Love you all, thanks for the support!

Elder Johnson

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