Monday, December 31, 2012

31 December 2012

A missionary Christmas

Transfers calls are next Sunday, taking affect on the 8th.
On Christmas Eve went caroling to our recent converts and investigators. They all loved it. We packed the Elders into our Corola and drove around for about two hours visiting people. Tiwi (the GPS in the car that yells at you if you turn too hard, go too fast, etc) gave me four aggressive drivings in one night...hopefully that doesn't take my Tiwi license away. It went hypersensitive that night then died for three days. Called it in and they said they'll write the violations off and that they would fix Tiwi. Tiwi is terrible.

That baptism I wrote about last week fell through. The husband said no. We're hoping for sometime this month though. Hopefully I'm still here.

We did have a White Christmas in Yuma though! The other family who was supposed to get baptized, the one that the husband was going to baptize, got baptized! (Did that make any sense?) We all went in white ties since it was on Christmas day and it was a great time. That was one of the happier moments of my mission to see our recent convert baptize his family and then be able to stand in as they received the gift of the holy ghost.

We were called to go way out of town this week to give a blessing. The drive out took us past the crop duster airport which was pretty cool. When we got to the house and gave the blessing, we talked for a few minutes afterwards about Christmas and whatnot. The father then got up and grabbed a pretty big remote controlled helicopter and gave it to me and said I should take it since he doesn't have time. Sweet! It's probably 2.5 feet long and is pretty intense. I'm going to try to find a charger for it today since that was all he was missing. I'll attach a bad picture of it. Someone told me there's a Fast Eddy's near Walmart. I have no idea what that store is but hopefully they have what I'm looking for.

We had dinner with a family this week who had family from Gilbert visiting. When I said I was from Arlington she said she was there three years ago visiting the Arlington 2nd ward. There's a pretty good chance we were in the same room in a state thousands of miles away.

We received a referral for someone who recently moved into our area this week. We stopped by his house and met him and his wife and his kids. He was someone who had fallen away from the Church yet served a mission and married in the temple in "another life." His life went south quickly and he distanced himself from, well, everything. It was the first time I've tried to teach someone who has done everything as he should have until a certain point. We quickly realized he did not want to go back to church. We asked him why he went on a mission to which he responded, "social pressures." We asked him if he ever felt the spirit on his mission and he said, "no." He has spent the last 10 years of his life 
surrounding himself with anti literature and we spent a while trying to address his concerns until we just gave up on it because he wasn't going anywhere. We testified about the Book of Mormon and challenged him to read it. When I said I was going to leave a copy of the Book of Mormon for him, he said no. We ended with a prayer and I left the copy on the couch without telling him. Maybe something will come from it someday.

This week had more door slams, obscenities, yellers, and rejections than any other week I've had. It was a little disheartening but it was ok because yesterday we found someone who accepted a baptismal date for early January. We're pushing for four baptisms this month and it's looking like we  do it.

I heard about the tree of life rock or something this week. What is it? Is it legit?

This week we brought some investigators to a baptism for the winter visitor (snowbird) congregation. The room was packed of older people and then the family we brought with everyone in their 30s. They felt way out of place. When it was time for the baptism to happen and they started walking towards the water, everyone started yelling, "does he have hearing aids!?" for a good 10 seconds. He didn't but he probably needed them haha. I was dying in my seat because only at a winter visitor branch would you hear that be the major concern. Good times. Anyway, the family enjoyed the baptism and we are going to put her on date for the 5th when we meet with them this Tuesday. A quick one but she's ready!

Not a ton else happened this week since we had 1.5 days "off" due to Christmas. This next week should be a good one! If you're planning on writing to me at my apartment write before Wednesday to make sure it gets to me. If not, write to the mission home: 1871 E Del Rio Dr, Tempe AZ 85282
Thanks Mom, Eric, Will, Ian, Brother Parker, Natalia, and Sister Hines for the letters this week. Was great to hear from you all!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

24 December 2012

It doesn't really feel like Christmas Eve haha. Mission Christmas' are different. All the congregations/wards that we cover had their Christmas programs yesterday. In the Rio Colorado branch we had little talks given and lots of singing. We were only at the Yuma Valley ward for a few minutes so didn't see anything. The Cibola ward had lots of choir numbers and instrumentals. We got there late but saw the harps and violins. It was nice.

We had a Christmas miracle yesterday. Back in October I wrote about a family that was just starting to come back to church with three daughters who were never baptized. The family is increadibly busy and we have not been able to have a lesson with them since October. Every week it gets cancelled. Well we finally had one set up for Sunday (yesterady) and our mission president told me to get the Bishop involved since it's a unique situation. We did. The day before on Saturday night I was doing some stuff in our apartment and out of nowhere felt a very strong impression to give the three daughters a baptismal date. For next week. I sat there kind of dumbfounded thinking to myself that we have only taught them three times in three months and how there was no way etc etc etc. But the impression stayed with me so I planned on extending that date during the lesson the next day. We met with them after Church and she told us she was very rushed and only had a few minutes to be with us so we started the lesson and taught around the Gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, gift of holy ghost, enduring to the end). At the end that prompting came back and I extended the invitation to be baptized the following week. The three girls, very excitedly, said yes. The mother looked at them and said that she was ok with it and would check with her husband, who doesn't love the church. I promised her that if she went to him and bore solemn testimony that he would say yes. We are supposed to call her this afternoon to see how it went but I'm optimistic. Through a miracle the family is where they are. Through a miracle they have accepted a baptismal date for next week and through a miracle it will happen. I believe in miracles.
The miracle of that story is even better when compared to the disaster of this past week. One of the people we have been teaching with a baptismal date for last weekend came to us and told us she didn't want to listen to us anymore. We sat down with her and tried to figure out why but she just got up and left. It was pretty sad to see someone come so far and then just disappear.

Where one falls away, three fill it I guess. It looks like we can pass our monthly baptismal goal if the father OKs the baptism. Miracles!

This past week was the Christmas party in Tempe. It was fun to drive up and enjoy the program and go to the temple. The Christmas program itself included talks from President and Sister Howes, the area authority, and the APs. In between the talks were multi zone musical numbers. Two-three zones were paired up and given a song to practice and perform at the party. We were put together with Chandler and Maricopa, both 2 hours away. We never practiced with them or on our own. Turns out they never practiced either haha. We were called up in front of the mission to sing and man, terrible doesn't even begin to cover it. One Elder was conducting who had no idea how to do it. To begin, he held his hand and just waited. The choir of ~30-40 people sat in silence for a good 15 seconds. The pianist told the conductor to start and so, naturally, the conductor started singing thinking that we would all join in. No one did. So he sang the first three notes way off pitch and the whole room just started laughing haha. Finally the pianist just started playing and we all tried to join in. Well, throughout the two minutes we were up there, the pianists music fell off so he stopped playing, the singing was waaaaaaay off tune and no one can count beats and it was just the worst musical performance of my life haha. I don't think I've ever had such a hard time trying not to laugh. As soon as we were finished we all walked back to our seats and I just about died of laughter. Most of the performances were pretty bad, not as bad, and President Howes just got up and laughed it off and said they probably won't do that again. Golden. It will be one of the funnier memories of my mission I think. After that we had a huge lunch/dinner given to us by members in the area and got to get together with all the missionaries in the mission. It was fun to see my MTC district again and to say goodbye to some of the missionariesI've come to know who are going home in a few weeks. All in all a good experience. The Mesa temple is unbelievable.

This week we were walking in the ghetto part by the farms and a 747 flew over us at like 300 feet. Suuuuuuper low. I took a picture of it and looked at it later on my camera and zoomed in. It had, written on the side, "Trent 100 - First to power the Boeing 787 Dreamliner." and then I noticed that one of the four engines is the very engine that is on the 787. Pretty cool. Picture attached. Guess they were advertising to the farm workers?

Jeff Jardine showed up this week in Yuma! Got a phone call from a Virginia phone number and picked it up and he said that the mission president had OK'd him taking us out to lunch. Sweet! We met at In 'n Out the next day and had a good time. It was nice to see him and his family. Thanks for stopping by!

I met two people this week who know where Sweet Home, Oregon is and have been there recently. The Slaters and the Borgersons. Those sound familiar to anyone?

What is it called when there's like a halo around the moon? I've never seen one before but remember learning about it in Physics. I got a sweet picture of it on exchanges this past week. Attached.

Remember the family of the the man that Elder Sawyer and I baptized? The ones who hated us then loved us? They're getting baptized tomorrow and the father, the man we baptized, is going to be able to baptize them. I can't even wait. So exciting. Just a complete turn around in their lives. That means that 4 of the 5 people that Elder Sawyer and I taught all the lessons to will have been baptized in the last 2 weeks. Very cool. They challenged all the missionaries to a game of softball afterwards. Challenge accepted.
Not a ton else happened this week.

Tonight from 6-9pm is P-Day and all day tomorrow is P-Day as well. We are going carolling as a district tonight to recent covnert houses. Should be fun. . Thanks Sister Hines, the Lewis', Grandpa and Grandman, Mom, Natalia and Annie. Tomorrow I'm catching up on letters for the last few weeks, I promise.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

17 December 2012

Fun times with Santa Clause

Christmas in Yuma
Happy Birthday Grandma Johnson! Wishing you the best birthday ever!
Today is Monday but today is not P-day. Since the mission christmas party is tomorrow in Tempe. We have time to shop and write emails today but that's it.
This past week we had interviews with President Howes. Elder Valdez and mine were scheduled first at 7:45am. Since we wouldn't have much time in our areas this month to proselyte (Elder Cook, Christmas party, interviews, christmas, etc) President kept them to 15 minutes each. A lot less than last time haha. Interviews were really good. Learned some good things that will help us be better missionaries. President Howes definitely can speak with power.
This week was a 2 baptism week for us. Both went smoothly and well. The first one was the most attended baptism I've ever been to wth well over 60 people. The room was full and people were standing. The second one had considerably less, probably 12, but was just as powerful. I was in charge of filling the font both times and I guess the water was a little too warm the first time. The thermometer read 90 F. Woops. When they walked into the water they both looked at me and mouthed "IT'S TOO HOT." Good times. He asked me to confirm him a member of the Church which was my first spanish blessing. To say I was a little nervous probably wouldn't do it justice. Nevertheless, it went smoothly except for saying that that God was happy that he joined his (the baptizee) church. I meant to say that God was happy he was joining His (God's) church. Bah, semantics.
Last night was the baptism for someone that I taught with Elder Sawyer. When I got transferred, she was on date to get baptized. Even though the baptism wasn't 'statistically' mine, I was super happy to see her make that step of faith and was happy to have been a part in teaching her. She has overcome many trials and her life and is an example for everyone. That was the most stressful baptism I've ever been to though. Elder Lanier, Sawyer, Valdez and I all ate dinner out in the Foothills that night (yesterday). The baptism was scheduled for 6pm and we left dinner at 4:45 (my goodness the best dinner I've had on my mission. I don't even know what it was but it was delicious). They (Lanier and Sawyer) still had to fill the font (~40 mins), print the programs,get the baptismal suits from our car, and set up the room. Well, we didn't get back to Yuma until 5:25. We split up and we helped them prepare by printing off the programs (which was clearly rushed since they even spelled their own names wrong - we fixed that) and getting the baptismal suits. The baptism didn't start until 6:25, late as usual for our spanish branch haha. Anyway, I told Elder Sawyer to be careful with the hot water and I guess he overcompensated. The water was ice cold. The woman he baptized took like 5 minutes to get into the font. After the baptism, they realized the woman's locker room door was locked and no one had the key. People were bristly walking in and out of the room trying to find the key and it was, well, stressful. Ater 10 minutes they found a key and let her into the locker room to change haha. Wasn't even my baptism and I was stessed out. But that's ok because once she finished changing and came out we ( the 6 missionaries) sang a cool rendition of Nearer my God to Thee. We're probably going to be doing that at every baptism from now on. It was pretty powerful.
We taught a lot of lessons this week. 28. Unfortunately, only 7 of those were with members present so I'm not too pleased.
And that was because we broke our phone 4 days ago. We were sitting in a members car and the phone slipped out of a pocket and, wouldn't you know it, fell straight into a cup of something. He grabbed it quickly and took the battery out and we let it sit in rice overnight but it was already dead. So for 4 days we've been struggling to do everything. It was especially stressful to plan and figure out baptismal details without a phone. How did old missionaries do it?...
I forgot my scriptures at an investigators house this week. While we were walking around the corner, I heard a little kid scream, "HEY WAIT." I turned around and saw him running with my giant scriptures in hand haha. That would have been bad.
We baptized someone who lives in San Luis this week (~30 miles away). For 2 days we had tried to find someone to come with us to a lesson and give us a ride and no one could. On a whim we called someone who we knew was very busy. He has a large family and works 80+ hours a week. As soon as we asked him he said, "Of course, let me move my schedule around." Man, that man has a testimony of prioritizing the Lord. It was humbling to see him take 2.5 hours (trip there, lesson, and trip back) out of his very busy day and help us. The lesson was amazing and the spirit was very very strong. Despite it being 50 degrees, we all felt warm that afternoon. He gave a great talk at the baptism too. Something he said that I really liked was, "We live in a world of darkness...but it doesn't have to be dark for you. The light of Christ shines brighter than ever." Amazing experience.
This week during personal study, I had a moment of realization. It finally hit me how much sense everything makes in the gospel. Everything Surely something so perfect can't be incorrect. I don't remember when or why it hit me but it did.
One of the most common things we here down here is, "It's all the same God, why does it matter how you worship? I do it in my own way." I was flipping through the Old Testament this week and found a pretty great scripture.  8 ¶For my athoughts are not byour thoughts, neither are your cways my dways, saith the Lord.
 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my aways bhigher than your ways, and my cthoughts than your thoughts.
Sometimes we don't understand why we have to do something but we need to remember that there's someone who knows better than all of us.
We went to a Tamale festival this week haha. Down in Sommerton (~15 mins from border) they threw a giant party and advertised it for weeks. Since we cover that English area we went down there to see it and see some former investigators. It was a massive dissapointment. $2 for a Tamale "pass" and then $2 per tamale. Psh! There were well over 2,000 people there though. We left empty handed but ran into some snowbirds from Utah who bought us a big bag of them haha. Only in Yuma would there be a party centered around Tamales.
I got our family Christmas card this week. There are two ways you can tell Mark made it: 1) He used the picture I told him not to, 2) He made himself look taller than me haha. Just wait, I'll come back 6'11" and show you who's boss.
We were in our sketchy part of Yuma last night talking to people at around 8:30pm and we pulled over and started to get out. Someone walked past the car and looked into it. When we opened the doors, he jumped and quickly walked away. The person we were going to visit was the same way he was walking so we went that way. He was terrified that we were cops haha. He then decided to walk into house...which just happened to be the house we were going to. The look on his face was priceless when we said Hi and then when we said we were missionaries. I think we'd get to talk to more people if we weren't wearing white shirts and ties. Then we wouldn't be thought of as cops.
We are focusing this week on working with referrals from members. The other day, we were driving behind a member who was going to work. On a whim, while he was driving, he stuck his hand out the window and pointed to a house. We pulled over to the house while he drove away. The family told us to come back another time which we did last week. Turns out the family of 3 have LDS parents but aren't members and the daughter (12) wants to get baptized. Sometimes we don't know who is ready for the gospel, so why try to determine who we think is ready when in reality we don't know who is? The gospel is something that blesses everyones lives. Let it!
Thanks Mom, Dad, and Natalia for the letters this week. I'll respond tomorrow on the car trip to Tempe.
We get to go to the temple tomorrow! Never been so excited haha. Just hope I get better by then. Last two days have been pretty flu-y.
How is the range in the temperature so huge in deserts? 120 during the summer days, 30s during winter nights.
Why does, at the end of the Old Testament, it say, "the end of the prophets?"
Merry Christmas, love you all,
Elder Johnson

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

10 December 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

So this month, the Yuma zone set a baptismal goal of 22 baptisms for the month of December. To put things in perspective, there were 4 in September, 8 in October, 0 in November, and 0 so far in December for this month. Usually Yuma baptizes the least in the mission so 22 is a pretty lofty goal. As of today, there are 25 people on date to be baptized in Yuma. If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is. Everyone is working hard and pushing hard and we're starting to see results. At the Spanish branch yesterady, there were about 50 people there, 10 of them being our (the Sis Drake/Thompson, Elders Lanier/Sawyer, and Valdez and my) investigators. The branch was ecstatic to see everyone working hard. Hopefully we can get some referrals out of it. We got a text from the AP's this morning saying that our zone was carrying the mission in new investigators and people on date. Represent!
Elder Valdez and my goal for this month is 3 baptisms. We're going to be getting two this week, one on Wednesday and one on Saturday. Originally both were scheduled for Saturday but we got a call from one of them saying, "guys...I don't want to be baptized on that day. Can we move it up so I can go on the temple trip?" Sweet! So that's happening on Wednesday. He asked me to confirm him which will be my first spanish blessing. Nervous doesn't really cover it but I'm working no subjuntive tense right now so I can at least conjugate some of the verbs correctly.
There's an elementary school that is having snow made for a day and they're going to dump a couple truckloads of fake snow on their grass. We are definitely going to be there. Not to play, of course, but to talk to people...right?
We spent two hours in the Emergency Room this week. We got a phone call asking to go give a blessing so we headed over and got our ER passes and went inside. The first one took a little while since the guy was pretty hurt so once he was all, well, fixed up, we gave him a blessing. On the way out, we got called over by an elderly coulpe to give another one. That one took a lot longer since he was in there for a stroke. The hospital had a pretty cool system for stroke patients. They wheel'd in a monitor with a video camera and started a video chat between the hospital ni Yuma and the stroke response squad in some other city far north by show low. Through the video chat, the nurse that was 4 hours away diagnosed him, prescribed him, and sent him to get some treatment. It was a pretty cool example of modern technology in hospitals (obviously everything in hospitals is modern, but this was just cool).
While passing past a room in the hospital we heard an elderly man say, "grrghghhh, not dying before my wife was a big mistake."
One of the investigators we're teaching lives in San Luis, a 70 mile round trip. Our Engilsh ward goes from Yuma to the border. But the missionaries in San Luis have been teaching him even though he'll be baptized for our ward and technically be our baptism because of the inconvenience of going down there. Anyway, we went down last week to talk to him and taught him the first lesson, about the restoration, all over again to reinforce it. He didn't have a very good grasp of it. Anyway, at the end we told him we were usually in Yuma and made the trip down here just to see him. He said, "Oh man, I wish I'd paid more attention!" Haha, I couldn't decide to laugh or slap him haha. He was involved in the lesson and when we asked him questions while we taught he answered them mostly correctly. But at the end when we asked the same questions, he couldn't respond to any of them. He has a slight mental condition so that probably played a role. Good guy though.
I just remembered that Elder Cook of the Quorum of the 12 came and spoke to the mission this week. Probably should have written about that first. But anyway, he came last Friday. He also brought Bishop Stephenson (Presiding Bishop), Elder Gonzalez (Bishopric of the Seventy), and Elder Wright (don't remember). I was expecting a big change in the mission but nothing of that sort. But before I get to what he said I'll rewind a little bit. Since Yuma is so far away from, well, anything, the trip to Gilbert was an all day thing. We left at 10 am on Friday and stopped for lunch at 11:30. It was a place in Dateland (lots of date farms) which sells Date shakes and Cactus shakes. Not a fan of date shakes. Nope nope nope. Cactus wasn't too bad though. Anyway, we spent too long at lunch and got on the road a little later. We were supposed to be seated by 2pm at the stake center. To preface the next part, Yuma has a reputation has the outcast. We don't get invited to any mission activities other than the christmas parties, we don't get to go to the temple, and we don't know anyone since we don't get invited to Mission Presidents Firesides. Well, all of Yuma zone walks into the chapel at 2:15 and see everyone sitting down and the chapel of the stake center full. Everyone watched us walk the walk of shame. President gave us an unhappy look. So we pull up some fold up chairs right in front of the overflow section and sit. Then the whole zone gets up to use the restroom since we didn't get a chance en route so 12 missionaries get up and walk out after already being late. Right after we sat down, Elder Cook walked in the back doors and I looked at him. First to see him! And also the one to not stand up when  I should have. Bishop Stephenson was walking in behind him and motioned to us to stand up to show respect haha. Que oso. Anyway, I'll be sending copies of the notes I took home but suffice it to say, they spoke a lot on, well, being better missionaries. Elder Gonzalez talked about establishing the church, Elder Stephenson spoke on invitations rather than assignments, and Elder Cook spoke on testifying and getting rid of all our childesh habbits to prepare for the huge influx of missionarise next transfer since the mission is going from 170 missionaries to 250. Threw down on immaturity. It was a good meeting though.
They all finished speaking at 5pm. We had the chance to visit with other missionarise for 30 minutes after and I got to see Elder Myler (he's training), Elder Jacobsen, Sister White, and Sister Crawford, all of whom were in my MTC district. It was nice since I haven't seen any of them since September. They're all doing well and having much success. Kind of thought of when Alma ran into the sons of Mosiah.
So we left Gilbert at 6pm and headed to Chandler to eat as a zone at some place callde Barros. Elder Mackay told me I needed to eat the medium sauce'd wings which I did. If that sauce was medium, I don't want to know what hot was. We then left dinner at ~6:45 to drive home. And then at 8 we realized we were lost and still 2hours from Yuma. Fast forward to 8:45 and someone tries to call President to tell him we'll be late but doesn't leave a message. Actually, I'm not even going to try to explain the situation. Lots of misscomunications and we didn't get home till way after curfew and President didn't know until the next day and we had to get a ride home with a member and we didn't have our house key because someone had our keys and more and more. Just a crazy confusing night. He comes on Tuesday for interviews and we're all expecting a throwdown on how we should have been more responsible. Which we should have.
But back to the meteor! So at a certain time later in the evening when we were still waiting for our house keys to get to us we saw another large meteor go across the sky. It went straight down, lasted for abuot 3 seconds, dissapeared behind an apartment and then the sky lit up. Either it exploded in the atmosphere or hit the ground, all I know is that it got really light really quick. Pretty cool thing to see.
We spoke to some Jehovah's Witnesses this week on the street. They were going door to door and were only like 16 years old. We asked them what they believed and they showered us with pamphlets and information. Now I've got some stuff to study (since it's all in spanish). When we offered them a Book of Mormon, their mom came walking over and pulled them away. Next time.
We also spoke to an less active part member family this week. The wife answered the door and told us she was never going back to Church since someone their offended her. She said that she told her husband about it and he stopped going as well. It was a pretty ridiculous reason. I tried to tell her the importance of church but when she wouldn't listen I was just bold with her and told her that she couldn't expect God to forgive her if she couldn't forgive others. She said she knew and then left. What a silly excuse to stop going to church.
 Some of our investigators tried to put money in the sacrament tray at church yesterday haha. Guess we didn't explain that one well enough.
This morning at 7:30, a kid showed up at our door and gave us a plate of sugar cookies. He's not in any of our wards. We also had a member give us well over $200 of candy and fruit this week. See pictures.
And before I forget, I almost went to Mexico on accident this week! We were driving in San Luis and got in the Mexico line on accident. Well, we got to the sign that says, "no turn backs" and freaked out and barely got out... But don't worry, we're still here!
"One of the sins that most of us will be accountable for is ingratitude."
Gas prices have dropped close to 40 cents in a month, what's happening?
I made the mistake of buying premade cookie dough from the grocery store last week. Never again. I ate half of it before I realized it was only Wednesday.  
I'm 85% sure I saw the F35 flying last Tuesday. My only concern would be the nose looked pretty pointy and it was quiet and relatively low.
How do vending machines count cash?
Thanks Grandma and Grandpa Johnson, Annie, Katie, Mom, Eric, Will, Sister Hines, Sister Hauer, the Hall family, and Natalia for the letters! Everything sounds great for you guys! I'm running behnid on responding so hopefully I can get back to you all soon but thank you so much for writing!
Merry Christmas,
A favorite sign

Missionary Christmas decorations

Where shall we start?

A generous gift

Elder Johnson

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

3 December 2012

Dear Family and Friends,
I turn 5 months in two days. Time flies.
That poorly exposed picture is of my Yuma district before transfers. 3 of those 8 are gone. From left to right, they are: Elder Sawyer, Elder Boyd, Elder Berriman, Elder Johnson (Me), Elder Lanier, Elder Mackay, Sister Drake, Sister Thompson. Elder Boyd got called to Show Low and I heard that in transfer meeting, when he heard it, he got up and started singing, "I'm dreaming of a white christmas" until President Howes told him to stop. Sad I missed it!
Transfers were this past week. Because every companionship in Yuma went through a change, 6 of the 8 missionaries had to go to transfer meetings in Tempe. As a result, Elder Mackay and I were the only ones who stayed in Yuma. We covered the entire stake for the day. The only missionaries in all of Yuma (Yuma to Heider). But that was just for like 8 hours. Because we had no lessons set up that day and the entire district was gone, the Zone Leaders challenged us to get 80 OYMs, or 80 street contacts. We accepted that challenge. And did it. It was ridiculous haha. Every. single. person we saw we talked to. We only got like 3 lessons out of it too. And since that was the end of the month of November, we had only 20 miles left in the car so we walked all day. By all day I mean from 8am to 6pm. By the end we easily had walked over 10 miles. Anyway, the zone leaders now owe each of us a tub of bluebell ice cream. I'm going to cash in for some Dutch Chocolate. That stuff is heavenly.
All the new missionaries and the returning one from training meetings got back at 6pm that night. My new companion is Elder Valdez. He's from Quintana Roo, Mexico, just below Cancun. He has only been speaking English for as long as he has been on his mission which is 8 months. We're a pretty young companionship. There are only 3 native speaking missionaries in the mission so I got lucky. My Spanish is going to get really good this transfer and his English is going to get better too. We're trying to only speak our mission language so he speaking English, me speaking only Spanish. The language barrier has presented some interesting problems so we're working through that. Our month baptism goal is 3.
And that goal got off to an unfortunate start. We had one baptism on date for the 1st of December but due to Word of Wisdom problems got pushed back. Hopefully we can get him excited again and get him on date for next week or the following.
And we had one investigator who wasn't progressing but now will absolutely not be progressing for at least 8 years. Let's just say a gun and 12 bullets were involved. No one died (I think). He got bailed out and came to church though!.....People were coming up to us and telling us about it at church. Since we get no access to the news, we had no idea.
Elder Valdez and my first night out turned a little intense. We went to talk to this guy who came over and just starting calling us out for every single thing you can imagine. He was a super scriptorian and before we decided to leave he said, "and next time you guys come back, memorize more scriptures!" I wanted to say that it's not about having memorized scriptures, it's about how you feel and act. He went on about how we need to celebrate passover and how the 2nd coming was in 1948. I read to him the one part of (book of) Revelation that I actually understand about the two prophets being killed and he couldn't respond. Bible bashing doesn't get you anywhere though so we just bore testimony and left. Nothing else you can do to in that scenario.
As I said last week, I got transferred a couple blocks away and out of my sweet old apartment. The one we're living in now is worse. Way worse. Half the size, really dirty, and missing lots of things. Even our door is broken. The apartment office said it would be $125 to fix it and the mission OK'd it so all we need to do is let the apartment complex know it's ok'd.
This has been a pretty stressful week. Since there are now 6 Spanish missionaries in the Spanish branch (compared to the previous 4), we had to split the areas. The zone leaders got all my old investigators and I got a new ward. So this transfer I'm 1/2 white washing. A new Spanish area, a new English ward, and the same other English ward. I don't cover the YSA branch anymore. But it has been hard to start from scratch (again) and try to build it up. Hopefully we can have as much success as I did last transfer with Sawyer.
Speaking of the YSA branch...drama! At Church yesterday, we were studying in the foyer and saw the branch president's wife run out of the chapel and grab the branch president and rush him inside. They looked pretty scared. So naturally I followed them. One of the members was non-responsive and looked like he was passed out. A couple of seconds later, he just collapsed. Chaos. His fiance's nose started bleeding and she fainted from fear. The member who was non-responsive was out for 1-3 minutes. I think the only way he could have been safer would to have been in a hospital. Eight marines, 2 EMTs, and a nurse are in the YSA branch. Not to mention a doctor was in the hallway. The firetruck/ambulance showed up and got him conscious again after a bit. It had happened to him 3 times before. He didn't want to go to the hospital for certain reasons but they eventually convinced him. As the EMTs walked out, one of the members said, "and you guys  thought you weren't going to church today!" That relieved a lot of the built up stress haha.
Saw another meteor this week! Not half the size or the coolness of the last one but it was pretty cool. They're pretty easy to see when there are no clouds or trees.
We met a man this week who started anti-ing us the second we said hi. Before we left, he said, "you guys are just a little cooler than Jehovah's Witnesses." I guess the people here don't really like them. Or us.
Polyester ties were banned this week. President Howes said missionaries were getting out of control with the styling. So sad. Now I have 60 ties that I can't wear. If I can find a box I'll probably be sending 1-2 boxes of ties home. There are some sweet ones and some hideous ones. Get excited. It mostly just affected the Spanish missionaries since for some reason Spanish missionaries tend to wear more polys than English missionaries.
I got a tiwi card! AKA I have permission to drive. Since Elder Valdez is from Mexico, his home license isn't recognized. We drive a 2011 Corolla. I have to stoop waaaayyy down to get into it. Not a huge fan but it gets sweet gas mileage. It's no swaggerwagon though. The first day in it I accidentally sat on my sunglasses and broke them. Bien triste [very sad].
We had a pretty cool experience yesterday with an OYM. We were walking down a street and I felt like we should knock on a door. No one answered. We turned around and saw a family sitting on their "yard" (it was all dirt.) so we went and talked to them. Turns out they're all really really interested in family history. They're going to the family history center at the church building this week. Hopefully they'll start listening to us and learn about the church
So the week after I get transferred out of my old area, that family we were teaching decide to get baptized. Ahhjhhhhh. At least I'll still be in Yuma to see it. Apparently they kept asking Elder Sawyer why we got split up and if it happened because we did something wrong. [If you're not aware, missionaries regularly receive transfers to work in different areas or with different missionaries.  Just part of the mission culture]. Good times.
I was reading a bit about resurrection this morning. Christ was the very first one to get resurrected, right? He, obviously, had lots of faith! It's kind of like someone telling you to jump off a cliff and saying you won't get hurt. You do it because you trust the person, but the fall down would be terrifying. I had never really thought about it like that before.
What causes languages to change over time?
Thanks Camie, Sister Hines, Alex, Sister Christensen, Cassie, and family for the letters this week! Awesome to hear from all of you!
Love you all so much, merry almost Christmas,
Elder Johnson