Monday, January 21, 2013

21 January 2013

This week started out dramatically. We were driving to our lesson and the tire pressure warning light came on. It was around 40 degrees outside so we thought nothing of it attributing it to the temperature. As we got out of our lesson and hopped in the car to pull around, something felt weird. We jumped out and found a 7" slash in our tire. Woops! So, at 9:45pm and in 40 degrees we changed out tire with the help of the investigator we had just taught and got on the road. 

Normally that wouldn't have been such a big deal but we were planning on leaving the next morning at 4:00 am to go to Chandler for a training. We called the mission vehicle coordinator and he told us to take it in to the shop (since we were supposed to get our vehicles inspected) and get to the training at 1pm, 5 hours late. We called the Assistants and asked them the same questions and they said, "I don't care what you have to do, be in your seats here at 8:30 am!" Not very helpful. So we hitched a ride with Elder Lanier and Sawyer and had a nice drive up at 4 am. The desert sunrise is awesome. 

The training was two days long. We spent from 8:30am-3:00pm both days in trainings learning various things. There was a lot of information and the long drive the first day made it very hard. After 3pm, we went on exchanges with missionaries in Chandler and spent the night at their place. It was a lot of fun and the first chance I've had to meet missionaries outside of Chandler for more than a few hours. Good times were had even though there was an intense argument between the missionaries that lived there that evening haha.

We were driving home at 8pm and as we were on Dead Cow Road we saw a light burning in the sky, a few thousand feet in the air. It was probably  miles away in the direction of the border. The light would sometimes brighten up and we could see a trail of smoke as it circled very slowly towards the Earth. Then, all of a sudden, it went out. I had no idea what it was. A little while late another one went off and we saw a giant white light on the ground at the same time. Seconds later, another one shot to the same altitude with the same brightness. I assume they were being shot up even though we could not see any trace of it being shot from the ground. So my question is this: what on earth were they? Someone mentioned they may be from trip wires on the border. So if anyone can find out, please let me know!

We had a pretty cool experience with an OYM this week. We were walking out of dinner, stuffed and feeling sick, and felt that we needed to talk to some guy outside. This wasn't our area but the other missionaries had already gotten to their car and left. When we said what church we were from, he said, "Oh, I already believe your church is true! Come sit around my fire!" We talked to him for a bit but then had to leave. We passed him off to the Elders who cover his area, I hope something comes of it.

Last Monday night or so had the baptismal interviews for the people we had getting baptized this week. Everything went well, we thought. When we had a lesson with one of them a few days later and she told us how she went home and had a nervous breakdown because of how stressed she was about it. Her mom, naturally being concerned, offered to let her push the baptism back because it was pretty quick. Eventually the girl came to the decision to pray about it. Up until this point she had struggled recognizing an answer to her prayer. Well, she told us that she locked herself in her room while crying and prayed. After her prayer she lay there and said she felt the happiest, most peaceful feeling she had ever felt. She decided to go ahead and get baptized on the day that we had scheduled it for. It was an awesome example of being watched out for by our Heavenly Father and recognizing answers to prayers.

The week was highlighted by not one but two baptisms. Technically three girls were baptized but two were over the age of 9 (meaning two counted as convert baptisms since the mother is a member). One was for the Cibola Ward and one for the Yuma Valley Ward. This makes another month of getting a baptism into every unit that we cover. The mothers or fellowshippers for both girls insisted on making the programs since we as missionaries don't make them pretty haha. So true. So we sat back and happily let them take care of all of the programs and whatnot. Wow they were amazing. But more on that later.

The first baptism was originally scheduled for 5pm but lots of the members couldn't make it since they work. Woops, forgot about that aspect. So we pushed the baptism back to 5:45 pm since we had another baptism at 7pm that night. It started with an awesome talk on baptism and then a musical number by the young women. Pretty great singing and the spirit was very strong. The baptism itself was great and the talk on the holy ghost was inspiring. The baptism ran without mistake and was fantastic. 

At 6:45 pm we shuffled all the people out of the room to prepare for the next one. This one started late as we were taking pictures in the hallway. Their grandmother is a professional photographer and insisted on many pictures. They told us they would print us some so we'll see how they compare haha. This is the one where I am not looking at the camera. Woops...

The second part to a baptism is the confirmation, or receiving the gift of the holy ghost, which happens on Sunday. The first one went smoothly but the second was a bit more stressful. At 11:05, they still weren't there (Church started at 11). Her friend told us that she was in another part of AZ and probably wouldn't make it. We started to frantically call them and as we did they walked in the door and the confirmation went well. Whew!

I had the chance to go on exchanges with Elder Sawyer this week. We had a relatively open day ahead of us as far as set up lessons go. A lot of them fell through although we put someone on date for next month in the spanish branch. From where we stand now, we will get a baptism in every one of our units again next month. We're doing work here in Yuma and we are baptizing more than has happened for a year here as a district. It was a great exchange and was fun to be back with him for a day. We were going to exchange back at Coldstone that night (easy excuse to buy ice cream) but when we got there it was way crowded and getting late so we passed on that. All in all, a good time. We taught one of the most powerful lessons I've had on my mission. We focused around gaining a personal testimony. At one point we were speaking on trials and I had the impression to open to Mathew 13 (or 14? Can't remember) and read the story of Peter walking on water. I likened that to our life on Earth and how the waves are trials and the "crosswinds" is Satan. Peter walked well and then when the waves hit, he fell. He started to sink and kept sinking until he found it in him to call out and ask for help. Then, as it says in Mathew, the Savior reached out "immediately" and saved him. How similar we are to that that when we fall short, all we have to do is ask and we are "immediately" supported. Afterwards Elder Sawyer said he had used that same analogy with an investigator a few days before. I had never heard it said before. It left a strong impression with our investigator and me. Then, after the lesson with her yesterday, she came to us and said, "You know... I think I need to be baptized!" Just what any missionary wants to hear! We will be extending a date to her when we see her later this week. 

I also had another pretty cool experience with a prompting this week. I was reading in 3rd Nephi in the Book of Mormon and for some reason felt that I needed to make a copy of my Priesthood Line of Authority and put it on a sticky note in my planner. So I did that and stopped my reading to do it. In a lesson we had that night to a recent convert, he randomly in the the middle of the lesson asked about the priesthood and if it can be traced back to Christ. Bam, I whipped what I had written on that sticky note out and showed him. He really enjoyed it and it helped him to understand a little bit more of the restoration of the Church and how there is an unbroken chain from Jesus Christ to me. Just a cool experience. President Monson said it well once: "Never procrastinate a prompting." 

Nothing else super significant happened this week. We were out of our areas for two days which hurt a bit but we made it up yesterday. 

Thanks Natalia, Mom, Eric, Will, Tanan, and Grandpa and Grandma Johnson for writing this week! It was great to get to hear from all of you and about what's going on in life!

Elder Johnson

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