Dear Family and Friends,
This was kind of an interesting week.
That's an understatement.
The week started out pretty well. On Monday night we were walking around trying to find people and stumbled into a super sketchy park. It was 8:30pm and there were no lights except in a pavillion. There were two girls there, probably 20 years old, that we went to talk to. They freaked out when we said hi since we surprised them. We started teaching them and they invited us to sit next to them on the picnic table. We awkwardly ignored it and taught them standing up haha. Anyway, they seemed pretty interested so we set up a return appointment for a few days later.
When we went by to visit them, we saw a car outside and someone yelled, "Hey Elders!" Bad sign since the girls weren't members. When we got closer we asked if ___ and ____ were home and she said, "...I got here this morning and the house was empty. They disappeared." They had been renting the house and either went all out to get away from us or gave us a time they knew they wouldn't be there for (which happens a lot.) They had just moved there too which was strange. Anyway, the land lord was a Mormon and we talked to him for a bit and he was very surprised they disappeared as well. He went to work cleaning it out to rent again haha. People are weird.
I'm going to explain more about our area than I did this week and about the house that we live in. Yeah, we live in a house which was surprising for me. We have a yard of rocks and a backyard of rocks. People don't even try to water grass so they just do desert landscapes or rocks. We had hundreds of weeds in the front and thousands in the week. We got a notice from HOA saying we had a few days to clean the front out or we would get a $50 fine from our personal accounts. So we cleaned the front but not the back. The other Elders have a recent convert who offered to give us goats for a while to eat all the weeds out haha. Anyway, so the house is alright. There are four of us living there which is good and bad for obvious reasons. Two bathrooms which is nice but we sleep on bunkbeds which isn't fun. Super uncomfortable. This house has carpet unlike my apartment in Yuma which was all tile and cold in the morning. We have a garage that the housing coordinators use to store dozens of desks so we park in our driveway. All the backyards are surrounded by stone walls which is pretty ugly. We live in the smallest house in the neighborhood.
Queen Creek itself is a unique place. There are some parts that are somewhat urban and others that are super rural. There are tons of horses here and we will often see people riding their horses down the side of the road. Rodeos are big. The town is stuck between urbanizing and, well, not. Most people have moved here recently since Queen Creek (QC) is so young.
The way that missions work is that it is a geographical area divided into zones. We cover probably 600-700 miles in a seatbelt across Arizona divided into 11 zones. Some big enough to bike across, others hours across like Show Low and Yuma. Anyway, you get assigned a zone and you can't leave it.
Unless you're a spanish elder in QC. We cover three zones and 90 square miles since we cover the spanish ward and singles ward. Needless to say, everyone we teach is super distanced which gives us a problem with our car. We got cut from 1150 miles a month to 1000 which isn't possible so I called the assistants yesterday, presented our case, and got 100 miles back.
This week was interviews with the mission president for our zone. He came down on Thursday, we got trained on planning (again) and went in and had 12 minutes each with him. Some went longer, some went shorter. My first interviews in Yuma we each had 30+ minutes which was way nice. It's kind of crazy to think that that's really the main time he gets to know us since we don;t see him often, about once a month. Anyway, I went in and talked about one of our investigators who is experiencing "demons" in their home. He said some pretty funny and interesting things haha. All in all it was a good time. The first thing he said to me, kind of to break the ice was, "So...do you miss Yuma yet?" At transfer meeting when he called my name he said, "...and Elder Johnson who has spent his entire mission in Yuma." When he mentioned that I was adjusting, he kind of sadly said, "Yes, spanish work right now is struggling in the valley." With the mission boundries changing, it will be interesting to see how spanish missionaries get moved. Right now, 2/3rds of the spanish missionaries are west of the valley. There's only 6 of us in the valley/show low. We should be getting new mission calls soon.
We had a pretty awesome miracle this week. Before yesterday we had two people on date for baptism this month. One of them fell off yesterday since he didn't come to church. The other is 100% a miracle and nothing less. When I came into the area all I heard was about how dead it was and how we would have a dry (baptism-less) transfer. Put that behind and went to work. We are teaching one guy in spanish (even though he will get baptized into YSA) and he cancelled every lesson this week since he was going to be in California all week on a surprise trip. When we heard that we were pretty concerned since he is on date for March 16th and we hadn't taught him any of the commandments. The rule is they have to be living all the commandments for at least 10 days before baptism. If not they have to get pushed back. On Saturday night we were supposed to meet with him but that fell through as well. At this point we were super nervous. All week I had been praying that he could be prepared enough to still get baptized on the schedule day even without us teaching him until 6 days before his baptism. On Sunday he was at church and we took him aside and taught him everything then and there. As we went through the commandments, every one, he spoke on how he had in the last few months or years stopped those things that were against the commandments and started to follow all of them. So, having never been taught these before, he had miraculously been keeping them all! So now we are moving on towards his baptismal date making this more or less a 10 day baptism. Nothing short of a miracle.
I wrote last week about a YSA investigator who was super solid who had been thinking about baptism. Well, we got a letter from someone in her life who is a less active member that, summarized, said: "We shouldn't push baptism the first visit, that we scared them away, and we can't push baptism if we only know their first names. It was disappointing since the investigator is very prepared and is being kept from progressing from a less active member who is a part of the investigators life.
We get to go to the temple on Wednesday!
We taught a lesson this week to a Jehovah's Witness. Some things I learned:
After this life, we all come back to life for a millenium where we can try everything over again without temptation so that we can all become perfect. Then the devil is unleashed and those who didn't get good enough in that millenium will get defeated by the devil. So what's the point of this life if we can all try again after?
Maybe that's all I remember...
Anyway, we tried to pray with her afterwards and she said, "I've been praying all day, I don't want to pray anymore!" JW's will never let you pray with them. Doing so makes us "like the pharises praying in the streets seeking praise."
We also found someone on the street this week who told us to go away since we "didn't understand." When I asked what that meant she said, "I died! It makes sense now!" I asked, "what makes sense?" And she said, "It's all clear!" hahaha
I found the name Alpheus Cutler on page 151 and 205 of the History of the Church pt. 2 book. Apostate relative!
I also found something a little more dangerous in our house this week. A scorpion! I was looking through Elder Allen's ties and noticed something on the bottom. When I looked closer it was a scorpion! We grabbed a cup and caught it. We've had it in our home trying to find something to feed it. Well, we also found a massive spider on our house today. We put them in the same cage and made them angry and they fought. The spider got stung 3 times and then we had to come email. Our backyard is infested with lizards so maybe we will add a lizard to the match this afternoon and see who wins.
We were tracting down a street this week and 1/3 of the doors said that the neighborhood was a no soliciting neighborhood. Good thing we don't sell anything! Everytime we heard that I would say that we aren't soliticing, we are inviting! ONe guy said, "You guys better go! They'll come for me and then for you!" And then slammed the door. Another guy threatened to call the cops on us and I told him that we would still be in the neighborhood when the cops came. They never came. It's illegal in Arizona to kick ministers off of public property. People try to use that excuse all the time to get us out of neighborhoods.
A dust/rain storm his this week and did some intense wind damage. The worst part was the mud... the area we do most of our spanish work is called LIttle Mexico and doesn't have paved roads. Our poor car changed from red to brown.
Last night we were talking to people in the street pretty late and one woman told us we looked like hitmen.
Thanks Grandpa Wolthuis, Eric, Mom, Will, Margareta, Ian, Grandpa Johnson for the letters! It was great to hear from all of you this week!
All in all a good week.
Thank you all for your continued support!