Monday, April 1, 2013

1 April 2013

Dear Family and Friends, 
We set our baptismal goal for the month of April this past week. As a zone we're going to push for 22 and as a companionship we're going to be aiming for two. We had two names for those the day we set those goals. And then everything fell through. Everyone this week, literally everyone, dropped us. On Saturday evening we were looking over our area and how we had nothing at all. While walking and talking to people on the street on Saturday it hit us how destitute we are. 

We walked into a returned missionary and asked for someone to stop by and he said he had no one. He asked us if we had done some things to find people like: talking to bishops (done), going through former investigators (visited every one), asking for referrals from everyone (doing it everyday), praying for miracles (done), inviting people to the easter pageant (done), we have no over aged youth in our area, no part member families, and no unvisited referrals. We really have exhausted every resource we have available and had nothing going at all. This was evident during our weekly planning session since we had a lot less things to do.
We have been trying to get another ward given to us so we can be busy.
So yeah, these last 6 days have been really really hard. It has been hard to stay motivated since 1% of the population here "belongs" to us (YSA between 18-30 and no kids, and latinos). Regardless, we went out and worked and had lots of lessons and lots of OYMs. And at least 60% of those lessons were with people anti-ing us. Ah, it's so exhausting to hear the same things over and over from so many different people about how ignorant we are and how we're evil and aren't christian, how Joseph Smith deserved what he got, etc etc etc. I've never met so many people who just get up in arms so quickly and just throw down and yell. We talked to one guy this week who was a returned missionary who fell away from the church and just started grilling us on archeological evidence, or lack thereof, and more. After 15 minutes of him monologing on evils in the church I told him, "It sounds like you have done a lot of research trying to prove this all wrong. If you spend half of that effort trying to prove it right your life will improve and you'll be a happier person. Have a good day" and we walked away while he was still talking and yelling at us. So that has been exhausting as well. 
This week wasn't all hard though, just 6 of the 7 days. I finally got a picture back that I left in Tempe (says, "Go to work or go to hell - Brigham Young") that Elder Sawyer gave me in Yuma when I left.  Haha it gets better but that will come later in the letter!
We stumbled upon a copy of the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith this week and have been having a good time reading some of the things he has said in the past.
I also started reading Jesus the Christ again. Getting anti-d so much has encouraged me to learn a bit more about his life and more.
We keep finding couches in weird places so naturally we take a picture by them.
I have been working a lot harder on my personal spanish study hour each day. Back in Yuma I could slack off because just about every person we spoke with spoke spanish but so few here do. We have a giant grammar book that I have been working through doing all the practice things and whatnot and it has helped a lot. Wish I would have started that 8 months ago...
So now for the miracle of the week. Actually, before that, I found a horse. Nay, I tamed a wild horse! (no pun intended)
Ok, miracle time. Yesterday's YSA sacrament meeting was one of the best I've been to. Two awesome musical numbers and great talks. After the closing prayer I was sitting there thinking it couldn't get any better when I heard, "Elders, there's someone here you have to speak with, he's super interested." Music to my ears! To give a little bit of a background, we use about an hour a couple times a week to call down the YSA ward list (since the area is too big) and challenge people to invite friends to church then introduce them to us. So we thought this was someone that had actually done that! Turns out it that wasn't the case. A recent returned missionary (RM) brought his friend to our ward. The RM lives in Mesa but drove all the way here to accompany his friend who lives here to our ward. We talked a bit and learned a bit more about his friend. They work together doing construction. Where do they do construction? The Gilbert Temple! They do the stone work for the inside. Apparently they use stone imported from Israel for the flooring and it will be mostly uncarpeted inside. He's going to give us some of the tile! So they work together and they talk about the church all day every day. He told us he's looking for the truth and is open to what we teach, wants to meet with us, and loved church.
We taught him right after church and he loved it and is super interested.That was the ray of sunlight in a week of storms. We're really excited about what's to come.
This week was a good lesson learning week. When things fall short and you push through them you get blessed. I guess that's what "Endure to the end" means even though the end in this case was 7 days. In Church yesterday someone said, "any excuse for non action weakens the character." It was cool to see how right after the hardest week we get blessed with an awesome person to teach. 
Thanks Eric, Mom, Will, Ian, and Jeff R for the letters this week! 
Elder Johnson

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