Sunday, August 25, 2013

19 August 2013

Dear Friends and Family,

Elder Cardon of the Seventy came to our mission this week. 

He did a special fireside for all investigators in the mission on Saturday night. We were asked to translate from English to Spanish and it was an interesting experience. Before the fireside we went and knelt to pray and ask for help translating. I was nervous since what he would say would be powerful and I wanted to be able to convey it to the audience in words just as powerful but in Spanish. It was a humbling experience as I was able to translate far above my skill level. There was definitely much divine help involved in that. I was using words I didn't use any conjugations I didn't know. 

The next night he held a special missionary leadership council and sat down with 14 of us in a small room on ASU campus to talk about "the Work of Salvation." The church is moving away from "Missionary Work" and is going to be using the words, "the Work of Salvation" more since it is more inclusive and is more inviting. It was a really cool meeting and it got really really intense at one point. He is a powerful man and not scared to say what's on his mind haha. Much revelation was received. 

I was thinking this week about missions. It struck me that I think we go on missions for more than just other peoples' benefit. Duh, I don't know why this hasn't hit me before but it hadn't. It struck me that missions are a huge benefit to our personal salvation as well. I was just thinking about where else I could be and what else I could be doing and nothing seemed half as important for my own well being as well as of others. I then thought about how much the church membership is blessed by full time mission service, not just during the mission but for the rest of their lives and eternity. The principles you learn as a missionary are for far more than 24 months: planning, dedication, concentration, how to love, serve, lose yourself to help others (and then find yourself), the list could go on. 

It was also really cool to teach a lesson over Facebook with Mark this week! I've been trying so hard to find ways to be effective on Facebook. I had a meeting with President Toone this week while on exchanges with the Assistants and we talked about the progress of the iPads, Facebook, and the technology initiative. He mentioned some really cool things that I won't repeat but also mentioned that the missionary department isn't getting as much feedback as they wanted. So this week I made a survey and sent it out to the missionaries using the iPads and Facebook - kind of a self assessment. This morning I got all the results back and they were really interesting. Most people didn't understand how to be effective. So today I'm going to put the results into a presentable document and send it to SLC and the Director of the Missionary Department and President Toone to let them do whatever they wanted with that information.

I've been in contact this week with the Director of Proselyting in the world (he's awesome!) about Facebook asking for ways we can be better and other missionaries' success stories. He mentioned that one mission tripled their weekly teaching opportunities because of Facebook. I told him I set a goal to help two people get baptized through Facebook before I get transferred away from it. But maybe it'll go mission-wide before that, we'll see. Just these past two weeks we've seen hundreds and hundreds of new missionaries get on Facebook.

 It's beginning.

We had a really awesome experience this week. One of our most amazing investigators was reading "for fun" in the Lorenzo Snow manual this week and discovered that he lived in the same city as her great great etc grandpa! She hopped online and did some family history. Turns out she loves family history and has gone back more than 500 years into her family history. Crazy!! 

She is so prepared for the gospel. She's getting baptized next week and was interviewed yesterday. It will have been two  weeks since we met her and she was ready for baptism on day one. Yesterday she taught me an amazing principle during our lesson. I was getting ready to teach a commandment and commit her to it and before I even presented it she said, "ok, I'll live it!" She has received her personal testimony and it continues to grow everyday.

I left thinking, "am I willing to accept  so quickly the words that come from the living Prophet today?" I'm not a prophet, by no means, but what I mean was her willingness to accept something new from someone called to teach it. The Prophet is called to teach it. So, are you willing to commit to live a commandment before you even hear it? Is your faith that strong? I hope we can all get there and be like this wonderful woman we are teaching.

But it gets better! She repented in the lesson we taught! We told her something, she mentioned she did it, and without a direct invitation from us she prayed and asked for forgiveness during her prayer. Ah, so much faith.

At a family home evening activity this week I won a laser pointer pistol that shocks you when you pull the trigger. Needless to say, I shocked many people this week :)

Oh, I forgot I haven't even written about the anti that punched me this week! Ok, here goes!

After translating for the meeting with Elder Cardon we hopped in the Cruze and started driving home only to realize we were out of gas. Oh no! So we pulled into a Circle K and went inside to buy a drank. As we walked inside a woman approached us and immediately started to anti us. I'm not going to write everything she said but needless to say she was an excommunicated woman who had been through the temple. She went off and off about things she shouldn't have and said things that didn't make any sense. Among some of her claims were that the Catholic church founded the LDS church, that we are Masons, that Mormons run the government, that we are connected to the mafia and the iluminati, and that she was a descendant of Christ and was Christian royalty. She followed us outside and continued to talk to us. In an attempt to change the topic, Elder Harder said, "This is a good milkshake!" She promptly took it and drank it. She told us to follow her home and see her Porsche and how she was connected to the highest ranked Jews. She said because I'm 20 she will know more than I will ever know since she was 45. Ok. I started to testify to her and she talked over me. So then I said, "Listen, these conspiracy theories don't -" and then she cut me off. "CONSPIRACY THEORIES? KENNEDY HAD HIS BRAINS BLOWN OUT TO BRING THESE FACTS TO LIFE!" I smiled because it didn't make any sense and I had heard enough and then she went berserk.

Like really, she went insane. More than previous, which I didn't think possible. She walked really really close to me and started screaming in my face what my name means, how I'm iluminati, and then she did what made me most mad; she flicked my name tag twice. At this point I was starting to get pretty angry so I just turned around and walked away. I didn't want to say anything I would regret. As I walked away she screamed obscenities at me and then ran at me from behind as I was walking and looking forward and punched me in the back.

A bunch of people saw and heard her since we were in public.

Anyway, I forgave her and moved on but it was really intense. If she had had something to hit me with other than her fist I'm sure she would have used it. I've never seen anything escalate so quickly.

And it turns out that Elder Perez was anti'd by her a year ago at Walmart! Small world! I mentioned her name to him and he just looked at me and laughed and said, "I know her!"

So that was exciting. 

We have two baptisms coming up next week. We were supposed to have one on the 17th but something intense happened. 

We fasted as a zone yesterday for miracles and in the middle of the fast we got a text from the Ward Mission Leader saying, "Prepared family of three ready to be baptized!" followed by address and information. 

Miracles, man.

Elder Harder's flight information for his flight home arrived this week. He leaves in twenty days. He is hanging in strong and I frequently thank him for that.

What mission is Arlington in now?

Thanks Mom, Eric, Will, and Elizabeth for the letters!

Hope all is well with all,
Elder Johnson

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