Wednesday, September 11, 2013

2 September 2013

Crazy, crazy, crazy. To think I've been melting in Arizona for a year blows my mind.

We have some good news! We were the first companionship in the entire world to break an iPhone or iPad. We called them following up on the replacement and said, "maybe you can think about using better protectors?" The guy said, "Well, we haven't had any problems yet - you guys are the first one." Pioneers of the digital age of missionary work and pioneers of breaking iPhones! The replacement should arrive today.

This past week Facebook went mission-wide. We had a leadership meeting in Tempe and did a conference call with SLC. They introduced Facebook to the mission and we had a six or seven hour meeting on to do and not to do as well as hearing some success stories. One sister in Provo has had more than five baptisms in five different countries as a result of increased influence.

It hit me during that meeting how much missionary work has changed. And I mean more than just rules and materials. Who we are is also changing. Before, Mormon missionaries were all the same: dark pants, ties, white shirts, black tag, short hair. We were called "Elder X" and our first names weren't really shared. We were robots in a way, identity-wise at least.

Now, we are to use our first name on Facebook. We are to keep our likes and get rid of the non-mission appropriate ones. We are encouraged to connect with people through our likes and be more personal. It just seems to be like the church wants us to be human now and be able to be someones friend. I love the idea and I think it will have huge success in the coming weeks, months, and years. It's a totally new approach and completely inspired.

The excitement at the leadership meeting was intense. Everyone was going berserk. The energy was non-channeled though; they don't know what they're in for. It's not easy to use Facebook effectively and it is very easy to do nothing.

Tomorrow we'll be training on that topic, hopefully get some good ideas and answer some good questions. I'm excited.

We had an insane experience a couple of days ago. Maybe that's a bad choice of words, for reasons you'll shortly read. We were driving to visit someone and saw two people in front of the church. So naturally we pulled over and went to say hi. They split up and ran different directions. We followed one only like 30 feet to a small tree which she sat under. We went over and said hi and then she unfolded us the most intense conspiracy theory I've ever heard. She spoke quiet and we were by a road so it was hard to hear but the story included things like: lost husband, suing lock company, lawyer disappearing, children gone, telephone company stealing, etc. I tried to tell her I was sorry for what was going and she went off pretty explicitly on some pretty inappropriate things. Elder Harder got the next mouth full of words and bad comments so we stood up and left. She was clearly clinically insane. She had wristbands on and stuff and had been homeless for a year. So we left and she followed us, screaming obscenities. She would yell at people walking by and tell them not to speak with us. Eventually we looked at each other, kind of worried for the unknown, and turned to see her. I thought she was going to stab me! We talked to her, calmed her down, and left. Never saw her again and hope  we never do. The rest of the night was terrible and we could not feel the spirit.

The next day saved it though. We had an amazing experience with one of our investigators. He's gone through some of the hardest trials I've ever heard of and has a number of children with a number of different women. We have been teaching him for three weeks and he's a big tough man from LA. He always denies the invitation to pray and doesn't read. Last night we went over and taught a super bold lesson, addressing his concerns and letting him know God really does love him despite his past mistakes. He carries a lot of guilt on his shoulders and he says that us coming by always helps. He feels everyone has given up on him and he's a lost cause. We assured him otherwise. At the end of the lesson, the spirit was super powerful and we took a different approach to prayer. I testified to him of the importance, the power, and the potential of prayer and I told him, "now, ____, we're going to say a prayer before we leave. I'll say the first one, Elder Harder will say the second, and you'll say the last. We're going to kneel." And then he followed us down, I said the first prayer; a really short prayer praying for him, Elder Harder did the second with the same topic, and then we knelt in silence as the investigator said such a humble and sincere prayer. He asked God to be patient with him and thanked him for what he had. It was as if he was talking to God (which he was!) While still kneeling he looked up to us and thanked us many times.

We left spiritually edified and at peace.

That word, man. We've used the word "edified" everyday. We have had some amazing experiences together and it's crazy to think this is Elder Harder's last week. He has been a great missionary and is leaving behind a great legacy.

I realized this morning that while my mother is in Tanzania, Africa climbing Mt Kilamanjaro, I'm in Arizona hiking a mountain. We did a 7 mile hike this morning that no one was really prepared for. Not enough water, way longer than we expected, and pretty steep! Some highlights of the hike were a rattlesnake and two giant lizards. And we found out one of the Sister missionaries is a mountain goat!

It was a really cool hike and very much an Arizona hike. No colors, just cactus, rock, and hills and heat. The whole zone went, all twenty of us, and it was a really cool experience.

This week was a bit slower than previous weeks. We struggled with finding and teaching and everyone fell off their baptismal date.

But we did teach more than 10 lessons over Facebook so that was super cool!

Thanks Eric and Will and Mom for the letters this week!

And thanks to the rest of you for being great!

With love,
Elder Johnson

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