Monday, October 21, 2013

21 October 2013

Waiting for transfer calls last night was really annoying.

It all started at the Mission President's Fireside (MPF). We were asked to translate but all the receivers were out of batteries so we drove to the mission office to get some more.

On the way there I found out I had been "red lighted," meaning my driving privileges have been permanently revoked. 

Which is ridiculous since I haven't driven since I was put on the temporary suspension. There's something wrong with the system and I'll get to the bottom of this! There was a bug when I got yellow lighted and there's no doubt a bug since I got red lighted really and truly and honestly for doing nothing since I haven't driven for two weeks.

Buuuut anyway.

Translating was fun. I always leave with a headache and confused about what the person spoke on since I'm not really listening, just listening, if you know what I mean.

So after the MPF ended we headed home. Transfer calls, for leadership, come usually between 9-10 and the Assistants call the Zone Leaders between 10-10:30 to say which zone members are going then the Zone Leaders call the District Leaders who call their stewardship and spread the news.

From 9-9:15 we planned, 9:30-10 we did zone stats. Still hadn't heard anything.

We sat and waited.

At 10:45 we still hadn't heard anything.

At 11:15 we still hadn't heard anything.

At 11:30 we still hadn't heard anything.

At 11:45 pm they finally called. I've never waited so long! 

So the news? I'm staying. This'll be the longest I've ever stayed in a single area. I was in Yuma for six months but covered different "areas" or wards or parts of a ward. In 6 weeks I'll have been in these wards for 4.5 months. I'm ok with that, they're both doing really well right now. 

One of the cool things we did this past week was meeting some Jehovah's Witnesses. We taught them a lesson (they probably think they taught us too now that I think about it) and set up a return appointment. We prepared for that return appointment carefully knowing that if their attitude and our attitude wasn't just right it would clash.

I started it off with, "We are different, we all know that, so lets focus on what we agree on for this time!" 

That lasted for ten minutes until we talked about priesthood authority and then the response you here every time it goes in the direction they don't want it to go, "So, do you know God's name?"

The lesson went downhill from there. We accepted a copy of the watchtower but he refused to take a Book of Mormon. He would not pray with us either. To this date I've only ever gotten one Jehovah's Witness to pray for/with me.

I think I shocked him with how much of their doctrine I knew. I learned a lot (about and from them) in Queen Creek. 

Revelation of the week: Apostate and apostrophe are very similar words.

Mesa is getting decorated for halloween. I guess I've never really thought about Halloween before. There are a couple of apartments nearby that went all out. We're talking decapitated heads, knives, corpses, body parts all over the place. It's disgusting. I realized that Halloween can get way out of hand really quickly. I like the candy side of it though.

We are still waiting for the mission policy for what to do on Halloween. Last Halloween we sat inside a church for 9 hours and read from the New Testament. It was pretty fun. 

We had THE funniest dinner this past week. 

Oh, to preface all of that, we moved this week. Our new address is 949 S Longmore St #177, Mesa AZ 85202. It is down the street from the last one.

Our new apartment isn't 10 years old and is a lot smaller. We sleep in bunk beds in the living room and use the two bedrooms between the four of us to study in.

The day after we moved (which took until 1pm...) Elder Gaspar got sick. At Sister Toone's request he stayed inside and slept. We worked until lunch time. I took spanish study on my own and then realized I couldn't do "internet proselyting hour" since he wasn't able to watch my screen. Then I realized our area book was in the car and that I couldn't leave to get it alone. So I went to work cleaning up from the move. 

Mom, I know what it was like to have to have dealt with me growing up. I'm always the one cleaning dishes and picking up trash.

So I unpacked everything into the kitchen. Set up the bathrooms and beds. Cleaned our room of the trash from moving, put things on the walls, and set up my desk. I had everything nicely organized. Eventually our roommates showed up and I sent them to the car to get the area book. For the next two or so hours I entered the teaching records into the iPad to "digitize" that information. 

Then I played spanish Jenga all by myself. That wasn't fun.

Then I wrote in my journal.

Then I cleaned some more. 

Then our roomamtes came back and offered to send me to the dinner appointment with one of them while the other prepared to pack and go home.

I jumped on that invitation and finally was able tog et out of that apartment. Dinner was in a retirement community. The average age must have been at least 80. Everyone wore name tags because everyone forgot each others names.

As we sat outside of the cafe we saw dozens and dozens of elderly people walk in and out. We sat in a tabled area and a bunch of women in their late 80s came over and started gossiping about George Clooney and other people. I felt very out of place. We sat and listened and I was dying of laughter inside. It was the most cliche thing in the world.

Finally we got inside for our dinner. The food was nice. As we sat down with the woman who invited us, someone else, a less active member of the church in her late 80s, joined us. Her daughter was serving a mission in Tennessee. The missionary I was on the exchange with was in his first six weeks. So naturally I offered for him to write her. She got so excited, got up, and ran to her apartment to bring back some pictures for him. Turns out she was Miss Utah at some point and she got so excited about the idea of him writing her. 

So basically I'm a matchmaker. 

It turned out to be one of the funnier dinners of my mission.

This week I learned one of my friends at BYU was in the same stake and is close friends with one of the sister missionaries in the Mesa zone. Small world!

The highlight of this past week was being able to go back to Gilbert zone for a baptism of someone I taught in the Ray 5th ward. 

This was one of the most special baptisms of my mission. Why? This is why:

When I got transferred out of Queen Creek I was told I was going to train. So I picked up my companion, Elder Diaz from Argentina, and we got straight to work. We saw many miracles and I think he taught me more than I taught him. 

We "whitewashed" in, meaning we were both new to the area. We spent many hours that first week reading in the area book about the names of people the missionaries before had taught. One name in particular stuck out to me. I felt very strongly that we needed to visit her. I pulled the record out and wrote myself a note to visit her.

Turns out this person had been taught by Elder Myler, my MTC companion and close friend, in his first weeks in the mission field. Cool!

Soon after we were told we were moving. In the move both the record and the note were misplaced. Four weeks later it showed up and we went to visit her.

She was awesome. The teaching experience with her was one that has helped me and one that I continually look back on for what we as missionaries can do to help find and solve concerns. 

When I was transferred out of Gilbert she was on date to get baptized. Due to some unforseen problems that didn't happen.

However last week I heard the news that she was back on date to get baptized. I made arrangements to get there and called and told Elder Myler. He went as well. 

This picture has all the missionaries that taught her in it. It was an awesome day. There were over 14 missionaries there to support her and like always the Ray 5th ward showed up in huge numbers. It was so awesome to see all those members again. I really connected with them and love them all.

There was a very special spirit at that baptismal service and it was one of the moments I hope I look back on forever. The seed of faith was planted and harvested. It may have taken over a year and an 8 month "break" but it happened!

This past week was the culmination of much coordination and effort for some people I'm teaching on Facebook! Someone I'm teaching in London AND Pakistan were able to go to church and make contact with the local missionaries! They LOVED church! 

Elder Gaspar and I are also on special assignment to literally teach an entire congregation in Mexico that wants to get baptized. Another set of missionaries here helped a woman there meet with missionaries and get baptized into the local congregation in Mexico. She has been helping many many people prepare for baptism. Last night President Toone extended to us the assignment to teach and help them prepare for baptism.



We set personal records for number of people at church yesterday. We had 13 people  between our two wards and three at church overseas. So cool.


Another really cool experience I had this past week was during my personal studies. I was sitting there thinking about what we could do to help the wards missionary efforts be more focused as well as the stakes. The idea came to help the stake create a stake mission plan. Then I thought about the power that would exist if wards organized their ward mission plans along the keys of the stake president and the stake mission plan. And then if the families used the ward mission plans to make family mission plans! 

We are going to be delivering a copy of the ward mission plans to every dinner we attend.

The following day I was reading an Ensign from 2007 and stumbled upon an article addressing that very idea. It gave clarification to my idea and helped us to refine it so it could be presented. That was cool in and of itself. I had never heard of stake mission plans before and using it in wards and the ward plan  in families.

We met with the stake presidents in the two stakes that our zone covers and presented the ideas to them. They loved it. They got so excited. They have committed to using a "large majority of our stake council time" to forming and creating the plan.

The work is moving forward.

Anyway, thank you all for your support! Love you all! 
Elder Johnson

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