Thursday, November 21, 2013

18 November 2013

I bought corn and salad for the first time in my life last week from the grocery store and ate both for lunch and got sick. Lesson learned: healthy food is not as healthy as everyone thinks it is. I knew I should have bought those donuts...

This past week was a week full of 'stuff.' On Wednesday we had interviews with President Toone. He came over to visit the zone. As he did those privately with each missionary, Elder Gaspar and I did trained on some aspects of missionary work. It was a lot of fun.

For part of my training I was going to address how we can be more excited about what we're sharing. I had everyone tell me their favorite hobbies and asked for someone to volunteer who was the most passionate about his/her hobby. One of the Elders raised his hand and volunteered. He was way into dungeons and dragons so I had him teach me the basics in about three minutes and try to get me interested. It was a really effective way to demonstrate the difference between being excited and energetic about something as you teach it and being rote and emotionless. It taught the principle pretty well and everyone got a good laugh. By the end of the practice he had convinced me that I should be a halfling named grapling hook hahaha. 

President Toone does his interviews a little differently than President Howes did them. He interviews each companionship together and then each missionary individually. This shortens the available time for personal interviews but allows him to address some important things for the individual companionship. The interviews were around 5-15 minutes. 

My one-on-one interview with President Toone was awesome. It turns out he knows Grandpa Johnson! That came up as we were walking out the door haha. These interviews are always very uplifting and inspiring times. It's amazing what you can learn in 5-15 minutes.

If you'll remember, last week we did a zone fast. Our zone saw many miracles. One of the miracles we didn't even realize until later that week when we got a phone call from newly weds (as of a week or so) who both returned from their missions within the last two-six months (they knew eachother before hand). They had moved into the ward the day before we fasted. They are SO excited for missionary work, it is AWESOME! Their first sunday they invited us and one of our investigators over for dinner. That's tomorrow. We're pumped. I went out with them on splits last week while Elder Gaspar was supposed to go out with someone else (more on that later.) 

That was probably one of the best evenings of my entire mission. And I think it was all because of one lesson...

No one we were visiting was home. No one wanted to listen to us outside. We went over to one of our appointments and managed to find her home. That single lesson was the best one I've ever taught in my entire mission. That night was the culmination of howevermanymonths of practice and study. I felt like the spirit was guiding everything I was saying. It was really cool to hear her comment, "I really feel the spirit..." The members did a perfect job with their insights and the spirit was super powerful. 

I walked out of that lesson on cloud 9 haha. That was an extremely uplifting experience. As we pulled into the church we noticed Elder Gaspar was still there. His member had never shown up so he had sat on the stage making phone calls for an hour and a half while the spanish ward played soccer hahahaha. He wasn't too happy hahahahaha. 

We are both convinced that them showing up when they did was a miracle of fasting.

Another unique thing that happened this week was Skyping home.

It wasn't a normal skype call. Nah, not really. My Dad had the idea to Skype me in to his lesson in church about hastening the work of salvation. So, projecting me onto the wall, I was able to talk and share some experiences with the members of the local congregation I went to in Virginia! That was cool! 
Sunday School at the Arlington 2nd Ward, Virginia
I was thinking about that this morning...that was probably the first time in the history of the church that that has happened. There is a lot of hype from other missionaries about that experience as well - the picture was almost perfect for it - Dad was just out of the screen though. 

The exciting week culminated with a hectic night last night. We had forgotten that they were planning on us to translate at the mission president's fireside. So, with an hour or so to go before it started, we made some phone calls and arranged for the lesson we had to just go to the fireside and hear the talks. 

Elder Gaspar and I were asked to accompany the ward choir in the spanish ward with our violins so we had, the day before, found two violins that we borrowed. 

And then the musical number for the MPF cancelled. We volunteered to play a violin duet and were accompanied by Elder Myler on piano. It came together really really well, especially considering we had an hour to practice and only went through it twice with Elder Myler. 

The piece wasn't hard - Beautiful Savior - but having not really played for three years, I was surprised! It was almost flawless. 

Our names were on the program for translating and for the musical number haha.

If you'll look at the picture, you on the Wolthuis side of the family recognize some familiar faces! We made the healthy decision to go to Wendys for lunch last week. After we had ordered, this family walked in and said, "Hi, missionaries!" 
Elder Paul Johnson, from Arlington, VA (son of  Rene Wolthuis Johnson, grandson of Henry B. Wolthuis) with Darrell and Christy Burnette of Tuscon, AZ (son of Ivan and Leone Burnette, family friends of Henry Wolthuis and family from 1968 onward, originally from Sweet Home, Oregon.  It's a small world!) meeting at a Wendy's in Mesa, AZ
We exchanged pleasantries and answered the traditional, 'so where are you from?' questions. They said they were from Oregon, I said, "Oh cool! My Mom is from Oregon but it's a small place you probably won't know."

They said, "Try us."

"Sweet Home."

"What! Wait...what is your Mom's last name?"


"Oh myyy!"

The rest is history. Turns out the Burnetts (spelling?) are very close family friends of Grandpa and Grandma Wolthuis and my mom and all her siblings and have known them for decades! Small world! If I remember, they're in Tucson now. They are both retired and are putting in mission papers! 

Twice a month we have the opportunity to meet with the stake presidents in the two stakes our zone covers. These are always wonderful experiences. The Gilbert side of Mesa zone has those meetings at 7am and invites all the missionaries in the stake over. 

Some of the wards there are struggling and the missionaries weren't so happy. They expressed their concerns.

I sat intently waiting to see how the stake president would respond. He is a friendly man, very kind, probably in his late 40s. 

I can't remember everything he said, but what he said was so perfect. I was blown away by his answers and advice he gave to the missionaries in his stake and knew that he was an inspired man. I hope they all apply what he said! 

Anyway, this has been an exciting week! More than half of our teaching pool dropped us or got dropped. Our number of lessons dropped from 55 to 35 but the quality sky rocketed. We are expecting a baptism this next Saturday and President Toone will likely be the one baptizing her - they've met a few times and he is the momentum behind a miracle in her life! Pray for her, she's going through some hard times right now overcoming some challenges. 

The church is true! 

Thanks for the letters Mom, Eric, Will, and Grandpa and Grandma! 

Elder Johnson

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