Monday, December 30, 2013

30 December 2013

Well, Christmas has come and gone and with it it has brought many miracles! 

It was nice to be able to Skype home. I'm still waiting for you to put the pictures on Facebook! It was a fun conversation! Thanks family, you're the best!!

Speaking of family, I was able to do something unique this past week: Skype Mom and Mark into two separate lessons that I had! We were teaching two separate lessons at the church building that night and had wifi and thought, 'hey, Mom speaks spanish...lets get her into this lesson!" and then, "Hey, Mark barely speaks English, lets get him into this lesson so he can learn a little more english!" They both went great.

And they were both baptized two days ago :)

We've recently decided that we aren't going to visit people anymore. This last week was our first time doing that for an entire week.

To clarify: our investigators come to us. We have their fellowships pick them up and take them to the church where we meet and talk. For new investigators, it is a great opportunity to give a tour of the chapel. For current investigators, it is a great opportunity to get away from the many distractions we so often run into: TV, music, cars, angry family members, birds, chihuahuas, and drugs. It works.

Mom, remember the awesome woman that you met over Skype? She and her entire family went to her son's baptism and to church the next day. They loved it. More on that later.

Christmas week is always a hard week to find people to teach. On Christmas Eve we worked until 1:00pm and then had P-Day until 6. At 6, we went caroling as a district. Those are always great memories. We got in our "drug rugs", santa hats, and went and visited some great people. We never said we were great singers but it was an awesome experience.

After the caroling, we met together as a zone and had a testimony meeting. It was a highlight of the week.

Christmas day was fun. We got up and did our morning studies and then the rest of the day was a P-day. That's when I skype'd home, had a nice lunch at a member's home, and then got together as a zone to play floor hockey. Fun times.

Like I said, we had two baptisms this last weekend. They're both amazing people who have developed strong testimonies. One was found, taught, and baptized in a grand total of 18 days. The other has been about three months. One of them was baptized amidst intense family opposition. Preachers got involved, anti literature was shared, and negative things were said. Regardless, this person stayed strong to the testimony she had received and was baptized. She said, "God has told me this is for me. I must do it." She's an awesome example for us all. 

It always makes me sigh when family members say, "HEY, BEFORE YOU GET BAPTIZED COME LEARN ABOUT MORMONS FROM MY PREACHER!" What? How is that even logical? I would never go to a Buddhist to learn about Catholicism. I would never go to a Mormon to learn about Wickens. To. The. Source.

We have changed how we do baptismal services. Historically they go, 
1. Opening hymn
2. Opening prayer
3. Talk on baptism
4. Ordinance of baptism
5. Talk on holy ghost
6. Welcome to ward
7. Closing hymn
8. Closing prayer

I've never liked that. When I was with Elder Harder we threw away the welcome to the ward's because they drag on and chase the awesome spirit that follows a baptismal ordinance away. But we tried something new this past weekend and it was AMAZING. The new baptismal program went like this:

1. Opening hymn
2. Opening prayer
3. Talk on whatever
4. Talk on whatever (don't need two)
5. Ordinance of baptism
6. Recent convert shares testimony
7. Closing hymn
8. Closing prayer

BAM! No refreshments. End on super high note, leave. The service only takes about 30 minutes then and it is so much more powerful.

I have another exciting announcement! Elder Holland is coming to our mission in a little under two weeks! And President Toone asked if Elder Myler and I would be involved in a violin/vocal/cello/piano musical number for him and two mission's worth of missionaries! We'll be performing, "Because He Lives," and it's super hard. I spent three hours getting five measures down...and I'm still not confident about it. It'll come together though, it always does somehow. It is so much fun to practice together. Mom said on the Skype call, "You're playing more violin on your mission than you did in your last year home!" 

That's sadly true....At least more in Mesa than I did back home.

Mesa Zone ended the month with nine baptisms. Seven of the nine came from member referrals and the other two came from self referrals. Interesting how that works. Elder Diaz and I sat down yesterday and prayerfully put some new ideas together for the month of January; things we can and need to improve on to do better. We know we can! All those nine people have such strong testimonies and are so grateful. They have the desire to share the gospel too because they've seen and felt the change that it has made in their lives.

Anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! Thanks family for the letters!

Con amor!
Elder Johnson

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