Monday, January 13, 2014

13 January 2014

Well the big news is in!!

I'm staying in Mesa for another 6 weeks! At the end of that time I will have been here for 7.5 months. That's fine with me! Right now we have two families getting baptized within two weeks. We're pretty excited.

We will be moving apartments though. I do not know the address. We are expecting a zone of 28 missionaries this transfer - the biggest in the mission by 4 companionships. We're ready for that. President Toone needs to split a zone and we've been on his radar as the top producing one so this is the first step in the split. We are going to spend the next 6 weeks pumping everybody up for what is going to come. #mesapride.

I'm proud of our area. Six months ago there were no investigators, the ward was unexcited and slow, and there were some problems. Gradually through that time things have picked up dramatically. I can safely say that if I were to leave tomorrow, I would have left it better than I found it. And I don't say that pridefully, but rather as Dad said it. "I know that it was not because of our abilities but because the Lord enhanced our capabilities." 

I am excited to stay with Elder Diaz for at least 6 more weeks. On the transfer recommendation form we wrote, for us, "DEJENOS TRABAJAR" (Let us work!) It clearly worked :)

Transfer call night works like this: we get in at 9:00pm, plan till 9:30, and then lounge around and wait for either a leadership call or the call telling us who is leaving or staying. For the past 6 months, the "who-is-leaving-call" has come between 11-12:00am - super late. Last night it was done by 10:10pm. 

My normal tradition is to sit and lounge around while sharing cookie dough with everyone. Last night we were still working on weekly stats when the call came! So disappointing! Oh well, next time.

The big news of this past week was going to be how our instrumental and vocal performance for Elder Holland went! It was a week of stress for me as I worked on refining the parts that needed refinement. Many hours were spent on just a few notes. We practiced twice a week for two weeks as a group to prepare. Our last rehearsal was at the building we would be performing at. We quickly realized that we would have problems with speakers in the gym being broken. There was also not enough space. But we practiced anyway.

On our last two practice run throughs, the pianist, who had memorized the music, skipped the second page. Twice. We were nervous that would happen during the performance but we trusted him and he is an amazing pianist. As we were talking, one of the audio technicians who was setting up for Elder Holland (on Friday, the day before the devotional), had his phone go off. He said, "Uh oh."

We said, "What?!"
"Elder Holland will not be coming. He is on an emergency reassignment from the first presidency."


Those were our first reactions. Elder Myler screamed haha and my heart just sank. Three missions were going to come together for this - over 800 people. We had spent hours and hours practicing. 

And Elder Holland wasn't going to come. Elder Myler jokingly said, "My eternal bragging rights are gone!"

And he never did come. Instead, the area 70 filled in for him. The devotional was kept on the program and three missions came together to listen to three mission presidents and their wives and a Seventy speak.

It was a great program. Powerful.

Our performance went alright as well. I was terrified haha. I haven't performed in front of 800 people before I don't think. My leg was shaking and my bowing was a little shaky at the start but it came together and I was miraculously able to hit my last few notes which were a challenge the whole time for me. We prayed a lot. And it worked!

As I was sitting in that front row listening and watching the mission presidents and their wives speak and sit and interact, I was super impressed. I guess I had never really looked closely at them before to the degree that I had then. These were people of power. But also, equally people of humility. They knew their purpose and they weren't afraid to help others know their purpose. I was blown away by their professionalism but also the pure love that they showed. It was a tender moment and one I hope I never forget.

Sunday was one of the happiest days I've had in a long time. And that says something because I've been happy for a very long time. I was able to watch the members and the families that we brought interact and mesh perfectly. I was all smiles. Members, your examples and love make a huge difference!! You don't even know! Even little things make big differences!

The families that we are teaching will forever be special to me. All of them are, but these ones, I don't know, there is just something special about them. They are two families that are already looking to the temple. Two families of future leaders on the ward and stake level. Two families that have been prepared by members and by the spirit for where they are now. And it is so exciting to see.

Speaking of being prepared by members, we were pleasantly surprised when two women and a man walked into church yesterday. The benefit of being in an area for 6 months is that you know everyone. I didn't recognize them so said hi. One said, "This is my friend. I work with her and we are in a different stake but this is her ward and we came with her. She is ready." 

She loved church.

We had a sad moment yesterday when we handed off another investigator family to the sisters. It's a long and complicated story but it's never fun to say goodbye to someone who you have grown to love.

We are teaching a lot of families. This is awesome.

This week I repented and became more bold. I've been pretty straight with people for my whole mission but I don't feel as if I've been as bold as the prophets in the Bible or the Book of Mormon. We were standing outside a man's home and he was explaining how his life was and how hard it was. He was a gangster and it was very, very, very clear. The impression came to be super bold with him. I was scared but I did. The words came out, "Hey ____, your life is not good right now. If you don't make changes, your kids will come out like you and you just told us that that is not what you want."

He got really offended. He did not like that. But we testified powerfully to him that this was his moment. Five minutes later he said he would be baptized.

How cool that was for me! He has unfortunately moved since then but I was grateful to know that because I acted on an impression from the spirit, he was able to recognize and start making some changes that he should have made years ago. I was grateful to know that I had done my job.

I don't ever want to be the reason that someone is not able to repent as soon as they can.

On a completely different note, I want to share with everyone some new slang I've learned this past week. It's almost a completely different language.

Here goes:

What's up:
Que rollo?
Que cho?
Que jais?
Que cucas?
Que cuento?
Que cuarenta?
Que transita?
Que once doce?
Que tramas?
Que chorizo?
Que pasion?
Que hubole?

Cool down/relax!

Send me money!
Mandame billuyo!

Boss! Send me money because I'm super hungry!
Jeffa! Mandame un billuyo porque esta gruesa la jaria!

See you later!:
Alli se ven
Alli las bisagras
Alli los vidrios

Hahahhaha. These people are awesome. We had a member - the most Mexican man you'll ever imagine - and he knows the best slang. So awesome.

This past week we had a zone meeting and a zone conference. For my training in the zone meeting, to teach the importance of obedience I did a fun little game. I took all of the missionaries to the gym and set up 12 chairs. There are 12 companionships. One of each companionship was blindfolded and sat down. The other companion stood nearby. They were given 60 seconds to guide their blindfolded companion to four separate chairs - but the unblindfolded companion was not allowed to move. So the room became very loud, very quick. I put obstacles like tables in the gym for them to get around.

Only the listener who followed exactly what his companion said got to win.

It was a fun way to teach obedience and also the difficulty of choosing the right in a world with so many distractions. I had a good laugh and no one died which was nice :)

For zone conference the next day I did a training on unity. I took "the most unified companionship" and tied them up from their fingertips to their shoulders, made them sit down, then lay down on their side, take off their shoes, and try to stand up together. They were tied back to back. It was pretty hard but they eventually got it. I then tied it into how, as missionary companionships, we need to be able to stand up in difficult situations and succeed. 

Thank you so much for the letters, Doug, Scott, and family! You're all the best!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Johnson

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