Monday, May 19, 2014

19 May 2014

Transfer calls came at 11:00pm last night. I will be staying in South Phoenix and Elder Myler will be leaving for his last transfer elsewhere. The phone call was devastating and a shock - I really believed we would finish together for reasons that I will clarify later. But I know that President Toone is inspired and whatever happens happens for a reason. 

Today begins my last six weeks as a full time missionary. That's a humbling thought. But it's also one that I am determined not to forget about. 

I have served around a lot of missionaries. For almost 23 months I have watched them in their final months, weeks, and days. Some have prepared for the next step, others have not. The idea of "work hard until the end and then think about the next step" has been lived by many. They worked hard until the end but I've seen them have hard transitions at the end. Other missionaries couldn't stop thinking about going home and burned out before that day came. They also had a hard transition.

I'm going to work hard until the end and think about the next step the whole way. Not in a distracting way but in a way that allows me to set real goals for what is to come. President Toone confirmed that inspiration last week. Having done so, I feel like I can focus more in the moment as I know where I want my long term goals to take me. 

We had an eventful week. But outside of our area our zone had an eventful week as well. I can't really explain it but conversion is happening here with these great missionaries. Four weeks straight with almost every stat doubled. What a great way for Elder Myler to finish his time here. 

Facebook success is exploding. However, with that, there are also challenges. I am teaching a man who lives in a small village in India. I 'know' the mission president there; he is one of my favorites. This last week I emailed him the referral and he informed me that this man lived 2-3 days away from the nearest church building. There were no missionaries in his area and so contact and teaching would be impossible.


I asked him what he wanted me to do. He advised me to give the man access to the church websites and then allow him to learn from there on his own until that part of India is ready for the church to be established. I knew he was right but that was a hard moment. The man who disappointed but understood. I told the mission President that we'll send them enough referrals for that entire city to justify a stake there :)

You see, these are neat experiences that would be impossible without online proselyting  What a unique situation for a missionary in Phoenix, AZ to have. 

This was another week of "dropping" people. When they're not willing to do their part, we can't do our part so we "drop" them until an undetermined future date when they are ready to act. It's never fun but you know when it is right. There is a reassurance amidst the sorrow.

We had a tough day last week. We ended up dropping a family, three lessons in a row fell through, and our member had cancelled. We thought back to why we are still not baptizing in our area and it was a discouraging moment. As we headed to our next appointment, Elder Myler took a wrong turn and brought us down a street that a family that is never home lives on. We did not plan to be there or visit them but I had a strong impression to stop and knock their door. Surprise! They were not home. But across the street was a man sitting under a tree drinking a 40 oz. We determined to talk to him and seconds later he yelled at us to come over. 

So we did! He stood up and met us at the gate, clearly drunk, but clearly wanting to change. He had experienced some hard things in his life. Right from the start we were very direct and bold with him. We wanted him to know what we do as missionaries and that we would not waste time with people who did not want to act. I asked him, "what are you willing to change?" He quickly responded, "I need to get baptized."

If you insist! We talked for a while and asked him how he could prepare. He said, "church, scriptures." I looked at his 40 oz and said, "are you willing to give up drinking?"


"Then pour that out."

"But, I'm not ready yet."

"If you're willing to change, you need to show God your faith."

"You know what, you're right!" And then he poured out the entire bottle. 
Those are the best moments on a mission. He had a big smile as soon as he finished pouring it out. He knew it was right. 

It was one of those moments when we knew that God was watching out for us. If our lessons had not fallen through, we never would have had time to visit this man. If our member had not cancelled, we likely never would have turned down that street. If we had not taken a wrong turn in our car, we likely never would have met this man. 

But all things happen for a reason. All we can do is make sure we're doing "what we ought to do, when we ought to be doing it."

This week included a great success story from the Philippines. I am teaching woman who has distraught when I first found her on Facebook. She wanted to abort her unborn child and felt lost. We taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ, about the importance of families, and about God's love. She decided to keep the baby and practice her faith. We sent missionaries to visit her but they could not find her home. They emailed me back (through their mission president) reporting that the address was a blank lot.

Devastated I contacted her again. She said she had watched the two missionaries go by but was unsure about how to approach them. So she didn't. She gave me her address again, I sent it, and the next day I got the most wonderful message to her about how much she loved their visit, how excited she was that they spoke Tagalog, and how their ENTIRE FAMILY had been in the meeting. They have all accepted baptism. The husband is taking the Book of Mormon to work to share it. The mission president excitedly emailed me saying that the missionaries were also reporting great things about the family.

You see, these are neat experiences that would be impossible without online proselyting  What a unique situation for a missionary in Phoenix, AZ to have. 

We visited a beautiful family this last week. The husband is progressing much slower than the mother who is ready. We talked to her about it and invited her to be baptized before him. In the past she has rejected that because she wants to make this decision with him. We invited her to pray about it. When we returned she said that she felt like she shuold go ahead with it first. We read 1 Ne 8 about Lehi's vision or the iron rod and how she can lead her family. She, being an amazing wife to her husband, said that she needed to counsel with him about it first before she set a date. She wanted to respect him as her husband and make sure it was ok with him.

This family is one of my favorites. They teach me so much everytime we visit them. And what a humbling experience it was to see her get the answer to the prayer that she initially was unsure about! And so quickly, at that! 

This past week Elder Myler and I exchanged with our roommates, Elder Hardy and Olsen. Elder Olsen got sick so we came in and I died of boredom. I managed to read dozens and dozens of pages of old Ensigns, practice the violin for an hour for an upcoming opportunity that we will have to play, and clean the house. I don't like being inside.

Saturday and Sunday was stake conference in the Phoenix, AZ stake. President and Sister Toone spoke at both sessions. 

After the Saturday night session, Elder Myler and I had our temple recommend interviews since ours expire at the end of this month. I've never felt more prepared for an interview - it was a great experience. I took the opportunity to ask President Toone some doctrinal questions that I had and was blown away, like everytime, by his answers. I have learned so much from him.

Before the interview ended he asked me how I would feel if our companionship was affected by the transfers the following day. For 5 minutes I told him that we should stay together. It didn't work. 

He asked how Facebook was going. I told him some of the miracles we have experienced recently. He was touched. I showed him this map (attached). It is a sacred evidence to me that this is the Lord's work. It shows where all of our Facebook investigators live.

We are teaching people in:

the USA, including: Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York

Canada: Alberta

Mexico: Quintana Roo

South America: Ecuador, Peru, Brazil

Europe: England, the Ukraine

Africa: Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa

Asia/Middle East: Kuwait, Pakistan, India, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia 

Pacific: Australia, New Zealand.

Over 20 countries. Over 10 languages, connected over google translate and broken English. 

President Toone was touched and asked if he could share that in the Sunday session of stake conference. We didn't expect him to cite our names but he definitely did and told everyone that we had six weeks left haha. It was a little embarrassing; President Toone is a king of making you feel special. 

We had people come up to us afterwards and offer to help us teach people in languages where they had served their missions. 

You see, these are neat experiences that would be impossible without online proselyting  What a unique situation for a missionary in Phoenix, AZ to have.

Do you remember last week when I wrote about that Iraqi family? Apparently they told the man that brought them that they saw "coronas" around our heads when they talked to us. I told the  man that we saw them around them as well. What a special family.

Last night was the Mission President's Fireside. We translated. It wasn't the best job we have ever done but it was sufficient. Afterwards I was overjoyed to hear that the last three members of a family that I taught and baptized would be getting baptized next week in Mesa! I'm making plans to go. I love that family. The mother pulled me aside and said, "You will always be our missionaries. We will never forget you and everything you have done for us."

That was a tender experience.

I also saw another wonderful family that I taught in Mesa! They went to the Mesa temple for the first time last week. They're doing so strong. So well. :) :) :)

Life continues to move on here. Miracles happen everyday. This transfer has made me sad but we move on in faith and trust in God :)

PS: I made some calculations today...there's a chance that I go back with Elder Diaz again for my last six weeks. I'm 40% sure that will happen. Start praying! 

Love you all!
Elder Johnson

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