I'll tell you.
Mexicans here love dogs. All dogs. Maybe it's a $5,000 pit bull. Maybe it's a $0.10 Chihuahua. Whatever it is, they have it.
This last week we went to visit the house that has the dog that almost killed Elder Myler a few weeks back. Bad idea. As Elder Myler and I (on our last day as companions) pulled up to the home, I noticed something was wrong...
But what was it?
As I looked closer I could see the evil German shepherd lurking behind the fence. And then I saw it! The gate was open just a crack! I knew that if it got up and ran for the gate before I could close it we would die. And this guy was important enough to risk it! So I slowly got out of the drivers seat and asked Elder Myler to grab a rock.
But in my excitement I did not wait for him to be behind me.
I slowly approached the fence...
Stared the dog down...
and then it was up! Around the corner of the house came running the other dog: a huskie! I sprinted for the gate, the dogs sprinted for the gate, and we met in a clash of life and death at the gate!
I put my hand out to push it closed right as the German shepherd jumped it with its mouth open. It beat me to the gate! The gate flew open.
Not knowing what else to do I kicked my leg out and hit the gate with my foot, closing it again and almost squishing the German shepherd at the same time. I kept it closed with my foot as the dog stood up, probably 5 feet tall on its feet with front paws on the gate, barking at me.
I was sure I was dead.
AND THE GUY WASN'T EVEN HOME.
When we started to drive the car away I had to pull over and pause for a second. That was one of the scariest moments of my life haha.
That's a true story.
I got an amazing letter this week from one of the families that I baptized in Mesa. In it they talked about their recent trips to the Mesa temple to do baptisms, their plan to get sealed in January, and a progress report on callings and other things that are going on. It made my day to get that!
I thought my week could not be any better after that.
And then transfer day came.
I was heartbroken to learn that Elder Myler would be leaving. He got sent to Yuma in a pretty hard situation. I've been praying for him.
I learned that coming to Mesa would be Elder Sylvester! He is almost identical to Elder Harder. And we are almost in the same situation. When I was called to be a zone leader last July, Elder Harder was in his last six weeks and taught me the ropes. I had been out a year. Well, Elder Sylvester has been out for a year and I'm in my last six weeks. They have the same mannerisms and the same way of speaking, the same interests, and many other similarities! We already teach really well together because, well, I've already had him for six weeks (as Elder Harder!)
We're having a lot of fun. He's a great missionary with great intentions. And he speaks Spanish suuuper well!
But transfer meeting got even better when I heard a missionary say, "Elder Johnson, someone from Yuma is outside waiting for you!"
What? for me? from Yuma? Do they even remember me? It has been two years! I had no idea who it could be.
I walked outside and heard a man yell for me...
I recognized that voice...
I got a little feeling of what heaven feels like when I turned around and saw the very first person that I baptized! He was heading my way and we met up and gave each other a big hug. He was in tears as he told me how grateful he was for everything we did for him. He continued on about how much better his life has been in the last two years.
I can honestly say that I have never felt so happy in my life.
And then he made me even happier. He said, "In the last two years I have baptized my mom, my dad, my aunt, my uncle, and my sister!" He is very active in the branch and has had leadership callings down there. You'll recognize the face in the attached picture if you scroll back on my blog to last November :) :) :) :)
What a great moment that was. I have not seen him in two years.
Words cannot describe the joy that I felt in that moment. And now he's baptizing everyone down there!
Before transfer meeting, President Toone called us into his office to tell us about the upcoming transfer. He told Elder Myler about his assignment and me about mine. And then he said, "You two need to know how I feel about you..." The next few minutes were very humbling to know how much President Toone loves and trusts us. He did not want to split us up.
That man has changed my life.
As we were walking out I looked back and said, "I'd love to see the transfer board before I die, President!" (Die is slang we use for finishing the mission.)
He said, "Close the door," with a smile on his face. What?! Transfer meeting hadn't even happened yet! It was the fulfillment of 23 months of imagination.
He walked us through each aspect: why some pictures were sideways, what colors meant, etc etc.
I'm approaching the one year mark of serving with Elder Hardy! He was "born" into Mesa when I got transferred there. We have been together ever since. He's a wonderful missionary.
This last weekend was the first part of our mission fast. It will continue next weekend. At transfer meeting, President introduced to the rest of the mission the plan he had to fast as a mission so that every companionship could baptize this transfer. In each zone, we are to assign each companionship another companionship that they will pray and fast for so they can achieve that. For example, we are praying and fasting for some sisters and they're doing the same for us etc etc. We're already seeing the miracles come in.
For example, Phoenix South zone led the mission in almost every single statistic this last week. A few months ago it was second to last.
We heard amazing stories yesterday of people showing up to church and asking to be baptized the next week, of the First Presidency giving two men in our stake permission to be baptized less than a month from when the letter of recommendation was sent (unheard of) and even more amazing things!
I have never fasted without a miracle. Never. Not once.
Miracles happen. Every. Single. Day.
Let one happen in your life! You need to ask for it!
I was able to go back to Mesa this past weekend to watch one of my recent converts (from December) baptize the rest of his family :) He did amazing.
I was OVERJOYED that 3/4 of my recent converts from Mesa have gone to the temple to do baptisms. That made me so happy!
There were 16 missionaries at the baptismal service. President Toone called us beforehand, upset, and asked what we should do about it. There will be a policy change in the future because half of those missionaries didn't ask to go until the day before or day of. I asked a month ago! But the new policy is no going back to old areas for baptisms. 16 missionaries is way too many at one baptismal service!
Well, the miracles continue! I'm feeling really good. We're working hard. I've prepared 23 months for these last six weeks - I'm ready to make them my best yet!
Thanks for the letters!
Love you all,