Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New area, new companion, Tortugas!

¡Hay tortugas por todos lados!

A part of the lagoon that I saw a crocodile!

Buenas tardes,

Wow what a crazy week. I dont know where to start. My new area is called Del Valle 1 and it is in the Zone Ampliación. I feel kinda wierd being back here in the same Zone I was just in 3 months ago, but it is exciting because I might be able to see Karen and Pedro. The area is pretty great, the members are awesome, and the Bishop really seems like he knows what he is doing. It is a lot poorer here than it was in my first area. There is this one place named Chipus and it is really really poor. It is also a lot mre muddy here than any area I have had. It still hasnt rained, but I am afraid for when it will rain because I dont know how we are going to get anywhere without losing our shoes. In our ward there are 2 other Elders as well. They are pretty cool and we eat our comidas with them so that is kinda fun. There is a giant lagoon here in the area, an dI even saw 2 crocodiles this week! I didnt get any pictures of them but it was pretty cool to see some crocodiles.

My companion, Elder Monforte, is awesome. We have a ton in common. We have even been in the same area (my first area). He also really likes guitar and played in a band before the mission. He has been a Zone Leader for the past 3 changes so he really knows what he is doing as a Zone Leader. I am learning a lot from him because he has a ton of time in the mission.I forgot to take a good picture of us together so ill get that to you for next week.

We had our zone meeting this week to talk about the new changes. One big change is that we are not allowed to do any more contacting, which feels realllly wierd. We have always found our investigators by contacting in the street or by knocking doors, but now if we do any of that, we are breaking the mission rules and going against the Area Seventys. They want us to find our investigators through the members and only through the members. Also, an investigator needs to go to church 4 times in a row in order to qualify to get baptized. If they miss once then we have to start the count over. We are also now supposed to have members present in all of our lessons with investigators, with recent converts, and with less active members. It is going to be more difficult to get baptisms from now on but the baptisms that we do have will be more active. It will also really strengthen the church here to have them be more active in missionary work. I am all for it. We have been doing fairly well with these changes, and we even set a baptisimal date with a young girl named Aleisa. Her family is becoming active in the church again so we committed her (9 years old) to prepare for a baptism. Their are excited about being active again and she is going to be ready.

I am a little sad to hear that Mitt Romney didnt win the election, it sounds like he was really close. Thats cool that Garret is back already! AAAHHH thats awesome that Megan and Kember got mission calls!!!! The new car also looks great.

We are in a hurry so I have to go. I love y´all and I hope everything goes well. I believe that my belt size is 36/90. Thats what it says on the inside anyways. ¡Tengan un buen día!

con amor,

Elder Johns

Puuuure Craziness

An arc that the make for día de los muertos. They put the favorite food of the people who have passed away.

Baptism of Martin. I am with Elder Girot from the MTC.

Some familys that were in my ward.

Hey family!

Its been puuuure craziness this past week. On Wednesday we were doing the daily grind when one of the assistants called my companion and told him that he needed to be in Tampico that night! He and 3 other missionaries from our Zone left for Tampico to have a special training because they are going to be training new missionaries next week. I stayed the night with Elder Girot and the Zone Leader, Elder Castro, and then I did worked the next day with someone named Elder Martinez until my companion returned from Tampico. Then Elder Castro had to go to Tampico so Elder Girot stayed with us all day friday. Then Elder Castro came back and he had a letter for me from Karen! Karen is one of the people that my ocmp and I baptized in my first area. When I had left the area she wasnt super active and her father was also having some problems. I really enjyed recieveing a letter from her and hearing about how they are doing and that they are now clsoer to the church and more active. I also heard that Susanah finally got baptized! She is the wife of Pedro and we taught her a lot after the batism of Pedro and Karen, but in the time I was there she didnt want to get baptized. I also got a letter from my friend Hailey Walton, and one from Tanner Paxman. 

On Saturday, I baptized Martin. Martin was an investigator of Elder Castro and Elder Girot (my MTC companion) and they taught him everything, but when he was asked who he wanted to perform the baptism he asked for me. I only had taught him once on exchanges and I have talked to him a few times when I have seen him at church so I was a little suprised. Apparently that will be the last baptisimal ordinance that I will ever perform here in the mission,according to what I have heard. 

The first friday of every month the President has a council with all of the Zone Leaders in the mission. Apparently the president announced a lot of changes that we will be doing in the mission starting this transfer. One of these is that we, as the missionaries, are not authorized to baptise people so that means that we will be having the members do the baptisms. I have heard some of the other changes but I should be able to read about them tonight (my new comp is a Zone Leader and has the papers from the council meeting). The president has really good reasons for making the changes, the main one being that we have a huge problem of people going less/in active shortly after their baptism. I am 100% for these changes because I know that the Lord is inspiring my mission president to do what is best for the people we are serving through our missionary efforts. 

That leads me to my next announcement, I got transferred! I was really sad when I heard, but I already knew because my companion is oging to be training this next transfer. I reallllllllly wish I could have had just one more cambio in Valles with Elder Beltrán, but I guess the Lord has other plans for me. Guadalupe was really sad to see me go. She bought me a couple ties and she bought a cake that we ate Sunday night. I am really going to miss Valles a lot. I cant believe that I really had served there for three whole months! Time flew by super fast. and guess where my new area is! I am back in my old zone! I am in the zone Ampliación again! I was in this zone before I was transferred to the zone Valles. I am on the other side of the zone from my first area, but I am super close. I am in an area called De Valle 1 with Elder Monforte. Elder Monforte has been a Zone Leader for 3 cambios now and this cambio is his last cambio before he goes home. He seems like a great guy. He is my first companion that has had more than a year before we became companions.

Sorry if everything I have typed is all jumbled and not very organized, my mind is a mess right now because I am in a new area and everything changed really fast. I got to see Elder Rodriguez, my trainer, and Elder Oliveros, my 2nd comp, at the bus station in Tampico. It was really great to see them. I am a little sad to have left Valles behind and I am going to have a lot of challenges ahead of me this next transfer, but I know that I am where the Lord wants me to be and I am going to try my hardest to do what he wants me to do.

I am sorry to hear about Christian McComber! There was an x missionary in Valles that was sent home for health issues as well and he was really sad about it too. It sounds like you all had an enjoyable halloween. Here they do something called Day of the dead. Its the 1st and 2nd of november. They make this arc like things and hang fruit from it and put the favorite foods of the deaceased persons. The kids also trick or treat a little bit but not a lot because its a little dangerous here. That is so awesome that Parker got a mission call! One friend from my ward at byu was called to St. George. I have heard that it is a successful mission. When do Parker and Derek enter theMTC? I am have a little list of the dates that my friends have started the mission and I would like to add them. That is pretty neat that you got a new car. I will really miss the old suburban, we had some good trips in that car.

As far as Christmas ideas, Ireally dont know. Maybe a new belt? my belt is getting worn and my other belt is aready destroyed. I cant really think of anything. Oh, I would love as many different EFY music discs that you can get your hands on, especially the most recent EFY´s. I neeeeed some new music and we are allowed to listen to EFY cds. Ask ryan what some good stuff to send me would be. Money is nice so that I can buy stuff after the mission. mabey another memory card for my camera so that I dont have to worry about running out of space. Oh, and I would love a grand piano if you can fit it in. also a generation pedigree chart of a few generations, apparently I am supposed to have this so I can better explain Family history work. and maybe photos of my friends in their recent adventures.

I hope dad has a great week in San Diego, Mom and Colin and Kaitlyn have  a great tim in Sammamish, Ryan has a good week at BYU, and Keldey has a great time at BYU-I. ¡Nos vemos!

con amor,

Elder Johns

Quadalupe's Baptism!

Baptism of Guadalupe! She is with her daughter, Abril.

Los Micos
Grilling some hamburguesas!

Amados hermanos míos,
This past week went by soooooooo fast. It was a great week because we had Guadalupe´s baptism on Saturday! It was great. Her daughter, Abril, was really excited about it too and wanted to get baptized but she doesnt turn 8 until this next June. I got to perform the ordinance and it felt really good. The water was a little cold though because there wasnt enough gas to get the water heater to work in the morning when we filled it up. Guadalupe was really excited to get baptized and afterwards we went to dominos to eat a little pizza. I´ll attach a photo so you guys can finally see what Guadalupe and Abril look like.
This week was really slow as far as finding new people goes, but we´ll find some people this week. Since Saturday the weather has drastically changed to cloudy and cold. It feels only slightly warmer than Washington during the summertime when it is cloudy and rainy. It feels really wierd to have cooler temperature, I was getting used to a never ending summer.
Today for our P-day, we went to some waterfalls called Los Micos and it was a lot of fun. We had to get permision from the Preisdent, but he said we could do it if we all did it as a Zone and not invite members or investigators. It was a lot of fun, the bus was only $11 pesos to get there and we all pitched in $40 pesos for food. We got a grill and made some hamburgers, they were pretty good. Los Micos was really pretty and the water looked so refreshing but we arent supposed to swim. It was really fun to hang out with the other Elders in my Zone. We have a really good zone. It was also really fun to do something different for once.

For Halloween this Wednesday, I think I´ll take your advice and be a Mormon Missionary. They get the most candy. Thats cool that Kaitlyn got to see Kelsey this weekend. I hope Brooklyn´s wedding goes well today. I bet the Utah symphony was awesome. Im really missing my classical music. I had a dream a few days ago that I had been sent home from the mission for health reasons when I only had 11 months. I was really sad about being home and I was really missing the mission. I hope that doesnt happen. In our ward, an Elder just came home the week before last because of health problems. He is really awesome and he really misses his mission. He already served for 20 months so their not going to let him go back out when hes recovered.
I cant think of much to say and I dont have any more time so I am going to leave it at that. This is week 6 so transfers will be in a week. I think that I will probably get transfered, but I would really like to stay in this area one more transfer with my companion. He is really awesome and we work well together. I hope you all have a great halloween and that you dont get any cavities!
con amor,
Elder Johns

Agua de Coco, Horchata, and a Tithing Pamphlet

Dearest family and friends,
This week went be really fast and really slowly at the same time. I got a nasty cold on Tuesday and its always the worst to get sick because it makes everything a lot harder.
We had a really good lesson with Guadelupe in the beginning of the week. She really enjoyed conference and she was excited about her baptism. We stil need to teach her a couple things so we moved her baptisimal date until the 27 of October. I promised her that I would bring her some of my agua de limón and she said she would get me a coconut because I still hadn´t eaten a cocnut since I came here to Mexico (They are really cheap here). She really liked my water in the next appointment and the coconut she gave me was really good. I made it into agua de coco haha. We left her a pamphlet that talks about tithing to read before our next appointment. That turned out to be not such a good idea. She read the pamphlet and didnt show up to church and when we passsed by for her appointment she expressed that she doesnt know if she can pay tithing (money is pretty tight for her and her family) and we taught and testified a lot. She said she doesnt know if she wants to get baptized anymore so we left a good chapter in the Book of Mormon for her to read and told her to pray about everything. She is a little frusterated becasue there are so many commandments. I am feeling a little stressed out about this.
I made Horchata this week! It was fairly tasty. I also made some agua de jamaica. Have you ever heard of jamaica before? It is a flower that they boil in water here and it makes really tasty water. it is simialer to cranberry juice becasue it cleans you out but it tastes different. I hope I can find jamaica in the states becasue I really like how it tastes.
We had a "round table" meeting with President Jordan and his assistents this week. It was pretty great and I learned a lot about how I can help the people we teach to understand the importnace of doing the committments.
My companion Elder Beltran is from Sonora Mexico. He completed one year in the mission a week and a half ago and he is  great. He knows alot of funny jokes and hes fun to be around. He started listening to the missionaries when he was 16 and then he and his mom were baptized. He is now 21 years old. His accent is a little strange, and its kinda funny to notice that my accent is changing to be more like his since we are together all of the time. This is his first exchange as a district leader and he is doing a good job.
Thats about all I can think of to type. Dad was pretty lucky to get out of having to be at teh case doing jury duty for so long. How old do you have to be before you can do jury duty? Ill have to remember to be really technical if I ever get summoned. Colins birthday party sounds like it was great. Is he going to get his first license soon or go on his first date? Minecraft is pretty fun, I played it a little bit when I was going to college. I dont think there are seasons here. I have noticed that it has gotten slightly cooler, but that doesnt maek much of a difference when it is still super hot. I guess the only thing I have noticed as far as the passage of seasons is that they have stopped selling mangos :( but that just means that I can save up my money until mango season and eat pure mangos until the season ends again. I got the Halloween package this week when the president came for the round table thing! thanks sooooo much! I love chocolate and american candy. They dont really have alot of chocolate here and the candy isnt very good. I will think of some ideas for the christmas package. I usually dont spend any of my personal money. I havent needed to use personal money to buy food or anything. I have only used it for buying weights, speakers, and I htink thats it.
I love yall and have a great week!
con amore,
Elder Johns


This week flew by super fast! I got to do 2 different exchanges. Another exchange with Elder Girot, and an exchange with Elder Salazar. They are both pretty great and I enjoyed having the chance to work with them and learn from them. When I was with Elder Girot in his area we did a ton of walking, mostly because the appointments alternated between the furthest points in his area. When it got dark, we were walking through a field when I saw a brief flash of light trail through the air. Then I saw another, and another, and then quite a few. I then realized that they were fireflies! I dont know if Im just not very smart, but I have always thought that fireflies were just made up and that they sounded really cool but it just couldnt exist because I have never seen any  before. It was pretty awesome to see some and realize that they do in fact  exist haha.
I started making different types of "aguas" this week. First I made agua de piña (pineapple) and that was super good. Then I made agua de melón (cantelope) and that was also super good. Then I made some more agua de melón but I but some milk in it and that was really really good! I also made some agua de limón last night that was pretty tasty. So far I like agua de melón with milk the most becasue it is easier to maek than the other aguas and it tastes the best. This next week I am going to try agua de horchata and agua de jamaica.
Guadelupe is doing well, we didnt have her interview this saturday becasue we still have to teach her some commandments, but we are planning on having her interveiw this next saturday and her baptism the following saturday. She came to one of the conference sessions and she really liked it so that was cool.
We dont really have any other investigators that are progressing super well, but we have some potentials that should start to progress a little faster this week if everything goes according to plan.
My comp completed one year in the mission last friday! I now finally have a companion who has more than a year in the mission. We didnt have any time to do something to celebrate, but we are going to go and get hamburgers for dinner sometime this week.
conference was awesome! I got to watch all of it in English with the other english elders (there are 4 of us in our Zone) and that was a lot of fun. That is so crazy that the age was changed to 18 for men and 19 for women! That means that alot of my friends could leave on their missions right now! Did you mean to type Megan Carpenter that has definately decided to serve a mission? Thats really cool. Keep me posted on mission calls of my friends or people I know. A large majority of the natives in my mission left for their missions around the age of 18, usually about 6 months after they turned 18. All of my companions have been about my age or older though.
Happy birthday COlin! that is so exciting that his birthday is this week! I really hope it goes well and that he gets his liscnece soon. Dont let him date until he gets home from his mission.
I am glad ot hear that you are all doing so well. Thank you for the pictures, I really enjoy getting pictures of you guys. Ill try and send some this next week. I love you all and I hope you have a great week!
con amor,
Elder Johns

Friday, October 5, 2012

Elder Beltran is super awesome!

My new companion Elder Beltran! He is super awesome!

Happy October!
Hey hey hey! Another week flew by super duper fast! My new companion arrived last monday and his name is Elder Beltran! He is super awesome and we have had an absolutely wonderful time together this past week. He will have a year in the mission this friday! He is also from the same generation of missionarys as my trainer which is kinda cool. At night we were wondering who we were supposed to call to check in (we have to call the District Leader every night once we get to the house) becasue the District Leader left the zone. We called the Zone Leader and to my companions suprise, he was the new District Leader! It is kinda cool to have a District Leader as a companion because I can see all the stuff he has to do and it is good preparation if I  ever will be a District LEader someday. It looks like a lot of work. This week he is going to be doing a lot of exchanges with our District of 3 other companionships so that means I will be doing a lot of exchanges as well.
We have been working pretty hard this week and we found 7 new investigators! we had the goal of 5 and we had been contacting forever and tons of appointments kept falling through, but in our last appointment Sunday night we found 4 new investigators that are all interested in learning more about the church!
Guadelupe is progressing well. We taught her about keeping the Sabbath Day holy last week and she understood it and wanted to do her best to obey it which I thought was awesome. We want to have her baptisimal interview this Saturday, but seh still doesnt have a very firm testimony of the Book of Mormon because we havent been able to get her to pray about it or read very much in it. We are going to be focusing on that this week.
Unfortunately we didnt get to see Dulce this week becasue conflicts kept coming up for her during the times of our appointments.
I think I already told you about how everyone makes delicious fruit drinks here that are fresh. I bought some limes, sugar, and cantelope to practice making my very own agua de limón and agua de melón. I´ll let you know how it goes.
I would very much love to hug and kiss you too mom but that time is just around the corner. I just completed nine months on the mission last friday and time feels like it is flying by. Ever since I got 6 months in the mission time has just kept accelerating. It is so crazy to think that it was a whole year ago that I went to the temple for the first time.
I love you all and I wish you success in your current endevours. ¡Tengan una buena semana y nos vemos el próximo lunes!
con amor,
Elder Johns

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Another fast week!

Elder Johns and Elder Girot

¡Hola familia!
Hey! its been another really fast weeek! This week was nuts! We had exchanges with the District leader and teh Zone LEader. I got to be on ANOTHER exchange wiht Elder Girot because he is currently the ZL's comp. Elder Girot is my comp from the MTC that I was a little worried about, and it is always fun to go on exchanges with him becasue I can see how much he is growing. He is a lot stronger than I thought from the MTC. I also got to go on  an exchange with Elder Olsen, he only has about 4 months in the mission so his Spanish isnt the best, but he really knows how to teach. Being with himn reminded me alot of how I used to be when I had just left the MTC, I really have grown and learned a lot, but I still need to learn and grow alot.
Guadelupe is really progressing well! she really likes the Plan of Salvation and how she can be withher family for the eternitys. She committed to be baptized on teh 13th of OCT and I am really excited. She even cried a little when she was saying the closing prayer. Dulce is progressing, but slowly. She knows the church is true but she just has a fear that she cant describe concerning getting baptized.  We will figure it out here soon.
Pres also said to me that he was going to have me train this new exchange, but because there were problems with visas, not all of the new missionaries came so he ended up not having me train. When he told me that I was shocked. I dont feel ready to train haha! That would have been nuts if I had been a trainer this next exchange. I guess we will see what will happen.
Sorry this letter is badly typed and a little messy, I dont ahve alot of time and I am writing really fast.  Sounds like it was a fun bikeride! I remember that tunnel, it was really creepy and it felt really wierd to be in it becasue it was so dark. happy anniversary mom and dad!
I love you alll alot and I hope you have a great week!

con amor,
Elder Johns

¡Soy Mexicano!

 ¡Soy Mexicano!

There were tons of people at the stake event for Sep. 15th!
Hey Hey Hey!

This week flew by really fast! It is hard to believe that it is already the last week of the transfer, I feel like I just left my first area not that long ago, but ive already been here for 5 weeks!

In our last District meeting I planned and directed it and it was kinda fun. We practiced How to Start Teaching. It reminded me a little bit of the MTC because I had to plan our District Meetings when I was the District Leader.

We were passing by where Dulce lives early this week and there she was! It turns out thatshe wasnt able to get enough money to make the trip and so she is going to be staying her indefinately until she figures out what she is going to do. It is a little sad because it means she wasnt able to get her pension,but it also means that we have the opportunity to keep teaching her. She is progressing but fairly slowly. We set the date of her baptism for the 22nd of September, but she still isnt at the point where she is really converted and keeps making small excuses. She is really great and I am sure that as we can help her to grow her faith in Jesus Christ she will be more ready.

We did exchanges this week which is when the District Leader does a swap with one of us. He came here to our area and Elder Soto, my companion, went to the District Leaders area. It was kinda fun to be with the District Leader in my area because I got to be more in charge and it was a good test to see if I really knew the area or not. afterwards we got together and went to a nice taco stand and I ate the most delicious taco, and it was only $14!!! I had to get two.

The 15th of September is Mexican Independance day which is alot like our 4th of July. The ward had a large stake activity on Friday night with dancing and singing and alot of foodto celeberate. Tamales are pretty popular here. A tamale is like a little burrito but you make it by putting corn stuff around whatever type of tamale you want to make (you can put vegetables, different meats, and chiles) and you fold it in a corn husk or in a banana leaf and heat it up for a long time. They are fairly good, but it depends alot on what type it is. But yeah there were tons of people and Guadelupe came! It was really great to see her there becasue it was a really good atmosphere for her to get to know some of the members better. Then on Saturday, the actual 15th of September, we had to return to our apartment at 7:30 because aparrently there is a lot of drinking that goes on. To celebrate, the people do lots of partys and we heard about a fireworks show somewhere. and at 11:00 everyone was supposed to shout ¡Viva Mexico! We went to bed at 10:30, but the fireworks in the distance woke me up at 11 so I did a little Mexican shout, but not loud enough to wake up my companion.

It has been an interesting week. We still havent been seeing alot of progression with our investigators. They are progressing but very slowly. My companion has been having a really hard time this past week as well. He is really feeling stressed out that we havent been having a ton of success with our investigators and he has been here for almost 4.5 months and he is ready to leave. If you could maybe mention him in your prayers tonight that he will be able to feel a little happier it would be much appreciated.

Sounds like Abby had a splendid birthday! That MOD pizza place sounds pretty delicious. I am also glad that Kelsey is enjoying college but she didnt reply to my email so hopefully she will soon. Is Kaitlyn getting my emails? I have been sending some to her but she doesnt respond so I dont know if they are appearing in her junk or if she just never checks (I have been sending them to kaitlynjohns(at)hotmail.com).

That is so awesome that you guys are getting involved in la obra misional! (missionary work)
Members have a really important role in helping investigators feel welcome in the church and become a part of the social aspect of the church so that they can have  help reamining active after baptism.

Well this is the last week of the exchange which is always the most difficult. I hope you all have a wonderful week and that you are all reading your scriptures!

con amor,

Elder Johns

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No Stairway to Heaven


I dont feel like I have much to write about for this week. Everything has been going good with Dulce and we thought for sure she would pass the interveiw, but when we had her baptisimal interview on Saturday she didnt pass  because she said that she still wasnt sure that she wanted to get baptized. We are going to keep working with her to help her with the doubts she hasnt shared with us yet.

Things have been going pretty well with an investigator that we found last week. She still hasnt read the Book of Mormon,  but she came to church with her mother and her daughter. Her daughter, Abril, really really liked church, especially the second hour when she was with the other kids (she is 7 years old). Apparently her mother was baptized in the 1950´s or something, but became less-active fairly soon afterwards. This investigator, Guadelupe, has a baptisimal date for the 22 so we are really excited that she came to church this week.

I have been trying to learn some hynms on the guitar (haha Im staying away from Led Zeppelin). I am trying to make a cool instrumental guitar rendition of Called to Serve. That is so crazy that Jeff Walton is back! I really wish I could talk to him or see him, I bet that he has changed a lot. This week both Colin Spear and Zander Sawyer are going to be entering the MTC! I am really excited for them.

That is awesome that Kelsey is starting College! She will love it. All of my friends that went to BYU-I really enjoyed it. I hope Colins first week at Eastlake goes well for him and that he has lots of friends in his classes.

Sorry this email was kinda short, this past week was kinda slow and it is hard for me to think of stuff to say about it. I am really happy that everything is going well for all of you and that life is exciting. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

con amor,

Elder Johns

Baptisms in Valles!

One of the members made a Piñata sized Elder Soto!

Mi compañero, Elder Soto, y yo.

Alan and Esteban!
Hey Hey Hey!

This past week was pretty great! On Saturday night we had the baptism of Alan and his brother Esteban! It was pretty crazy getting the baptisimal service planned out during the week, but it went well, besides starting a little late. The baptisimal service also included an 8 year old from our ward and a baptism of some other Elders from a different ward, so there were 4 people in total who got baptized. The room was packed! It was really great. Altough I do not really know Alan or Esteban really well, I really love them and I am so happy that they have decided to take this step in their lives. The church has really changed them. Just like 5 months ago they were rather rebellious. They came to know the church because their mother had a friend of hers invite Alan and Esteban to church so that they could learn to be a little less rebellious. And now they have really changed, they have had a true change of heart and are ready to follow the example of Christ until the end of their lives.

I think I mentioned Dulce in my last email. She is progressing really well and is really excited about the gospel. We set a baptisimal date with her for the 8th of September! She went to the baptism of Alan and Esteban and to church on Sunday. She is really prepared and I am so glad to have the opportunity of teaching her.

Thursday morning we had a Zone Conference. It was fairly good, I learned alot and I really felt like the spirit taught me what I need to do to become a better missionary. It was the first zone conference that we have had with President Jordan. They are still learning everything and I am truly amazed at their ability to handle all of the challenges and tasks being thrown at them. I would think twice before I accepted to be a Mission President in Mexico.

After I sent my last email, I decided that I wanted to buy a guitar for my birthday, so we found a nice music store and I found a wonderful acoustic guitar for a fairly good price. I also got a really cool tuner that clips on to the end of the guitar where the strings are and it measures the vibrations of the strings to tune and it is super fast and easy. The first 3 strings are nylon instead of metal, but it is a really good guitar for teh price I found it at. It is black and slick, I´ll take a picture this week and send it next time. It has been a great help for me to feel a little more relaxed and not so uptight all the time. I am learning hymns and it is really fun. I am thinking that I will be able to use it during baptisimal services.

We got together as a District Saturday morning and helped somone move in another ward. It was kinda fun to help someone move, I feel like I did that a lot back home and it has been a while since I have gotten to do it. Afterwards the sister cooked us some delicious meat. 

Apparently, a disease went around that killed a ton of the chickens that were used for laying eggs so the price of eggs has gone up to a ridiculous price when it used to be at a very cheap price so that families with very little money would buy a lot of eggs for their protein. I bought a bunch a little while ago before the prices shot up, but they might be my last eggs for a while.

I remember going to go and see the wrecked ship in Orgeon when I was little! That was a really long time ago. I also remember how beautiful Sea Side Orgeon is. Ryan and I went there I think for cross country to run a course when I was in 9th grade. I have heard of the famous maple bars with bacon from Portland! I have never eaten one before, but I would like to try one some day. That is great that Jeff Walton is back! and James Salmon is leaving this Wednesday, Maybe he´ll run into Tucker and Carlin. 

I really love you all and I am so glad that you all had a great vacation in Orgeon. I will have 8 months in the mission tomorrow, which seems to me to be so little, but it is a third of the mission which seems crazy. I hope you all have a great last week of the best month of them all, and that you can all get through the crazy transition from lazy summer days to the tiring grind of studies. ¡hasta luego!

con amor,

Elder Johns

First Week in Valles


So I just had my first week in my second area! It is really something to suddenly leave everything in an instant and be thrust into a new place and not know anything, it reminds me a little bit of when I first came to Mexico. I dont know the area super well yet, but now I have met our investigators and some of the members.

We have two investigators named Alan and Esteban. We finished teaching them the commandments this week and they had their baptisimal interview. They are going to get baptized this week! I dont really know them super well but I am so excited for them. They really love the church. Alan is 15 and Esteban is 13. Alan went to EFY and he really enjoyed it and now he says he wants to be a missionary. They both really enjoy the church and the youth programs, and are already making friends in the church.

We have another investigator named Dulce. She is a little older and she knows a lot about the Bible. She really likes the Book of Mormon, but we have had a difficult time getting her to pray and ask our Heavenly Father if it is true or not. We ended up having her do the prayer during on of our visits and she said that she felt good and wanted to keep listening to us. 

We have a number of other investigators but things are still a little crazy and I dont remember a whole lot.

This are is very different from my last area. We have the "centro" in our area which is where all of the large stores are. It is always really busy and there are tons of people. Our area is also very large though so we have other areas where it is just houses and there arent many people. It smells absolutely wonderful here! In my last area there was a Pemex (petrolium processing plant) near our house and it was constantly pumping out pollution but here the air feels super clean in comparison. Our apartment is also a lot nicer than it was in my last area. We have an air conditioning unit in our room!!!!!!! It is so strange to get cold, we turn it on blast during the night and the room gets freezing. The apartment was a little messy when I got here but I have fixed it up a bit. It also doesnt feel as hot here as it did in Madero. It is a lot less humid here, but my companion also tells me that this is the time of year where it is a little cooler than what it is like during May through July.

My companion, Elder Soto, is really great. he really knows his stuff when it comes to teaching and he is really good with the investigators. He also speaks really good english because he lived in Las Vegas for 2 years. We get along well.

I gave a talk last sunday about missionary work. They called us in the morning so I didnt really have any time to prepare so I just gave a generic talk but I think it went well.

Taking care of all those kids sounds pretty fun. I bet you are pretty excited to see Ryan in Portland. He is probably headed off to BYU for school pretty soon.

I love you all and I hope you are all enjoying your last weeks of August!

con amor,

Elder Johns

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pizza Pringles and Then a Transfer


 Waiting with some Elders in the bus station in Valles

Hey everyone!
Well I have a bunch to write but basically no time at all. I had a great birthday yesterday, I actually got the package on Saturday so I had presents! and my world got blown away when I saw that I had THREE cans of PIZZA PRINGLES!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for the treats, letters, and toy thing. Also thank you very much for the money that was deposited in my account from Grandpa and you guys. It was a little strange having my birthday during the mission, and the package really helped me to feel loved. Alot of the members told me happy birthday during church and that was also nice. I didnt get any cakes because the refigerator of the members who were going to make me a cake broke, but someone we taught gave me a mango! Thank you toeveryone that sent me happy birthday wishes, I feel your love and I am very apreciative of your support!
I got transferred to a new area today!!! They told me last night so I packed up all my stuff today, said goodbye to a few people, and went to the bus station where I took a bus for a couple hours to my new area. I dont remember what my new area is called, but we are in a city that is named Valles. It is known for being the hottest place in the mission, but I hear that we just passed to hottest time of the year and it should be a little cooler from here on out. My companion is named Elder Soto and he told me he has more than a year on the mission.
It is very strange to leave an area that I have been in for 4.5 months and be suddenly thrust into a new area with a new companion. I feel just a little overwhelmed at the moment, but I am grateful for the opportunity to grow. It is also pretty exciting to be in a new area.
It sounds like everything is going well for you guys. Thats crazy that James will be leaving so soon.
I have to go now but I love you all so much and I miss ya´ll like the dickens!
con amor,
Elder Johns

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Buzzcut and a Birthday

We dont have grills here so we use what ever we can find. This is Hermano Cruz cooking us some delicious carne asada.

A member had a white rabbit lying around. It had evil red eyes.

This is our Zone. La Zona Ampliación.

I borrowed the guitar from a kid that lives below us. It felt real good to strum some chords.

¡Buenas Tardes!
Hey! its been (almost) another week! I got a buzz cut on accident on our P-day last week after we wrote emails. It looks even worse in real life than it does in the pictures haha. I mistakenly asked for size 1 on the sides and size 1.5 on the top, and I found out that means that you almost dont have any hair afterwards. I have always wanted to get a buzz cut becasue James would always get buzz cuts but I never had the guts. Now that I know what its like Im never going to do it again. I feel a little cooler though which was nice because this past week was especially hot.
I dont really have anything positive to say about our investigators, we are going to be starting with a clean slate.
We have been working with some menos activos (less-active) this past week. We met once with Hermana Gloriah and she brought her son to church yesterday! Her son went to EFY 2 weeks ago (it was the first time they have had an EFY here in this area and alot of menos activos youth) and he even brought a friend along to EFY. He also brought his friend to church and we met him and have an appointment to teach him in the house of the member. He is really interested in learning because he really enjoyed EFY.
I dont really know what else to say, the last part of this past week was really tough but now Im through it.
Only 6 days until my birthday! I am pretty excited. I am going to be 20! I only have 6 days left of my teenage years, but I already feel like an adult. I told some members and an hermana is going to make me some delicious mole (chicken with a sauce that is soooooo delicous, kinda chocolaty but not very sweet and a little spicy) and some guacamole. And her daughter is going to make me a cake! Yeah they have cakes here, and they are probably better on average here becasue Mexico is crazy about their pan (bread).
On our p-days we usually get about an hour of free time after all is done, and I usually write letters as my way to relax. I just got a new shipment of mail so Im going to be busy. The cambio is almost over, it ends on teh 13th. I have a feeling that I am going to be going to a new area since ive been here for 4.5 months and this is my first area.
I dont have any more time to write but it sounds like you all hada great time in Idaho and Utah. Have you all done any othre trips this summer?
I love yall and I hope yall have a great week!
Elder Johns

Missing the MTC and hamburgers

I also forgot to mention, but Aide went out with us for a day to our appointments. We were pretty suprised that she wanted to go with us especially becasue she is pretty shy, but she told us she wanted to see what we do all day.

I helped to clean the tail end of a micro (bus).
Hey Hey family!
Sorry this ones a few days late, we wanted to go to the temple this week so we changes our preparation day to Wednesday, but then we found out that the Temple is closed until the 13! I guess they announced it during sacrament meeting, but I was busy explaining to Ernesto who the people are that sit up infront of the congregation and my companion didnt hear.
We had interviews with President Jordan on Tuesday last week! It was awesome getting to meet him and talk with him. He really gave me some good advice to help me to rise to the next level and I could really feel the love that he has for each one of us. He is a little more calm than President Call was but he leaves an immpression just as powerful. I really enjoyed it. So far he hasnt made any big changes, just that we are going to start setting goals monthly instead of for the cambio (4 weeks instead of 6 weeks).
Apparently the area Seventies of Mexico have selected our mission, along with some other missions in mexico, to try a different approach to do missionary work. Now, instead of contacting from dawn until dusk, we are supposed to work almost strictly with members and less active/inactive members. We are supposed to teach all the lessons to menos activos and encourage them to become active again, and also to invite others to come listen to us. And with the active members we are supposed to teach them the restoration and get them to invite friends to listen to us either in the house of the member or in the chapel. There are supposedly 500 inactive members in our area so I think we are going to be pretty busy (really there are probably less because people move alot, but we have also found inactive members that have moved here that arent in our records). I am really excited to try out this out.
Last week we watched the Joseph Smith movie with Karina and her family to help them to understand a little more about prophets. Things have been going pretty well with them. They havent been doing super well with reading or going to church, but we had a good talk with them this week when we taught them the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. They all drink alot of coffee, but Karina said that she was going to stop buying it in order to follow the Word of Wisdom. Aide doesnt really want to give up coffee, but she will come around. Unfortunately we have a little problem with the Law of Chastity for Rosa becasue her boyfriend lives with her, but right now he is working for the navy and wont get back until September. She doesnt know what she wants to do yet, but she cant talk to him until September.
Ernesto was our only investigator that came to church this week, but he seemed to enjoy it but it went a little long (1 hour and 45 minutes!) because the Bishop had the youth bear their testimonies becasue they all went to the very first EFY for this area. He only stayed for sacrament meeting before he had to go. He hasnt been there when we have passed by this week so we dont really know whats going on with him.
We started teaching a a bunch of kids last week. it was a referral from a member, and basically the mother wants us to teach her kids about church stuff so that they will have a love of god and be better people. We are also teaching her, but we focus on the kids. It reminds me alot of my old job working with kids at the YMCA pool. They dont pay attention very well so you have to teach differently and its kinda nice to have a change and be forced to teach more simply.
Things have been pretty much the same with my new companion. Its interesting to live with another person from another culture, but it requires a little more patience sometimes. We get along well and I am really happy becasue of that. I cant believe that we have already been together for over a month! July flew by so fast. and now my birthday is less than 2 weeks away!
Thats great that Carlin is heading out soon, he will be there at the MTC at the same time as Tucker! I really miss the MTC. It was really hard for me at first but it gets easier. Would you please send me Tucker´s Mailing address for the MTC? I wanna send him some encouragement and maybe I can give him som good advice that could help him out.
Those hamburgers look absolutely delicious. I havent had a good hamburger in forever. I hope Colin is having a good time at EFY right now and is learning how to chat it up with the ladies.
I cant really think of anything else to say, so I love you all and I hope you enjoy the best month of the year! (its the best because it has my birthday)
con amor,
Elder Johns

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Challenges of Missionary Work

Dear family,
This past week was pretty good. I had another companion exchange with Elder Girot on Tuesday which is always fun. A member of our ward who is leaving on a mission in a couple months worked with us for a couple hours and it was fun because he lived in Utah for 3 years and speaks perfect English. Most of our citas fell through but we taught about the restoration to a 19 year old girl and her little brother who are very devout catholics. It was an interesting lesson, they told us they would read the Book of Mormon and pray. We are going to see them tomorrow to see how it went. Sadly, Elder Girot, my dear MTC companion, suddenly was transferred away from me on Friday to the Valles Zone which is the hottest place in the mission. I am probably not going to see him for a long time but I am grateful that weve been close for the past 6.5 months. He is a good friend.
We didnt really see a whole lot of success this week. We have just had terrible luck this month. We dont have any problems filling our days with appointments, but when we pass by for the appointment they either arent there or they are busy/dont want to listen to us anymore. Even our investigator with a baptisimal date was only there 1 out of the 4 times we passed by this week.
We set a baptisimal date with a guy named Ernesto. He seems like a good guy but I dont really know him really well yet. We also got to talk to Karina, Aide, and Rosa all together this week and we reviewed Lesson 1 to help her understand the role of prophets and why we need them.
We set a date with Susanah finally, but she eventually told us that she didnt want to be pressured into it. I dont know why she doesnt want to progress more and join the rest of her family. She goes to church every sunday and she is basically a member.
Sounds like you all had a fantastic week! Colin sent me an email about his high adventure and it sounds like it was a blast. The work party also sounds like it was pretty fun. I am sending some photos from my camera that I havent sent. Mom can choose one of them and Ill try and get a good one this week. There hasnt really been many occasions to take photos. If you havent already sent the package I decided I could really use some of that bisckoff cookie peanut butter stuff if there is room, it was super delicious in the last package.
I love you all very much and I hope that you have a fantastic week!
con amor,
Elder Johns

The End of the Mango Fast

The end of the mango fast!

Mis queridos familiares y amigos,
Its been another week down here in Mexico! This week feels like it went by fast, I feel like its only been a day or two since I was last here at this internet cafe writing the last email. Its been a rainy week. When I first got here, I literally thought the heat and humidity would kill me. I got used to it though and it didnt really bug me at all. This past week, however, it has been cloudy and rainy. For the first time in forever I wasnt wet because of sweat, but I was still wet from rain haha. And then when I took a shower, the water was really cold because the sun hadnt heated it up outside. I was COLD!!!!!!!! It was such an alien and strange feeling. I didnt really like it to be honest but it felt nice to remember what it feels like to be cold haha.
I have had a mango fast for the past few weeks because we havent gone anywhere to buy good mangos. However, this past week I was blessed with mangos! Different members gave us mangos randomly and it was a very nice treat. We also went to a store that sells good mangos (bad mangos are mangos that are too ripe and mushy with black spots and cuts) so now I have a ton of mangos and life is goooood.
We didnt have a lot of success this week despite how hard we worked. It was pretty frusterating because people wouldnt be there for the appointments we had set or would be busy. We got a text from Karina on Wednesday that she didnt really want to meet with us anymore, but she didnt answer her phone when we called her. When we did eventually find her in her house we talked to her for a bit. She said that we believe in Prophets like she believes in the Saints and that she didnt understand the Book of Mormon at all. We talked to her for a while to explain and testified (and I even cried a little bit) and she agreed to continue meeting with us. This whole episode was very sudden and unexpected. From the experiences that we have had with her I thought for sure she had a testimony of the Restoration and that everything was going fine.
Our other investigator who has a baptisimal date was still asleep when we passed by to pick her up so that was kind of dissapointing. Pedro blessed the sacrament in Sacrament meeting! He had to start over a couple times but he did well. I am pretty happy with how much the members have been doing to help him and support him. The members here are pretty great. Its not like church back home, but they are trying their best. We dont really get a whole lot of referrals from the members, but we are starting to work more with the members who have spouses who arent members. We are also going to start trying harder to get members to come to lessons with us so that they have a friend when they come to church and it wont feel so foreign. We eat with members at 2pm for the main meal everyday besides Monday and Friday. Monday is our day of preparation so we dont have time to go to a members to eat, and friday is our food by faith day. It is something that President Call started a little before he left. We tell the members to not schedule a meal on friday so that we can have a chance to eat with less actives and investigators. We ended up not getting invited by anyone to eat this past friday, but we found a new investigator in the time we would have been eating so maybe thats how God wanted it to be.
I still dont have a picture of my new companion sorry! I keep forgetting. He is great and we work well together. He only has a month and 12 days more than me on the mission so we arent the best teachers, but we are working hard at improving. I dont really know why every companion I have had has had less than 8 months on the mission. It would be nice to have a companion who has like a year and a half of experience so they can teach me how to teach really well. Nevertheless I am still learning a lot from Elder Oliveros and we are having a great time together.
I hope Colin has a great time on his High Adventure! I really miss those, they were always so much fun. The camping even prepared me a bit for Mexico (because there are bugs everywhere). I am glad that work is going well for dad, and  I hope Abby starts to behave herself better. I am sooooo excited for Tucker! That is pretty cool that Natalie is leaving this week too. I hope everything goes well for everyone this week! I hope you enjoy the picture of the mango I sent. ¡Hasta luego!
con amor,
Elder Johns