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

Crocodiles in the Streets?

Mi Querido Familia,
Had another good week down here in México! It has been unusally cloudy this past week. Unusual for here means that there have happened to be the occasional cloud or two that pass over the sun giving us some delicous shade. In the night time it has rained a couple times making it a little cooler in the morning so it has been a little strange to wake up to less than furnace temperatures. I have heard alot of stories about the rain these past couple weeks. Starting this month, and covering the next couple months, is the rainy season. There are a couple lagoons in our area that the locals claim contain crocodiles and large snakes. I have yet to see one, but I might get to because the locals say that when it rains non stop for a couple days there is waste deep water in the streets and crocodiles leave the lagoon and swim around town. I am not so sure I believe them about the crocodiles (they exaggerate alot here) but I believe them about the water level raising to be ridiculously high. When it rains for only a couple hours alot of streets become unpassable unless you want walk through knee deep or deeper water. However I will make sure that I will keep my eyes out for crocodiles if the water is really high, but then we probably wouldnt be out in the streets preaching if we cant get anywhere becasue the streets are so flooded.
I have had much opportunity to practice my self control in maintaining a positive attitude and an eternal perspective this past week for various reasons. I have found that it is quite wonderful to have a positive attitude and an eternal perspective during hard times and that I am getting alot better at maintaining the two during hard times. The mission is great for becoming the person you want to be.
Our list of investigators kinda got shortened this week because some either werent interested, spouses didnt want them to study with us, or they just didnt really want to keep the commandments. We set a baptisimal date with Ricardo (the Nephew of Pedro) and he has been progressing well but he told us that he is going to move to Monterrey for a couple months to work. We also only found one new investigator for the entire week. Despite these tragedies, it was a great week because we made good progress with the investigators that we have.
Our new investigator, Kassandra, is really smart and she really has a sincere desire to come to know if they church is true. We set a baptisimal date for her on the 28th of July and she is progressing well.
I dont remember if I told you about Karina, Rosa, and Aide last week. We have been meeting with Karina for about 2 months now and she has been making really good progress in the past 3 weeks. We showed up for an appointment last week but she wasnt there. Her daughters Aide and Rosa were there and so we ended up teaching them about the Plan of Salvation. We committed them to getting baptized on the 28th (the same date as their mom Karina) and they said yes! This week we got to teach them all together for the first time and it was great. They even came to church on Sunday and they seemed to like it!
I didnt realize it was the 4th of July until we had gotten home and started planning for the next day! It made me a little home sick becasue I have a lot of great 4th of July memories. I ate some Zucaritas (frosted flakes) to celebrate. I have learned the area. I was really worried at first that I wouldnt know where the members lived or how to get around, but we got a map from the offices and have been able to survive. Your 4th of July sounds like it was pretty fun. Oh now that I think about it I saw some fireworks that some kids set off before I realized it was the 4th of July and I didnt know whay there was fireworks.
I need to go but I love you all and I hope you have a fantastic week!
con amor,
Elder Johns

Monday, July 2, 2012

New companion: Elder Oliveros

Hey hey hey!
What a great week! I got my new companioin on Tuesday and his name is Elder Oliveros. He is from Acapulca which is in a different part of Mexico but very simialer to here because it is also near the beach. He only has 7 months on the mission (I just barely finished my 6th month) but he was only in the MTC for 3 weeks (missionaries are only in the MTC for 3 weeks if they are not learning a language) and so he has more field expeience. He is really great, we get along really well and we work hard together.
We met the new president on Thursday! His name is President Jordan and he seems like a great guy. We got together with two other zones and he introduced himself to us a little. It will be very interesting for me to see them grow into their callings.
We have had much more success this week than usual. We have been finding a lot more new investigators, and a few inactive members. We stopped by Karina´s house but she wasnt there this week, but we ended up teaching the Plan of Salvation to her two daughters Ayde and Rosa. We also put a baptisimal date for them on the 28th which is the same date as their mother. That was pretty great and I really would love to see them get baptized together as a family. Karina has an eleven year old son but he is always off playing so we havent really talked to him.
We have been working with Andrea and Carlos to get them prepared for their baptisimal date on the 14th, but they both didnt show up to church which means we have to set their dates back again. It has been pretty tough to get our investigators to come to church. Maybe becasue its 9 in the morning. Or maybe because it rained really hard Sunday morning. We are going to work harder to get our investigators to church because it is so important for them to go and make friends with the members and to feel the Spirit there. There is also a requirment that they got at least 2 times to church before they can get baptized, but we avoid telling them that because we dont want them to go only twice just to get baptized and then not go again.
I dont know if I told you about Mario, but we taught him last week in the house of a member. He wants to get baptized and married in the temple with the member, but he wants to know if it is all true first. He is pretty great, but we discovered that they are living together and are both in the process of divorce and the divorce of his girlfriend is going to take a long time.
Pedro got the Arronic Priesthood on Sunday!!!! He is doing so awesome and he is going to bless the sacrament next Sunday! I was so happy to see him get the Priesthood because we had some problems a few weeks after his baptism, but now he is back on the right track! After sacrament meeting we take all the recent converts and investigators and take them to a class taught by the ward mission leader and the ward missionaries. None of them showed up this Sunday so I got to teach the class about prayer. It was pretty fun to get to teach and have a white board and everything. Pedro brought his nephew, Ricardo, to church. Ricardo wants to change like Pedro did and stop drinking. We taught him later that Sunday and he seems like he sincerely wants to change so that is great.
Sunday night just an hour before we were supposed to head back to the apartment it rained. It rained hard. Luckily we were teaching Orquidea (one of our baptisms form my first transfer) and so we got to stay inside for a bit, but when we had to leave we got soaked. All of the streets were submerged almost, and luckily we passed by a members house who offered to drive us to our apartment. our apartment wasnt far away, the problem was that we could only get to it by either walking through waist deep water or walking really far. Luckily the car didnt flood.
I have to go but I love you all so much and I am glad that things are going well for all of you. Im sorry that Abby has been a handful lately. Dad should try playing the piano for her sometime when shes in a bad mood and maybe it would calm her down.
¡Tenga una buena semana!
con amor,
Elder Johns

Miss you all like the dickens!

Mi querido familia,
This past week was great! on Monday night we went to go and teach one of our less active members and his 11 year old sister joined us and told us she wants to get baptized! She is really great and her date is the 7th of July
We also finally found one investigator in their house after about two weeks of not seeing them. We had set a date with her but then she wasnt home for the next appointment and wasnt ever home when we called or passed by for two weeks. But we found her! She said she had been reading and praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true and she felt good about it. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and talked about baptisms for the dead. Then during the next appointment she told us that she had a dream where her father was unhappy and wanted her to do the work for him. She was really emotional about it and she said it was her answer that the Church is true and she set a date for the 28th of July because she works a lot and says she is going to quit work on the 21st. She has a lot of faith and is really great.
We also set a date with another investigator named Carlos. He is really great and has been reading the Book of Mormon. He seems happier and happier everytime we come back to teach him so I know that the Gospel is really helping him. We havent got his family to listen yet but they will eventually.
My companion is changing! Elder Rodriguez is transferring to la Ciudad de Victoria and thats about two hours away. I am getting a new companion later today named Elder Oliveros. I dont know anything about him yet but I heard that he probably has about a month longer than me on his mission and he is from Mexico. I am going to miss Elder Rodriguez (I think). And finally I am not being trained anymore! I still have a TON to learn about everything but I know I can do it. I feel like I dont know the area very well so it will be interesting finding the members houses for our lunches.
That is awesome that Kaitlyn and Kelsey graduated! Feels like I just did that a couple months ago and then left for BYU the next day. Colin is looking fresh without his braces.
Ok some birthday items... first thing: our President told us to write home for our parents to send us our 3-generation pedigree charts if we didnt bring them and I dont have mine so if you would be so kind as to include that in the package that would be fantastic. Maybe you could even print off a story or two about some of the people in the chart or of interesting anscetors that we have. Some candy and sugarfree gum would also be very much appreciated. I cant really think of anything else so maybe you could just put some money in my account.
I love you all and I miss you all like the dickens! Adios!
con amor,
Elder Johns