Monday, January 27, 2014

Week 4 in Arkansas...water bottles, grace and baptisms

Another week has gone by, it seems like I was just writing my last email yesterday. This week has been a rather rough week though. lots of disapointment and lots of trials. Ill start with the bad news so I can end with something positive. On Wednesday we met with Phillip to finish up all of the last things we needed to talk about before he could be baptized.we were supposed to see him an hour prior at institute but he never showed up which is not like him it all, he is always so eager to do anything that has to do with church. when we knocked on his door it took him a while to answer and we were about to leave when he came outside and said that he wanted to talk to us about his baptism. we all talked for probably a half hour and ultimately it came to this. Phillip doesnt think he wants to come to our church because it would take him away from his fathers church which is his only connection he has with his dad. so he wont be getting baptized but he said he wants us to meet with him still and that he is still considering being baptized, so i guess its not all bad but a little disappointing.
Great job to everyone that raced this last weekend, thanks for all the results. keep up the good work! Galen rupps 2 mile sounds pretty exciting, running 8:07 indoors!!! thats crazy! thats the outdoors american record for a full sized track! cant wait to see what he does in outdoors this year! 

This week wasnt a very busy week either hardly anyone answered the door or even talked to us, got several false addresses, and I got a water bottle chucked at me from a car, at least I was thirsty.
We had a really good specialized training this week about grace. President showed us a talk by Brad wilcox on it, Im not sure what its called but it was really good, so if anyone has time to watch it or listen to it they should. We are very blessed because of our saviors grace and the atonement. The savior has gone through everything for us so that we dont have to be alone, we can always have help from someone who knows exactly what we are going through. Out here on a mission you hardly have anyone to turn to for help so knowing that the savior is always with us to help is very comforting. Make sure you always take advantage of that blessing because that gift has already been paid for by the savior in the garden of Gethsemane.
The positive news I said I would end with is that James is still planning on being baptized and has given up smoking! He will be baptized just in time for him to be able to get the priesthood and baptize his son! 
On to bike week! Have a great week!
love, elder Johnson

I think I found the talk Elder Johnson was referring too, if not, it's a good talk, too, just click on the link 

Brad Wilcox's talk on grace and the atonement
I was able to email talk with Elder Johnson for quite a bit today, it was great!  He shared some of his struggles, but right along with those, he was able to joke back and forth, it brought a smile to my face and a few giggles, and even some tears, I love (and miss) his sense of humor.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Week 3 in Arkansas--Kites, Aliens and Companions...ALL is well!

This last week has flown by, now that I am adjusting to being out here things really are flying by like almost every return missionary says they do. Not a lot happened this week. James Sears baptism was pushed back to the 15th of feb. so that his family could be in town and phillips is going to be on the 8th. I dont think I have written much about phillip. Phillip lives with two of his friends and all of them are heavily addicted to all sorts of drugs. at first I hated going to teach them because I would always leave there apartment light headed because of all the stuff I was breathing in. the first time I was there, there was so much smoke it looked like a fog machine was on in there. but as lessons have been progressing less and less smoke has been in the air and they have been more interested in what we have been teaching them. While phillips two friends arent cooperating as much phillip is completely changing. he always volunteers to say every prayer (opening and closing) read every scripture, dropped his families church, goes to institute, and is working on getting over his addictions. Without us telling him he had already given up several of the drugs he was on. we just invited him to throw away all of the drugs he has yesterday, later tonight we are going back over and we will find out if he was able to do it or not. He is set to be baptized on the 8th.
yesterday was stake conference. We had a lot of great talks all focused on assisting the missionaries, hopefully that will get the members going and get them to be more willing to help us. missionary work is heavily dependant on the members of the ward going out with the missionaries to teach lessons, finding referals for us, and feeding us. One of my favorite talks given at stake conference was given by my mission president, President Peterson. He gave a message about flying kites and that if we run with the wind our kite wont be able to rise into the sky but if we run against the wind we will be able to rise up into the sky. Its a lot easier to run with the wind or the ways of the world but being members of the chruch of jesus christ we cant run the way of the world. we need to run against the wind or the ways of the world so that we can rise up and return to heavenly father. Lots of the time the hardest thing is the right thing. going on a mission is hard, staying up or waking up early to read your scriptures is hard, sharing the gospel is hard, following all the commandments is hard but it is the hard things that will help us rise up and fly in the sky.
The area I am in right now is the ghetto part of town. Most of the houses are really beat up and there are lots of shady type people. the sisters are in the cleaner part of this area. one of our recent converts nephews was actually stabbed just the other day.
Being a missionary and talking to people about what they believe sometimes brings up weird conversations. This week I was visiting a older lady that was talking to us about how she believed Goliath was an alien. I never really understood why she thought that but she tried hard to convince us it was true.
I got a question asking about if I get a long with my companion very well and most the time I do but sometimes we dont, but I guess thats something you have to expect when you are with the same person 24/7. I think thats probably one of the harder things for me, I get really annoyed by him sometimes and then my desire to be a good companion is not usually there. Overall though I really think he has been a good trainer for me and taught me a lot and has worked really well with my stubbornness of waking up at 5:45 to workout.
Congrats to everyone that ran this last week in there indoor track meets, I love hearing how everyone is doing in there races. keep it up Davis and Weber!
Also really excited for Galen Rupp and his new american record in the indoor 5k! wish I could have watched it! Keep me updated on you guys and everything else! Have a great week, miss you all!
Love Elder Johnson

He also included this in an email to Kelton, which is great advice for us all, even if you're not a runner...

 I see all the benefits from the work ethic that I have built up over the last 5 years of running paying off over here. waking up as early as we do and then working hard till 10:30 at night is not easy and all the things you are doing now can determine what kind of person you are going to be in the future. work hard in everything you do because nothing defines a person better than working hard in school, life, sports, and everything. Give everything your all!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week 2 in Arkansas..Priesthood blessings and baptism dates!

Bonus a few emails AND a letter in the mail, definitely enough to make us miss him a little bit less :)

In the letter in the mail he mentioned some of his favorite things in the mission field..running in the mornings, personal study time, food (especially dinner since ward members cook it for us) and teaching, even though people rarely answer their doors.  On his list of what he, friends, running shorts, the mountains and NAPS, most of that sounds like a pretty typical missionary :)

"Hello to everyone, This week has been really tough for me and has really questioned lots of my reasons for being here, at times I have felt like there is no reason for me being here and at times I just wanted to go home, but ultimately at the end of this week everything came together and all the doubts were gone. Lots of this last week all I have been able to think about is all the hard work I put into running and how quickly lots of it is going away. I am able to workout for a little while in the morning but it is definitely not enough time to stay in the kind of shape I want to be in. For lots of people It may look like a stupid reason to be so worried, but for me running and being in shape has meant so much to me. I know that satan is putting these doubts of not being able to get back into shape after my mission into my head to try and get me to go home and sometimes I really want to. One of these days that I felt this way I asked one of the spanish elders for a blessing. He had no idea why I needed a blessing or really anything about me. I really want to testify of the power of the priesthood. In this blessing I received answers and direction for so many specific questions I had prayed about earlier in the day, many of which talking about things before and after my mission. there is no way Elder Dalton could have known about the things in that blessing, I know that the priesthood is the ability to act in gods name because I have seen it influence my life so many times. I know that the lord will bless me for being here. Elder Ludwig (another spanish elder) told me this the other day, "you are spending two years doing whats important to your heavenly father, and I know that your heavenly father will help you with what is important in your life when you get back. The spirit testified of the truth of what he said and that has helped me to overcome my fears out here.

Although this week has had a lot of hard times it has also had a lot of success. Saturday night we committed Phillip and Gary to be baptized on the 25th of this month. Watching the progress they have made has been amazing. they both were heavily addicted to weed, smoking, and many other drugs and it has been so cool watching them progress to get off of there addictions with the help of the lord. unfortunately they werent able to make it to church yesterday so there baptisimal date has to be pushed a week back, but I know they are on the right path. We had another success last night when we got to go teach James Sears along with the mission president. James is the father of 4 kids and is married to a member of the church. Missionaries have been working with james for months now and last night after talking about the plan of salvation and gaining eternal life with your family he committed to being baptized on the 25th of this month. His wife was so happy to see him accept the gospel, she had been trying to get him to be baptized so that they could one day be sealed in the temple but never had success in trying to help him, you could tell how greatful she was for his decision to be baptized. 
My mom was asking what kind of things I do on P-day but this is only our 2nd one so we havnt done a whole lot yet. Last week we had a nerf war, played basketball in the gym on swivel chairs, and went to the gym. Today we are planning on playing soccer with all the missionaries in the area and then we will go to the gym again.
Have a great week!
Love, Elder Johnson"

Monday, January 6, 2014

1st week in Arkansas...

Hey everyone,
So I kinda expected it to be warm down here but it is freezing cold! I just washed the car and within one minute of rinsing it we had a layer of ice frozen around the car. It has been really cold and windy ever since I got here and with the humidity it makes it feel even more cold. I am always freezing here, I cant wait for spring time. 
So on tuesday around 2 in the morning we left the MTC and drove to the airport and was able to talk on the phone which I am really grateful I got to do. after talking for a while we flew to atlanta and then to arkansas where I met my mission president and mission mom. they are both really great people, they used to live in ogden before they were called to serve in arkansas. Sister peterson (mission mom) makes really good food as well, dinner there was the best meal ive had since I left for the MTC. New years was no different than any other day at the mission home though, we actually went to bed earlier than usual that night, but im definitely not complaining. We were all so tired after waking up at 2 and then traveling all day we went to bed at 9:30. The next day was our transfer meeting and I was assigned to serve in the Pinnacle Mountain area (Little rock area) with Elder Jardine. One of the first things Elder Jardine asked me when I met him is if I liked to work out and if I would go to the gym with him every morning. I was so relieved to hear that I would be able to run every morning. I have been really blessed so far with two companions that both allowed me to run everyday. I am generally able to get in 7 miles every morning. here is my new address,
7820 west capitol avenue appt 1305 Little rock, arkansas 72205 
It has been a really hard week. I expected lots of people to be slamming doors in my face but here no one even answers the door. Both wednesday and thursday not one of the houses we went to even opened the door. At that point I would have loved to have someone slam the door on us just so that I know that people actually live in this town.
One of our key investigators right now is Jarven. His mom is a diagnosed bipolar schizophrenic so he lives with his grandma. Jarven is so close to saying yes to baptism he is hesitant right now just because his grandma doesnt approve of baptism because she thinks we are forcing him to be baptized. we are hoping she will agree to letting him get baptized this month. He is currently reading the book of mormon by himself and attending church and Mutual activities every week. 
Aletha williams is our other investigator that will actually answer the door and we are hoping she will except our invitation to be baptized tonight. she allowed us to give her a blessing last night after she got home from having surgery done on her jaw. She has a lot of faith in her heavenly father.
Elder Jardine is from Pleasant grove utah and played on his schools soccer team, he has been out here for 6 months and has been in this area the whole time. We also hang out with the spanish elders a lot who live next door to us, Elder Dalton (arizona) and Elder Ludwig (Orem, Utah) 
The hardest thing for me right now is staying awake and finding my way around. Hopefully I will get it figured out really fast.
My typical Schedule is something like this
5:50 Wake up
6:00-6:45 gym time
7:00-8:00 Breakfast
8:00-9:00 Personal study
9:00-10:00 companionship study
10:00-11:00 training
11:00-12:00 Lunch
12:00-5:00 Teaching investigators
5:00-6:00 Dinner
6:00-9:00 teaching investigators
9:00-9:45 plan the next day
9:45-10:30 I use this time to workout
Our ward here feels really small compared to the ones back in utah but they are great people and support us in almost everything we do. they make us great meals like everyday and help all of our investigators feel like they are welcome in the ward. It seems like everyone here in our ward lived in utah at one point in there lives.

Love you all,
Elder Johnson

Thanks for thinking of Elder Johnson these past few weeks. He loves your letters and appreciates your prayers and concerns.  Your support keeps him going from day to day when things are tough and from what my missionary says, missions are tough, so please continue praying for him and sending your love. Thanks for all you do to support him

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

1st pictures from Arkansas--New Years Eve

Arkansas Little Rock's newest missionaries...

Elder Johnson and President and Sister Petersen
We were able to talk with Elder Johnson about 5:30 in the morning on New Years Eve as he was getting ready to fly out to Arkansas with a layover in Georgia first.  He had been up since 2:30 and at the airport since 3:30am.  He was excited to get settled and hopefully get some food and sleep at some point.  It was good to talk with him again and so comforting to know his mission president was there and waiting to welcome this bunch of fine missionaries.
Elder Johnson will be trained in Little Rock by Elder Jardine.  The Bishop of their ward texted me and said 'they enjoyed his testimony and we introduced him to an Arkansas New Years tradition with black eyed peas' and even better he sent a picture with his new companion.