Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 21, 2013

Hola Everyone!! Elder Johnson reporting from his first mission area!! I've been assigned to the Round Rock area (northeast of Austin, TX) in the Walsh Ranch ward and district! My new mailing address: 515 east palm valley Blvd #536 Round Rock, TX 78664.

Where to start! It's been a really long week, and it feels like a month since the MTC. However, I'm finally doing real missionary work, and I love it! I can't believe that less than a week ago I was on a plane headed to Texas. The flights (we stopped in Phoenix, AZ) were great. I sat next to a neat guy named either Rob or Ray. He was a native Alaskan, and grew up way in Northern Alaska. He spent the entire plane ride telling us stories about hunting, bears, hunting bears and all sorts of other crazy things! He was a neat guy and we left him with a Mormon.org card. Our stay in San Antonio was pretty great as well. We had lunch at the Mission home, and then went to the Alamo for the "initiation" of passing out copies of the Book of Mormon on the street. I was super nervous at first, but ended up having a great time and gave a Book of Mormon to a really sweet Hispanic gal, but I think she listened to us just 'cause she thought my companion was cute :) That night we had a great Texan dinner and slept at the Zone leader's apartments.
The next day I received my new area assignment and companion. We drove up to Austin for transfer meeting and I met my new companion and trainer, Elder Campbell. He's a great missionary, but I get to that in more detail later. We checked into our apartment with another trio of elders who just happen to be the zone leaders. Our room was a little bit of a disaster, so we had to spend the first half an hour getting everything in order. Then, we sat down and got to work! The first day was hard because the area is a 100% biking area, and I didn't have a bike! We had to call around to get a ride to dinner, which we then had to cram down because we have a rule where we don't eat dinner with members past 6:00 (and the dinner started at 5:30). Afterwards the ward mission leader, Bro. Ovt. came by and drove us around to ward to meet the bishop and other ward leaders. The members we met were all way friendly, and I'm super excited to get to know them better and work with them.  (Picture with Kati Williams from Burke Ward in Virginia!!!!  Justus will be working in Sister Williams in the Walsh Ranch Ward in Austin, TX  What a small world!!!  Thanks Kati for sending us the pictures!!!)

The next day, we finally figured out the bike situation. I'll be riding one of the zone leader's bikes till I get a mission bike of my own! It felt sooooooooo good to ride a bike again!! It just puts a smile on my face to be cruisin' around as a missionary on a bike!! But, the area is a tough one. The previous missionaries had a hard time, and couldn't really get much done, so Elder Campbell and I are starting fresh!! One thing that is different is that door knocking is no longer part of missionary work here. That's right, no tracting. When President Slaughter came in as the new mission president, he encouraged the complete abandonment of tracting as a missionary endeavor. Instead, we are to meet people and find lessons only through referrals or street contacts. Not gonna lie, I was disappointed. Door knocking is the part of missionary work that every return missionary talks about, complains about, and experiences miracles through. But, I'm doing my best to put my trust in this new system, even if that means I won't get that part of the missionary experience. One part of the missionary experience that I did get to enjoy though is the wonderful feeling of bewilderment when you're part of a lesson where you don't understand a thing that's being said! This area is "English speaking" but there is a little part that is super Hispanic. My companion is Spanish speaking and is fairly fluent, so when we were invited into a home with a very animated Spanish speaker, things got confusing really quickly. I understood about 50% of what my companion was saying and about 20% of what the other guy was saying. He was talking SO FAST! After the 45 minute lesson in Spanish, I just had to laugh out loud at my own bewilderment!

Finally, I'd like to relate just one of the little miracles that I've been able to experience so far. Yesterday, we were contacting some less active members, and we ran into a member on the street. We talked with him for a bit, and he invited us to talk to a couple of families on his street. One of his neighbors was working in his garage, so we stopped by to talk for a little bit. We chatted for a while, and really struck up a great conversation!  Eventually, we offered to share a quick scripture and prayer with him. He consented, and we invited his wife out. Sitting there in the garage we talked about their efforts to grow closer to god and Jesus Christ. The wife asked for advice for her study of the bible. I suggested that she see watch some of the bible videos that the church makes along with her New Testament study. My companion shared Ether 12:27 and we talked a little bit about how and why god gives us weaknesses and trials. To close the wife offered a closing prayer, and in it mentioned some struggles that their family was having, and that me and my companion were an answer to prayer! It felt wonderful to be able to touch their life in that way, and they invited us back for a second lesson!

I'm excited for the hastening of god's work, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. My love to all!

Elder Johnson

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