Thursday, November 21, 2013

I dub this week the week of exchanges because I feel like
half the week was spent on exchanges. It started on Tuesday, when I went to Vista Ridge with Elder O. He's a fairly new missionary (6 months or so). We spent the morning putting up Christmas lights for a member in his ward...not exactly the best use of time, but we ended up going with him to give a blessing for a young boy going to the hospital. That was a neat experience, but it was costly for time. We didn't get back to our apartment until 4:00 and we had dinner and an teaching appointment right after. We taught an Indian (as in from India) guy named VJ in the home of some members. He was super sweet, and was remarkably open to the
message of the restoration, but he feels devoted to his Hindu beliefs. Thursday, we went on splits with the priests. Unfortunately the priests were 50 mins late, and that threw a wrench into our plans, so we had to improvise. Everything worked out though, and Joseph (one of the priests) and I went and had dinner and taught a quick lesson to a part-member family. Saturday, I went on exchanges again! This time I stayed in Walsh Ranch with Elder O. We had a pretty busy day. We talked to a bunch of people, and even helped wash someone's car, but only got one return appointment out of the day.
 One family actually tried to give us this anti-Mormon book, written by a former member of course.
They were SOOOOO sure that the LDS church is completely wrong. That night we had a lesson with M and A. We had high hopes, but they didn't want to come to church the next day. I don't think we've found a single seeker of truth here yet. So many people are content. Which leads to my thought for the week...
I've heard a few times the quote, "my 'good' is the enemy of my 'best'". I don't think I've ever bought into that principle until now. Complacency and satisfaction are enemies to progression. When you are "fine" with who you are, how you are living, and your life in general, you loose the desire to improve. Without a constant effort of self-improvement, you stagnate and end up regressing. I've seen this in others and myself here. Everyone says, "I'm happy with my religion" and occasionally I say, "well of course you're satisfied, because you don't know how much more happiness is in store for you!! What we offer is a way to grow that happiness that you've already found." I know that that way to find increased happiness and joy is through the true restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and the blessings it offers. This week, I had to step back, and recognize the complacency that was setting in myself. I had to realize that my desires were lessening, and I was becoming more at ease with the lack of success in our work here.
That complacency/satisfaction is unacceptable!! Especially in missionary work! I had to rekindle in myself those high hopes and aspirations that accompanied me at the very beginning of my mission. I invite all of you to watch out for that complacency in your own lives. Never get stuck being "satisfied". There is always more to do, and more to become! Don't lose hope, and just keep trying! I promise our Heavenly Father and Christ are there to help us in our efforts and growth. Turn to them if you feel weak, or if you start to despair. They love you, and I love you. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Elder Johnson

Pictures: Justus with companion Elder C and splits missionaries Elder O and others.  Justus in his apartment and Justus with Texas sized doughnut!

Friday, November 15, 2013

To everyone-
Hey everyone! What a week! Things are finally getting rolling here. The big news of the week is that we had our first investigators at church. YAY!!! For the first time this week we had back to back appointments! It was thrilling to be able to feel busy in that way. However, there is serious opposition to the work. I've got some pretty crazy stories this week.
Last Tuesday started it all. We were biking around, and a guy pulled up next to us, said he had a Book of Mormon and wanted to talk about it. Of course, we were excited to talk to him, and we headed over to his house. When we sat down with him, things were wierd from the start. All of his answers were perfect. I thought he might be a member messing with us. Afterwards, Elder C. and I decided that he was either a perfect investigator or a prankster. I of course was hoping with all my heart that he was sincere. Now for a back story.
We had been made aware of an infamous investigator by previous missionaries called "the moocher". Apparently he took lessons for months on end, attended church four times, and was going to be baptized years ago. Then he found a bunch of anti-mormon info online. He called up the missionaries and told them he had found "his answer" and pretended to be super excited about it. He told the missionaries to bring pizza and soda. Of course the missionaries were thrilled and rushed over, stopping to buy pizza and soda. They sat down with him, ate, chatted, and then asked about his answer. "The moocher" told them he knew the Book of Mormon was false. He then proceeded to bash the missionaries and tried to anti them. Since then, he has consistantly messed with missionaries. He fakes interest for a while, and then will turn the tables and do and say hateful things. On our phone he is listed as "John, liar, do not answer"
Turns out, this "miracle" investigator was in fact "the moocher". What a dissapointment. Our next appointment we told him that we knew who he was and about his past involvement with missionaries. He made a bunch of excuses, and tried to keep lying to us. We invited him to church, and we decided that we won't teach him again until he starts demonstrating sincerity.
The next crazy story occurred over the weekend. We street contacted a mother named J. She has endured so much, and is in the middle of another incredible struggle. She has had cancer three times, and had just found out (for her fourth time) that she once again had cancer. She was clearly on a lot of medication when we talked to her, but she seemed lucid. We set up a time to come back and teach. We planned on teaching the Plan of Salvation and we arranged to bring bro. P. from the ward with us. We got to the lesson, and it went fine! J. had two young girls who were super excited about church and religion. In fact they answered most of the questions, and ended up dominating the discussion. We invited the family to church and they gladly accepted. Sunday came around and they didn't show up. We gave them a call, but couldn't figure out what happened. Later that night, we got a call from the bishop of the neighboring ward. Apparently J.'s mom was a recent convert! She had talked to J., but J. told her some crazy things. J. told her mom that missionaries came by, without a third man, and were teaching some truly blasphemous things (I'd rather not repeat them). Of course the mother was shocked and concerned, and she called her bishop. Elder C. and I were blown away! We had no Idea what to think, there's no way we taught anything close to the things she said. We called the mother. In the discussion we discovered that J. reported many visits by missionaries over the past few days. We had only been by once. We determined that either J. was seriously confused (perhaps because of the medication) or that there were imposter missionaries going around!
Just goes to show that there is opposition in ALL things.
Anyway. There are many stories from this week but those two are the most dramatic! In fact, it's actually been an incredibly successful week, we've found a couple of great potential investigators, and we look forward to meeting with them. I'm going on exchanges over to Vista Ridge tonight, and It'll be interesting to be in yet another part of Round Rock!
I love you all!

Elder Johnson

Monday, November 4, 2013

To everyone-
First off, I'll tell a quick story. Monday last week, I got a fortune cookie that said "Wednesday is your lucky day". Needless to say, I was looking forward to Wednesday. Wednesday came, and Elder C. and I headed out. It was sprinkling a little bit, and the roads were slick. Everything went fine until early in the afternoon. We took a turn , and the front tire of my bike skidded out! I fell off, and took a sweet slide along the road on my side. I gashed up my arm a little, and my pants were torn up, but it was all good. I hopped right up and we just carried on. Then a little later, I got my THIRD flat tire. Me and my companion were stuck with a 40 min walk home. Halfway there, it POURED. I'm talking about a classic, heavy duty, Texas-sized thunderstorm. This, on top of a day with NO lessons, and NO new investigators, make for quite the unlucky Wednesday. Once again, the lesson of humility was taught, and I, the wet, tired, dirty, disappointed, bleeding student had to bow by head and learn.
As for Halloween, as a missionary, it's not the greatest holiday. It just means that you can't do any work all night. The good thing is that, tons of people have leftover candy, so any member you go by offers you a bunch!
This week has been one of those learning and growing weeks. All but one of our lessons fell through. The couple that I was so excited to teach ( K. & A.) dropped us, and that was sad. The excuse you hear all the time here (and I suppose everywhere) is that people are "super busy" and never seem to know when they do or don't have work. I've learned that satisfaction is the enemy to growth and change. So many people are "satisfied" or "happy" with their lives and religion. They feel no desire to change if it means stepping out of their comfort zone. The hardest thing is teaching part member or less-active families who are, or have been exposed to the happiness that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings, and choose to ignore it because it means they have to change. I want to just shake them and say "don't you realize what you're missing! You are fathers who have the opportunity to bless your families with the Priesthood. You are mothers who have the chance to rear your children in the gospel, you have so many blessings that are sitting there for you, waiting for you to get up and come get them!!!"
Anyway, we did get a chance to teach a couple of interesting lessons. One was with P.  He sat through an entire lesson, and then refused to commit to anything! I kinda wanted to laugh, just because he was being so stubborn. Another lesson was with T. She is an incredible woman, who already lives the life of a disciple. But, she likes to talk, and she has lots to say.

I went on splits with Elder W., another "greenie", on Saturday. It was scary because both of us were super inexperienced. No one listened to us all day long! But at the end of the day we taught M. & A., a couple referred to us by the C."s It was the second lesson, and we discussed the Spirit, and read from the Book of Mormon about why we have tragedies and trials in our lives (2 Nephi, Chapter 2). The lesson was less than spectacular. Elder W. and I struggled to really teach with purpose, but the Spirit was there, and Elder C. and I teach them the Plan of Salvation on Sunday, so there is still hope!
We have yet to get anyone to church, but I have faith that that day will come!

Elder Johnson