Thursday, February 27, 2014

Missionary Life in the Bronx

This week was nuts. Or as a missionary in the Bronx would say, a regular week.

Elder Reynolds’ dad passed away this last week. He was healthy then out of nowhere he died. It's been very hard on him. It's emotionally draining for everyone involved. But he is remaining strong and faithful. One of the things keeping him going is he was able to teach his parents the gospel over Skype and they were baptized just 3 weeks ago. It's a cool example of how technology is helping in missionary work.

Elder Reynolds was gone most of the week because he was able to fly back to Arizona to go to his dad's funeral. With Elder Reynolds gone I was in a trio with Elder Davidson and Elder Kiyama, the zone leaders. They are great missionaries! I was able to get more experience teaching actual full on lessons. That was cool because usually Elder Reynolds and I get juked out of lessons by our "investigators" if that's what you wanna call them. We taught a family, the Antwines. The husband is a former WWE wrestler but ended up quitting because he wanted to be home with his family. His family is super nice, they have 6 people living in a 1 bedroom apartment and are very humble. They told us how they were trying to move. He asked me about Utah and I told him about the mountains and fishing and Mormons. I told him about the Timpanogos Caves and I think that's what hooked him on the idea of Utah because he really wants to move out there now! He even said he wanted to live in an RV up American Fork canyon!! #Swag

We taught their family about repentance and they received it super well. They all said that they felt that the lesson we taught was exactly what they needed. It's cool what can be taught/received when the spirit is present.

We had zone conference yesterday. Which means President Morgan spoke to us. He is the greatest! Every time he speaks my mind is spiritually blown. A cool point he made yesterday was how we need to be fully involved as missionaries in missionary work. He said, "one foot in one foot out leaves the heart and mind full of doubt." I think that quote can apply to anybody. We should be fully immersed in whatever we are doing or else we will blow the opportunity because we didn't put everything we have into it.

Soooo Saturday was Radink-to the-hinkulous! We had 2 baptisms scheduled (one of them was Doreatha, the lady with the sketchy gang related background) the baptisms were scheduled for 4 o clock. At 2:30 we get a call from the sisters saying that the water to the baptismal font wasn't working. We rushed to the church and sure enough it was basically slowly coming out of the faucet. Eventually we got the water to come but it was as cold as the hearts of men, which is basically freeeezing. So we were like, "should we just have a cold baptism?" Then the sisters were all, "we would but Miriam (the other lady getting baptized) has this asthma condition thing where if she gets too cold she STOPS BREATHING. So we freaked out and immediately starting collecting buckets/pitchers/pots and went to every sink in the building got hot water from the faucet and started to fill up the font that way. We were boiling water in pots in the kitchen and stuff. It was super duper nuts. We finished right at 4 and it was warm enough. It was a miracle. A stressful miracle but still a miracle.

Elder Tyler J Johanson

P.S. If you would all keep Elder Reynolds in your prayers that would be wonderful.

Sights on the Subway

Filling up the font the hard/hipster way.

Filling up the font. #BathroomMirrorSelfie

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Week 5

Hola everybody,

Wanna hear something cool? I live in The Bronx. It's crazy. Crazy things happen every single day, I wish I had enough time to share them with you all.

First off, this last week was Valentines Day. Just because I'm a missionary/single doesn't mean it's still not one of my favorite holidays. Our ward had a Valentines party which was off the chain. They were playing Michael Jackson and everybody was singing and dancing and the missionaries were standing awkwardly in the corner because we aren't supposed to dance. Do you know how hard it is to hear Michael Jackson and not be able to sing OR dance?! It was basically the equivalent of what outer darkness is going to feel like.

This last week I went on a split with Elder Davidson (from American Fork, zone leader, my roomie) and we went and taught a lady that dated a guy that's brothers with a Harlem Drug lord. He is so infamous they
have a movie about him. American Gangster with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe... I don't know what it's rated but if it's anything like she explained her past to be like I wouldn't watch it. So ya... That's the kind of people we deal with here. But the good news is she passed her baptismal interview and is going to get baptized this Saturday! She is such a nice lady.

Today I went to the Manhattan temple. It's basically the Rolls Royce of temples. Very nice and elegant. After that we spent a few hours in the city walking around stores and went and got food at The Shake
Shack (also the Rolls Royce of burger joints). I saw some white people in Manhattan so that was cool I guess. I had been forgetting what they looked like.

I want to bear my testimony of how crucial constant prayer and scripture reading are. We teach a lot of less actives and in just about every case if they had been praying and reading their scriptures frequently they would still have a strong testimony. The reason it's so important is because it is how we have a testimony of Heavenly Father. When we need to talk to God, you pray. When you need an answer, you read your scriptures. Those two things are very powerful and can strengthen your testimony immensely.

Keep on keeping on back in the 801 (or wherever you may be) And don't do anything I wouldn't do!

-Elder Tyler J Johanson

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Week 4

Week 1 in the Bronx is over and finished. I have seen so many interesting people and had so many interesting experiences that there is no possible way I could share them with you in an email. The Bronx
is no joke. It's the hoodiest of hoods. I'm starting to get used to the frequent police sirens whizzing past your face every 20 or so minutes.

We teach a lot of people in the projects. Those people are my favorite because something interesting/odd happens every time without fail. There are constantly cops everywhere and the inside of the elevators reek of urine. Sometimes the windows are smashed through, letting the bitter NY wind seep through. This is not Utah.

Another cool thing about my area is we walk past Yankee Stadium all the time. Everybody walks past like it's not even there and in my mind I'm thinking, does nobody see flipping YANKEE STADIUM?!

We have a couple of cool ways to find new people to teach here. One of them is church tours. Once or twice a week we open our chapel (which is on the corner of a city block) to the public. We get people
off the street to come in to the church and tour it while we talk to them about the gospel. I'm surprised at how many people are interested. The second way is we go "train tracting" our district (10
missionaries) go on the subway and swarm a car and announce who we are then we start making it rain pamphlets and pass along cards and talk to people about the gospel. It's kind of intimidating going up to
people that look angry all the time but most people are actually willing to talk to us. It's cool the stories people will share you if you are willing to be open to it.

We were walking home one night and a guy comes up and asks me if I have a lighter because he wanted to smoke. I told him I didn't but then we struck up a conversation. I told him I was a missionary and he told me he was a Satanist. We shared our beliefs to each other for about 15 minutes and realized we had completely different beliefs about God and Heaven and Hell but afterwards he told me that he respected me a lot for coming out and sharing my beliefs with people and actually living what I believe. It took me back at how friendly this man was for someone that I initially thought would give me the cold shoulder.

Elder Reynolds is great. He is a straight up mountain man. He talked to me for a looong time about how he loves to trap bobcats for fun. Bobcats. For fun. I don't know why but his personality kind of reminds me of Fregley from The Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

New York fashion tip of the week: The tip of the tie should be just long enough to kiss the belt.

Being a missionary is awesome! I love being able to share my beliefs. Over the last few weeks my testimony of the love that God has for us has increased so much. You're are loved no matter what you do. Realize
his love for you and make sure you pray and thank him consistently.

Have a great week!

-Elder Tyler J Johanson

P.S. It's cold here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

West Side

Howdy! Guess what? It's my first day in the field and I'm currently typing this email on my brand new IPad in the West side of The Bronx. West side suckas!! I've only been here for a solid 7 hours and I've already been mugged twice... Ok just kidding, only once. Jk. But to be serious for a minute it does seem sketchy. It's almost just like I imagined it. But I'm sure I will be fine.

My companion is Elder Reynolds. He is 27 years old and a fairly recent convert to the church. He has been out for a year and been baptized for two. He seems like a swaggy man.

Also did I mention I'm typing this from my brand new iPad?

My mission President and his wife The Morgans are way nice. Like, the kind of grandparents that always bake cookies when you come and give you the best Christmas presents... Like this new iPad.

Well, I don't have much time this week but but thank you so much so far for all the support I've been getting. It has really kept me going.

-Elder Tyler J Johanson