Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Week 9

Dear wonderful people,

Wanna hear something cool? The other day, Elder Reynolds and I were confidently walking down the street when a man sitting on a bench
stopped us and started talking to us. Three things about this man, 1.He was Muslim 2. He had a huge beard 3. He wanted to bash with us. He talked at us (not to us) for 15 straight minutes and would not let us get a word in or let us walk away. He thought he knew what we believed in as Latter Day Saints but he didn't really. The points he was using to bash us weren't even what we believed in anyways, so we both just stood there and smiled at this man trying not to cut in and be like, "Yo, homie, we don't believe any of this stuff you are trying to prove us wrong on!" But as we left you could tell he was feeling really good about himself that he "bashed" us. As an Eagle Scout, I figured I would do my good turn for the day and let him keep thinking that.

We did Church Tours again this last week. Usually we get a lot of people that want to come in and use our bathroom or get warm, but this time we met a girl that goes to the college here in the Bronx and she seems legit! During the tour of the church I kept feeling the prompting to bring up prophets. So I asked her, "If there was prophets back in Bible times and God loves all his children the same, wouldn't he give us a prophet to lead and guide us today?" That question basically blew her mind. She was dumbfounded with every point we talked about from then on. We are hopefully going to teach her this next week. I am excited because even with all the people here, not many are "actually" interested in our church, finding legit investigators here is hard to come by.

Our apartment is infested with cockroaches, so Elder Davidson likes to catch them. As missionaries, we aren't supposed to have animals as pets but cockroaches are hardly animals, so we have two of them. Their names are Wall-E and Randall. Well.... Randall is dead. All of a sudden, Randall wasn't moving and had no legs. We examined closer and Wall-E was much, much bigger than before. R.I.P. Randall.

We had the opportunity to help 2 ladies move this last week. Moving people out and into apartments here is a lot more fun because their furniture doesn't fit in the elevator. Moving couches up and down 5 floors of stairs is saaaaweeet!

Our bishop, Bishop Merkley is the coolest. He is a young guy.  If we knew each other in high school I'm pretty sure we would have been tight. Last Sunday he shared some profound words that have been in the back of my mind ever since. He talked about how a lot of times we don't realize how dim a room is getting until the light goes out. The power to make the light work is always there but it's up to us to make sure the light bulb is working. In other words, "We put the limitations on ourselves of how much we feel Gods love." God is always pouring out his light upon us but it is up to us to not put "limitations" on ourselves to feel of it.

Sooo we have scriptures people! I hope you're all reading them daily. We also have a Prophet people. I hope you're heeding his words. Scriptures are as true as I am white. God reveals his secrets unto his prophets and the prophets have written the direct words from God down in the scriptures. How do we not make time for reading Gods words during our day? How is feeling of God’s love and being directed in the way we should go by using the scriptures NOT at the top of our to-do list?!

Take care and go out and make some memories.

-Elder Tyler J Johanson

P.S. Thank you to all those people that pity write me. I really appreciate any letters I get. Even if I don't respond quickly, that
doesn't mean I don't cherish them. I love getting letters like a fat kid loves cake.

Here are some ole pics that I should've sent a while ago.

Tyler's MTC District

Tyler and Elder Reynolds

Elder Reynolds and Elder Johanson with a member.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This Week in the Bronx was....

Dear people that I love,

This last week has definitely been up and down. But the last few days have been up and I think it will continue to be that way. So this last week was nuts! Everybody is probably annoyed with me saying that every
week but when you live in The Bronx sometimes the only word you have to describe the things you see and the people you meet is.. Nuts.

Last P-day Elder Reynolds and I along with another companionship from our zone went bowling. I bowled over 100 both games so I felt accomplished. They had music playing in there. I heard music by some of my favorite artists like Frank Ocean, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, and Counting Crows. I felt a little guilty that I loved hearing it so much.

Last week on Thursday our Bishop, Bishop Merkley and his wife had us over for dinner. They are a young couple from Utah and don't have any children. They are the best! He is seriously the coolest. He likes to skateboard and she is a singer that plays guitar. He is an awesome bishop and everyone throughout the mission knows who Bishop Merkley is.

The missionaries play something called "Bronx Soccer". In Bronx Soccer you try to kick a plastic bottle or wad of paper or whatever you can kick in between the legs of your companion as you walk. If you kick a pigeon in between your companion’s legs it's worth 10 points! Let the ghetto games begin!

On Sunday we found a man from our ward sitting in a pew after sacrament meeting crying. We went over to comfort him and he told us how he just found out his wife stopped believing in the church and she left him. He asked for a priesthood blessing and wept as we did our best to comfort him. Later that night we went to dinner at a member’s house who is from Benin, Africa. The husband found out he has an infection in his eye and might lose his sight. He asked for a blessing so we gave him one. We gave his wife a blessing as well because she was distraught about the fact that her husband might become blind.

Yesterday we went and taught our schizophrenic investigator. Usually when we go over there she rambles on about how she has seen God
himself and he talks to her and he is actually a midget, or her and her boyfriend are arguing constantly about religion, or her little ADHD kid is running around screaming bouncing off the walls. Basically the Spirit is rarely, if ever, there. But yesterday we went in and she, along with her boyfriend and sister, were all there and calm and patient. They didn't argue and the Spirit was able to be there. The lesson went fantastic! After we taught, the sister told us how she found out she has a condition in her legs that has been caused by her diabetes and how she might have to amputate leg if it gets worse. We explained to her about our Priesthood and how we could give her a blessing. She desperately wanted one. We gave her a blessing as well. The Spirit was able to be there very strongly for the first time ever in that apartment.

I have gained a stronger testimony of the power of the Priesthood this last week. When you put it in action your testimony becomes stronger. I know that can apply to many things as well. It's like Bishop Bullington always told the youth, "If you want a testimony of prayer, pray. If you want a testimony of the scriptures, read your scriptures."

I'm starting to get in the rhythm of things as a missionary and am slowly but surely beginning to appreciate serving here in the Bronx. Slowly, but surely. I love all of you and am grateful for your support.

Elder Tyler J Johanson

Tyler's district

Kingsbridge Zone

Tyler is on the 2nd row, 3rd from the left.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Little Bit of Everything

So this was a pretty good week in the Bronx.
Last P-day our zone had a zone activity. We had our own missionary version of the Olympics. We had different events like a relay race, soccer, staring contests, and my specialty, a selfie contest on the iPads. You best believe I took the gold in that event.
We went train tracting again this last week in the subways. Something strange/interesting always happens. The first guy I talked to actually started talking to me first. In the beginning he seemed super interested but turns out he only wanted to bash me. He would let me say what I wanted to say which was kind of nice of him, I guess, but then he would come out with some random scripture in the bible that didn't really mean what he claimed it did and used it to tell me why I was wrong. I was super frustrated with him but I just kept on smiling at him. It was better than punching him in the nose. 
But it gets crazier. Another time we got on and Elder Reynolds announced who we were and what we were there for, and then we spread out and talk to people. All of a sudden I hear a woman unloading on Elder Reynolds; completely yelling at him, drawing the whole car’s attention to the situation. Soon after, another guy joins in and starts yelling at my companion. The lady pointed to me from across the car and asked me to, "come help him out." I walk over and I guess earlier there was a homeless man in the car and since we as missionaries didn't give him money and help the homeless man we were "hypocrites". When I went over there I had no clue how to help, but along with the spirit I was able to calm the woman down until we were cracking jokes and smiling. I'm grateful for the ability to have the Spirit with me or else Elder Reynolds might have gotten his head ripped off.
Yesterday Elder Reynolds and I got a referral so we looked up the address to get there. We saw that it was a hospital and mental health clinic so we were a little unsure if that was the actual address. When we showed up we went to the front desk and they said we couldn't visit this lady because she is a "prisoner" but then we heard a voice say, "missionaries?" It was the lady's sister who is a member. The woman that we were there to see (who was baptized but is now inactive) had been in a nearly fatal car crash. She had an unpaid fine so the NYPD had custody of her so she was handcuffed to the bed. In order for us to see her we needed to go to the police station to get permission. We got to the police station and while we were waiting to get authorization, this man in hand cuffs was escorted in. He was full on yelling at the cop. Then the cop got up in his face, yelling back, both of them screaming words in each other's face that Mom would be disappointed to hear. Even after the guy in handcuffs stopped yelling, the cop kept letting him have it. I felt like I was in an episode of "Cops". Remind me not to mess with the NYPD. Once we got authorization, we were able to go back to the hospital and check in to see the woman. We get upstairs to her room and she started crying when we walked in. She was in very bad condition. We talked to her for a minute and offered her a priesthood blessing. Elder Reynolds anointed and I did the blessing. The Spirit was incredibly strong. It was one of those blessings where afterwards you can't remember anything you said because it wasn't you speaking, it was the Spirit. She thanked us so much and expressed her desire to start doing better in her life. She is a wonderful lady. We are going to try to go back and visit her again.

I see people here that their greatest goal in life is to receive welfare from the government. They waste their money on drugs and alcohol and that's what they think life is about. But I want to boldly testify that even though The Gospel can seem so complex with so many standards and "rules" it is really quite simple. If you want to be happy, live The Gospel of Jesus Christ. It will be worth it, I promise.
Of course I have other stories to share but I also have laundry and shopping to do sooo. K bye.

Prayers and love from the 914.

-Elder Tyler J Johanson

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Kiss Heard Round the Mission

Hello! Last week for P-day our district went to the city (Manhattan)! We visited the Metropolitan Museum. It was cool. There was really old stuff in there. After we went to Orange Leaf! Apparently they have one here. It's not nearly as good as the one in Utah but it sufficed. I also ate a hot dog off the street so I guess I can cross that one off the ole bucket list.

I had my first haircut on the mission this last week. It's been almost 2 months since I cut those bad boys on my head. They were flowing that's for sure. My roomie Elder Kiyama has hair clippers so he cut it.... It's not necessarily bad. All I'm going to say is on a scale from Anne Hathaway in Les Mis to Fabio I'm about a Napolean Dynamite.

I had the opportunity to go out and do home teaching with Brother Antwine, the WWE wrestler. He may be short but he is super strong, just like his testimony. He was talking about how he is starting up training again so he can get back into the tour. His wrestling name is Phoenix. Swag.

I survived my first fast and testimony meeting in the Bronx. Wow. Without a doubt the most... interesting... testimony meeting I've ever been to. 

Lately we have had problems with a certain man coming by the chapel drunk. He likes to come inside the church and talk with the missionaries. Once he comes in he NEVER leaves. We literally have to grab his arm and walk him out of the church. We are nice to him and all because he provides entertainment but at the same time it's no bueno. Plus he gets a little... fruity when he is drunk and likes to flirt with the Elders. Last week when one of the missionaries escorted him out of the church he turned around and kissed him on the cheek! "The kiss heard round the mission" will be forever burned in my mind.

In our Zone Conference last week President Morgan talked about how us missionaries in the New York New York North mission have the wonderful opportunity to serve in the very first mission created in the LDS church. The places that we teach the gospel in this mission are the same exact areas that Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and many others first went to preach when the church was first restored. I am so blessed that I have the privilege of serving in the same area as Joseph Smith did. I serve in the best mission in the whole world.

This last week I have been trying to make my prayers more sincere. A lot of the time I don't really think about what I'm saying when I pray. I am trying to keep in mind that when I pray I am literally talking to my Creator, my Heavenly Father. When we pray with more sincerity the answers/guidance we receive will be more sincere. As I try to make my prayers more genuine I encourage all of you to do the same!

Love you all. Thanks for being wonderful people and supporting me as a

-Elder Tyler J Johanson