Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Transfer Day

Hello old sports!

Today is transfers. I am officially done with training so The Bronx better look out because Elder TJYoungBuck is comin’ on through! Ok, I'm
sorry, that was a very prideful thing of me to say. I will go repent for that one later. There is good news and bad news about the transfers... Bad news first.

Bad news: My daddy, Elder Reynolds, and I are being separated. The man who brought me into this mission world is leaving me to be a Zone Leader up at West Point Military Academy. Before I came on my mission, I prayed for weeks that my first companion would be 1. A hard worker and 2. An obedient missionary.  These last few months have been hard on Elder Reynolds because he has been dealing with a lot of trials, the biggest being the death of his father. Even though we have many personality differences, I love Elder Reynolds. I wish that everybody could have as much faith in Jesus Christ as he does. It just so happens that two of his best qualities are being hardworking and obedient. Elder Reynolds was an answer to my prayers.

Good news: I am staying in the Kingsbridge area #BronxTeam. Also, I am getting a new companion. My new companion’s name is Elder Schneider. I haven't met him yet, all I know is that his name is Elder Schneider.

Since I don't have much time to email today because of transfers I want to do highlights from this last week. It will be like SportsCenter’s top 10 plays only missionary style.

10. We have a lot of Jamaicans in our ward and they like to feed us so I eat curry goat and ox tails like they're tic-tacs.

9. Bishop Merkley and his wife fed us last Monday. Bishop Merkley is seriously THE coolest dood.

8. There is an investigator named Raquan that is 18 and really wants to serve a mission! The only bad part is his mom is super anti Mormon and won’t even let him get baptized so we will see about that…

7. My 100th day on the mission is coming up… That means 100 nights that I have slept in a bed that is too short for my long legs!

6. Sister Merkley (Bishop’s Wife) is a ridiculously good singer (she has her own CD) She sang "I Believe in Christ" during sacrament meeting.

5. I think my mustache is starting to grow in thicker.

4. We had a less active that we have been trying to get a hold of, unexpectedly come to church with her whole family... That like, never happens.

3. "I am blind, but that’s okay- I still have my jar of pickles."

2. We played basketball again with the youth and I still have yet to lose a game here in The Bronx.

1. There is a God who hears and answers my prayers. When I pray with a sincere heart, in a genuine matter, I know he hears my prayers.

I am sorry this letter was so-so and not a lot of juicy details were spilled but I love you all and will try to do better next week.

-Elder Tyler J Johanson

The Celestial District I have the opportunity to be a part of.

They say a picture is worth 1,000 words...This selfie says somewhere around 3,000.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Drunk Doods in Happy Moods

Hello my fellow hood rats,

I hope your Easter week/Sunday was great because mine sure was!

Last week for P-day we had a zone activity. We all went to da Bronx zoo. I saw grass for the first time in a while. The animals were cool
and all but I have to say that I have seen wilder things walking the streets of the Bronx than I saw at the zoo. The lovely children of God that reside here are all just so wonderful.

I stepped in dog poop on the sidewalk for the first time since I have been here. I have made it long but it was bound to happen eventually so it's probably good that I just got it out of the way.

On Saturday our district went to the street corner by Fordham University and did a "Chalk event" for Easter. The video that the church put out for Easter, "Because of Him", is having an impact on people so we wanted to focus it on that. We got our chalk out and wrote, "Because of Jesus Christ..." and had people passing by write down what they are able to do because of Him. We had our iPads out and showed the "Because of Him" video to people that would stick around to watch. Many people watched. Some even left in tears. One lady I talked to said she didn't have time to watch but I sweet talked her into sticking around for 2 minutes to watch. By the end she was in tears saying, "God is trying to tell me something." She was very interested, along with many other people that we were able to find. It was a very successful event.

"Because of Jesus Christ" chalk event

Chalk Fun-in-the-Sun with the District

On Easter Sunday we were sitting there in a meeting before church when one of the Spanish missionaries pokes his head in and utters the words every missionary wants to hear, "There is somebody here looking for you." Elder Reynolds and I walked out wondering who it could be. It was a man who we met on the bus a few weeks ago and invited to church. We lost contact with him and were stoked when he showed up Easter Sunday to come to church. We had an hour and a half until church started so we taught him a lesson about the Book of Mormon. We had to cut the lesson short because we needed to go pick up an investigator for church. He told us that he would sit there and read his scriptures until we got back. Well............. We came back to the church and this man was nowhere to be found. Sacrament meeting started and at the beginning of the first talk we hear a man start clapping and shouting, "AMEN". It was our friend. Sister Newsome, the wife of the first counselor in our ward, sat by him and calmed him down and it seemed like she got it under control. The musical number starts and he whips out a homemade flute that doubles as a weapon (essentially it's a metal rod with holes in it. He said cops have taken it away multiple times). Sister Newsome used her motherly instincts to, again, calm this man down. At this point, Elder Reynolds and I were getting uneasy and were debating taking him out and telling him how we behave at our church but the next talk started and everything seemed fine. Then... I hear a noise, I look back and he started kissing Sister Newsome's hand. Brother Newsome, sitting up on the stand, looked like he was gonna bust somebody up! Elder Reynolds and I popped up along with Brother Desmond (a tall/built black man) and escorted him out of the church. Turns out he disappeared before church because he was doing a lil boozin and got drunk. We told him that he is welcome back but he has to be sober. We are going to go try to talk with him this week. Our drunk investigator is lucky Brother Antwine (a WWE wrestler) in our ward didn't get his hands on him or we could've had a problem. Long story short, our ward needs a new calling, "ward bouncer".


Saturday night I had an experience that strengthened my testimony greatly. We went to go teach a lesson to an investigator. She is very flakey and suffers from an abundance of addictions and depression. The last few weeks she has been very slowly making progress. When we showed up she was not well. Her kids opened the door, free as June birds, with no clothes on. There was more nudity in that apartment than in sumo wrestling. She said she wanted us to leave her alone and she didn't have time for us. She slammed the door in our faces and we walked off disappointed. Before Elder Reynolds and I made our descent into the abyss of the subway, I had a lingering feeling that we should go back to her apartment. It wasn't so much a quick thought as it was a deep desire. I knew without a doubt in my mind that it was the Holy Spirit. I knew if I didn't act on this prompting, I would feel guilty. I told Elder Reynolds and we went back, in a caring manner we told her how much we loved her and how much God loved her. You are all probably thinking something miraculous happened, right? Well, nothing happened. She told us again she didn't want us over and shut the door before we could tell her goodbye. As we walked off, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction, not because she necessarily listened to us but because I know I acted on the prompting of the Spirit. I don't know if that experience will ever change her life but I do know that it changed mine.

Heavenly Father will send The Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. We must be in the right position to listen and to act on those promptings. For when you act on those promptings, you know you have done the will of your Father in Heaven. There is no greater reward than doing God’s will.

I love you all and hope you've had a great Easter and focused on why it is celebrated.

-Elder Tyler J Johanson

One more selfie because it's been too long

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ima Up in Brooklyn, Now I'm down in China Town


I hope you were all able to find ways to strengthen your testimony this week! Cuz like, how is feeling of God’s love for you not at the
top of your to-do list!?

Last p-day was pretty Radink to the hinkulous. The New York New York north mission has the best p-day activities in the whole world. I'm not being arrogant, I'm just stating facts. (R.I.P. To those few serving in Nebraska ‘n stuff)

Last week, as a district, we went to Manhattan and went on the Brooklyn Bridge. Since Brooklyn is part of the south mission, we could only walk halfway across because we didn't want to go out of our boundaries but whatevs. The bridge is long and ain't nobody got time fo dat. After the bridge, we went to China Town and got dumplings. Mine were supposed to be beef dumplings but there is a fifty-fifty chance that it was cat meat. After a delicious lunch of cat meat, the elders wanted to go to a store called Century 21, right across from the temple and buy ties. Century 21 is every missionary’s dream store. They got ties coming out the wazoo up in there. Outside of the temple I saw a kid wearing a Lone Peak sweatshirt and I was like, "Yo!" Turns out it was the Brother Hafen (from my home stake) and his family. We talked for a bit and then we took a picture so he could send it to my mom. I decided to put my arm around him in the picture even though I don't know him on an "embracing basis" but it was worth it.

We went with some Spanish missionaries, Elder Nelson and Elder Smith, to a lady named Sparkle's house because they wanted to pass her over to us. She asked the question, "I've already been baptized, why do I have to be baptized twice?" Inside, we were all thinking, "Oh crap. We have to break the news." Nobody was speaking up so I decided I would volunteer as tribute and tell her that she needed to be baptized again
because she wasn't baptized by priesthood authority. The rest of the lesson went well and she accepted everything we told her. The only thing she had a problem with was that all of our pamphlets had pictures of a white Jesus and not a black Jesus (a lot of people here think Jesus was black). But other than that, it was good. As we left and updated her teaching record on our nifty iPads we noticed she was already in there. We had 4 missionaries there and not one of us thought to ask what church she was baptized in! Apparently she was already a member! She doesn't know anything about our church though and she can't remember much about her baptism so we think she was baptized when she was 8 and hasn't been back. We knew she was too golden to be true...

I played basketball again last night with the youth. I still have yet to lose a game here in the Bronx. Swerve.

A group of children called me their “N word" the other day. I know most people think that word is offensive back home but here in the Bronx they use it as compliment.... and a verb, and a noun, and an adjective, and a sentence. I felt loved.

This last week has been tough on us lessons wise. People are way flakey on appointments. You will call them and confirm the appointment that same day, show up at their house and they won't be there. Sometimes they won't even call you back and tell you why they weren't there for a week or so. Despite the low numbers I know I can still be a successful missionary. Success doesn't come in numbers but it comes when you can feel the Spirit in you as you testify.
I desperately want whoever reads this to know that Heavenly Father loves you. You put the limitations on how much you feel of God’s love. Open up your heart to him in prayer and he will manifest his love to you in some way.

Have a happy Easter homies.

-Elder Tyler J Johanson

Look at the Bridge on that one!

Selfie on the bridge with Sister Arquero (lil Philippine gal. Super happy all the time. Basically everybody's little sister/ the district mascot), Elder Davidson (Zone leader from American Fork/ my roomie), Sister Fletcher (She's from Idaho Falls, went to BYU-Idaho. Swag.), and Elder Griffiths (southern gentleman from Georgia... Ladies??...)

Our Chapel in the Bronx.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Making it Facebook Official

Dear Lovely Deserets,

This week has been good. You know. Just your normal week being a missionary, trying to change people’s lives and stuff. Nothing too cool. Sike! It's the coolest. I think it's finally starting to hit me that I am a missionary now. (Is that bad, considering I have been a missionary for almost 3 months)?

This last week, I have been cleaning up my Facebook account trying to get it ready for online proselyting. I apologize, but I had to go through and unlike and delete a bunch of comments and pictures so if you got offended that I don't like anything of yours now, I'm sorry, but I had to. It's just the way it has to be. Also, with Facebook, not like I'm going to be that guy that asks for pity likes on his statuses and stuff like that but as missionaries we are trying to reach as many people as possible. So don't feel like you have to pity "like" anything but if you really do like a status that I post, please like/comment/share in abundance.

Last P-day we went to Manhattan! Swerve. We were able to go to the temple which is always fun. After that, we checked out Grand Central Station. That place is cool, I can only think of the movie Madagascar when I'm there.

At the Manhattan temple with Elder Reynolds.

On Monday I went on a split with Elder Ross. He is from Wyoming. He is being trained too and we were in his area so neither of us had any clue where we were going. Then it started pouring rain relentlessly. The one day I chose to wear my jacket without a hood… and since we were on a split it wasn't like I could go home and get my other jacket. It was a trial, I think I endured it well.

The day of the rainy split with Elder Ross. #SplitSelfie

The relentless rain made make me think of Noah's Ark. It felt like The Bronx was going to flood just like in Noah's day. It would be easier on Noah if he was from The Bronx because after he built the Ark, instead of collecting tons of animals, he would just have to round up 2 stray cats, 2 pigeons, 2 rats, and 2 cockroaches and he could have called it good!

On Monday during the split with Elder Ross before the rain happened we were walking around South Bronx. They live down by Yankee Stadium and it was game day! We saw multitudes of  fans walking past us, laughing and having a jolly time. The ticket scalpers were trying to sell us tickets and help us with directions because we probably looked lost and out of place. Yankee Stadium, on game day, it was pretty cool to see.

 Yankee Stadium

Last, but definitely not least for my letter. General Conference was this last weekend! I hope that you all watched every single talk. If you didn't, I kindly but strongly urge you to go back and listen to or read them. My favorite talks were Elder Eyring’s during priesthood session. He talked about heroes that he had and how regardless if we are aware of it or not, we mirror how our heroes act. What kind of example are we going to set for others?

My other favorite was Elder Uchtdorf's during the Sunday morning session. How the thing that we can do to make life sweeter is to be grateful. Regardless of our circumstances, we need to be grateful. We need to see gratitude as a way of life that stands independent of our current situation.

General conference was the best! I am surer now, than I have ever been in my life, that Jesus is the Christ and that we have a true prophet, Thomas S. Monson, who receives revelation for us.

-Elder Tyler J Johanson