Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Faith, Fun and Miracles

Konnichiwa from The NYC,

Wanna hear how my week went? Of course you do, or else you wouldn't be reading this letter about how my week went. This last week was full of faith, fun, and miracles!!!

It all started out with the Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on our apartment door early one morning.  Elder Kia answered the door and
because he was getting ready to go help someone move, he was in regular people clothes. They talked to him like a regular person. I could hear the whole conversation, as the front door is right by my study room. As Elder Kia was talking to them, he silently beckoned me over (I was in proselyting clothes with my name tag and all). I came into their view and they got all hesitant and weirded out. They didn't know they were talking to LDS missionaries hehe. Their door approach was sub-par but they were nice people so we politely told ‘em that we respect what they're doing because we know how hard it is ‘n stuff. They smiled back and said, "you too" it seemed kinda fake but you gotta love those J-Dubs.

Elder Schneider is the District Leader so he had a mission leadership meeting this last week. I was able to go on a split with Elder Meek who is a Spanish missionary. Since I went into his area, that meant I was able to be a "Spanish missionary" the whole day. We had a couple of appointments that we went to. Thanks to two years of Spanish in junior high, I could understand a little bit here and there. However, also thanks to two years of junior high Spanish, I could barely speak a word. The day consisted of me nodding my head and saying "Si" over and over again. The amount of times I said, "Si" is prolly up in the huneds.

Saturday we were able to baptize Steve!! He is the guy that moved from Ohio who had met with missionaries before and been taught everything. What makes this baptism even cooler is the fact that for the month of May our mission had a goal of 100 baptisms. Elder Schneider and I really wanted to contribute to the goal, however, with our teaching pool and the people we were currently working with at the beginning of the month, we didn’t know if they could possibly be baptized in less than a month. Elder Schneider and I had been praying for a miracle all month. Is it a coincidence that we met Steve, who was all ready to be baptized, randomly on the street? I think not!

The day Steve got baptized.

Saturday night we had an appointment with a blind investigator that we have. He lives up in Riverdale where all the Jews live. It is actually the sister’s area but they passed him to us. We enjoy going up there because it reminds us a little of home. As we came out of our investigator’s house, we were walking to the bus stop and we heard, "ELDERS!" coming from a car on the side of the street. We went over and started talking to the three women in the car and found out that they were members. Two of them were from Cottonwood, Utah. They were on a road trip and gave us all the food in their car and then gave Elder Schneider and me each twenty bucks. We tried pretending like we didn't want it (even though we did) or need it (even though we kind of did). It was a huge blessing. Food is very expensive in the city so we were both out of money for the month. Could I have found ways to save my money better throughout the month like not eating New York pizza or blowing money on HONEY BUNS? Yes. Yes I probably could have. My point is that we were in desperate need of some flow and God watched out for us. We don't need to live off of cheese and crackers people, when we have the restored gospel.

When you're doing what God wants you to, He will provide. It is literally that simple.

I Love you all like obesity loves a combination of Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

-Elder Tyler Johanson

*Simba talking to Mufasa*
Simba: Dad, what's that green stuff?
Mufasa: I don't know son, we are from the Bronx.

It's a problem here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Never a Dull Moment

Oh hey there,

So I'm just going to hop right in to the juicy details this last week since that is all that anybody cares about anyways.

This last week we were walking home at night back to our crib when all of a sudden this guy yells, "hey, Mormons!" I thought he was going to heckle us because that's what usually happens… Turns out he just moved from Ohio and was being taught by the missionaries back there. We scheduled a time to meet with him. When we went and taught him, we found out he had basically been taught very thing and wanted to be baptized. We extended an invitation for baptism for May 24th aka this Saturday! He was pumped about it. We had to do a baptismal interview with President Morgan because back in his college days some stuff went down.. He was really nervous about his interview but he was given the "ok" by president and he is getting baptized this Saturday!!! We take very little credit for this baptism. Those missionaries in Ohioprepared him well!

We got passed an investigator from the sisters named Benny. When we went into his house I saw that he had an album by "The Fugees". I made a comment on that album saying how I loved certain songs and he got really happy and excited and told me how he used to be a video manager for them. He went on to say how he has worked with a bunch of famous people like Biggie Smalls, Tupac Shakur, Bruce Willis, Spike Lee and many, many others. Apparently at one point he was living "the good life". I hope we can give him the actual good life when we share with him The Gospel of Jesus Christ!

I received my first death threat this last week. Some lady said she was going to tie us up and throw us out the window of her 5 story apartment. It was almost kind of funny because she wasn't an intimidating lady at all. (Don't worry Mom, it wasn't as scary as you're probably thinking.)

Unfortunately Brother Antwine (WWE wrestler) aka "Phoenix" is moving out of our ward. :( :( :( He is going to move to Houston and get back on the WWE tour. We went and helped him move. It was kind of cool being able to carry out boxes of metal baseball bats and leg braces that he has used during matches. He will be missed.

I am doing really great out here in The Bronx! I hope you're doing well wherever you are. Always remember to keep improving. It may sound cliché but there is always room to improve. The best improvement comes through Jesus Christ. Find ways to improve physically, mentally, and especially spiritually. Why settle for being average when you can be one of God’s choice children?

Loves and lollipops-Elder Tyler Johanson

This is Elder Kia. He is pointing at some girl's ratchet weave that blew away and got caught in a telephone pole.

A closer view of what we, in the Bronx call a Tumbleweave.

Another Selfie with Elder Schneider.

These are the people I have the privilege of working with. This man's name is Cisco.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Be Bold

I hope your last week has been a celestial one. I know mine has! It all started last week on p-day with the Bronx Botanical Gardens....Our district was missing grass and flowers and shrubbery and sorts so we decided to go to the gardens. It was therapeutic seeing "nature" and stuff.

Checking out neature with the district

Since Mother's Day was this last week, our zone did an activity. We cut out hundreds of paper hearts and went around the city, places like Yankee stadium and around Fordham University, and asked people to write down on the hearts something that their mom taught them or something that their mom has given them. People were generally excited about this idea! When they would write something down, we would then take apicture of them and stick it up on a Facebook page for them to go and see what others wrote. You can go on Facebook and check out pics of the people we contacted and what they wrote on the page "It Was Mom- Bronx, New York".

Yesterday I went on a split with Elder Kia. Elder Kia is a half Iranian dood from Beaver, Utah. He is my new zone leader/roomie. I don't say this about everybody but he is a homie. We had so much fun together and were able to still have a successful day. I took him to an appointment with a new investigator and thanks to Elder Kia's boldness we were able to get him a baptismal date! Elder Kia is a good example of a bold missionary. It was a good wake up call for me to see what can happen when you are bold. It was as if God took me aside and said, "Son, there comes a time in every man’s life when he needs to get out of his comfort zone and be powerful in declaring The Gospel of Jesus Christ." I'm going to try to follow Elder Kia's example this next week in being bold. Hopefully I will have some crazy stories for you next week because of it!

Split with Elder Kia! Brother Sacks (Ward Missionary) took us out for pizza.

In the mission we have a goal of getting 100 baptisms in the month of May. President Morgan has been trying to get the point across that, with faith, you truly can accomplish anything. Elder Schneider and I really wanted to contribute to that goal. The only problem was we had nobody on date, we didn't even have a single investigator that was progressing at the beginning of May. In the second week of May, we were able to come in contact with three people who are very interested in the gospel. They have many challenges and obstacles in their way, in order to be ready for baptism, but we believe that The Lord has placed those three prepared people in our way because of our faith. Now, if we can just exercise some more faith we might be able to work past their challenges. Whether they will be ready to be baptized by the end of this month I know not. What I do know is this gospel can change their life and eventually, they will come to know of its truth.

Elder Tyler Johanson

In the garden with my boy, Elder Schneider.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Week 15

This last week has probably been the best week of my mission so far! I got my new companion, Elder Schneider, he is the coolest. He is super duper witty, patient, and easy to get along with. He is a champ. He has been a blessing this last week as I have taken over the area. Now that Elder Reynolds is outie so that means it is up to me to get us where we need to go... That's not always easy in the Bronx. Do you know the difference between an avenue and a parkway? Hey, neither do I! But I am learning. Elder Schneider's patience and easy going attitude has been a tender mercy.

Wanna hear the highlights or lowlights first? Oh what's that? You guys don't have a choice because we are not talking in person and I am the one writing the email? Ok, let's do the lowlights first to get them out of the way.

A guy on the street told us he killed a man once.. (Not the first time this has happened)

We bought Jarritos for Cinco de Mayo and it ran out way too fast.

Elder Schneider is too funny and sometimes my jaw hurts from smiling.

We were licked by a pit bull. Everybody here has pit bulls for protection. Most of the time they hold them back on chains. The other day this huge pit bull came up and we thought it was going to eat us, instead it licked us… The guy holding the pit bull back on a chain kept saying sorry, then I said, at least he didn't lick us twice!

Highlights of the week:

A woman we bumped into on the street kindly told us to be careful in her neighborhood because we are white and they don't like "us" there. That was the nicest racist thing I've ever heard.

My roommates: Elder Schneider, Elder Griffiths, and Elder Kia.

The sisters gave us a new investigator that looks like Santa Claus.

I get to be a missionary and help change people’s lives for the better whilst doing the same thing for myself in the process.

On Sunday Elder Schneider and I were walking back to the church for the CES devotional and some guy stops us on the street and asks us who won the fight between Mayweather and... Some other dood. Obviously we didn't know, but when we walked away we started talking about if the apostles had fighting nicknames. They could get up during general conference and have them announced with a deep raspy voice.

Anyways, moving on to more spiritual things. At the CES devotional Elder M. Russell Ballard laid the smack down on young adults for using technology way too much. He talked about how technology dulls our sensitivity to the Spirit. We shouldn't have our faces crammed in our iPhones all the time. He talked about how if there is somebody else in the room we should not be ignoring them and using technology. We need to talk about life experiences with others while we still have them around. So many times before my mission I would waste time with family and friends and be on my phone. I wish I would have talked to them more and built stronger relationships. I encourage each one of you reading this to limit the technology you use, for when you constantly
use technology it is harder to feel the Spirit. When you're in the room with somebody, talk to them (no I do not mean texting or through social media.) "I pray that we won't wait till we are ready to die before we truly learn to live." (without technology)

Have you guys ever noticed that The Spirit rarely prompts us to do stuff in our comfort zone? For example, I have yet on my mission to have The Spirit prompt me to get on the subway and not talk to anybody while I daydream about playing flag football.
When we are prompted by the Spirit to do so etching, we should do it. It may not always be the easiest but we are being prompted for a reason, who knows, you could be the answer to somebody's prayer.

Loves and lollipops,
-Elder Tyler J Johanson

 Before he left me. The last known photo of Elder Reynolds and myself. 

Me trying to be super trill next to street art.