Saturday, August 30, 2014

Elders of Waverly Place

Hi. K.

I think I'm still adjusting to East Coast time because I'm tired all the time.. Hopefully I get adjusted soon. IDK.

Last week for P-Day Elder Gleason and I took our babies (Elder Smith & Elder Burton) to the city. 

 Me at the Statue of Liberty! P.S.Kind of a cheeser.

We went to Times Square, Grand Central Station, and went by the temple. When we went to the temple I was able to see......wait for it....... My trainer, Elder Reynolds! He is a wonderful man. I've gained so much respect for him since I've been made a trainer and District Leader since that is the position he was in when he was training me. I am beginning to realize how tough it was. I love that guy. It was the highlight of the city trip.

 My trainer, Elder Reynolds and I at the Manhattan Temple Chapel, moments after bumping in to each other.

We had Zone Conference this last week at the good ole Kingsbridge Chapel in The Bronx aka my old area. It made me happy to go back there and smell the smells, dodge the dog poop, smell the smells, drive through some of the old streets I used to testify of Christ in, and smell the smells. We had a lunch break and guess who made it for us missionaries? The relief society of the English ward! I was able to see them again and they are better than ever.

We have this investigator named Doug. He is addicted to cigarettes and has been trying to quit for years. He has been doing pretty good recently, going a couple days in between every time he smokes. He was doing great. Almost went for a week without a puff. We were dropping by to see him and as we pulled up to his apartment building we saw him outside smoking a hot one! Our hearts dropped like a bass. He had puffed. The struggle continues. He has faith he will get off the death sticks. We do too. Please pray for this guy.

Elder Burton and I did our car fast on Saturday. We have to pick a day once a week and not use our car at all. It's difficult because we live outside of our area and all of our investigators live miles apart but "it's good for us". We were strolling through White Plains getting ready to cross the street when this guy (prolly the whitest person I've met while in New York) comes running up to us and asks us if we are Latter Day Saints. The way the conversation was headed, it seemed like he wanted to bash us. He was throwing out questions that he prolly thought were tough, but that we encounter all the time about polygamy, and the priesthood, and Christ's teaching, etc. trying to stump us but we were able to answer all of his questions without second thoughts. He got quiet so we started asking him what he thought about The Atonement and we were able to find middle ground! Once we found that out, we were able to have a great conversation for 30 or so minutes. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he was excited to read it. We tried getting his address so we could meet with him again but he said he was moving to Israel soon to study Judaism... We don't know a ton with what's going on over there but that doesn't sound like the brightest idea at this time… Am I right? Or....The best was at the end of our conversation he wanted to pray with us which we are always down with. He offered an interesting prayer. He blessed me with the ability to "confound religious leaders in their fallacies"... I will let you know how that goes.

Elder Burton and I had the opportunity to go tracting this week on a street called Waverly Place. We knocked every door and saw no signs of Selena Gomez (aww man

 "Where are you Selena??"- Me

I want to share with you what I learned from the people on Waverly Place. You would think that the longer I'm out on my mission the less getting rejected would hurt. You would think that, but it doesn’t. Every door we knocked on Waverly Place we got rejected hardcore. People wouldn't even let us speak before they would shut the door. People were telling us everything that we were doing was wrong. My heart sunk. I didn't feel that anyone on that street cared about us (which they obvi didn't). Although it still stings, I realize that that is ok because if it didn't hurt that would mean I didn't love them. "If it don't hurt, you ain't lovin hard". It only stinks to still get rejected because I'm developing a love for these people. S/O to the people on Waverly Place for helping me realize that.

Loves and lollipops,

-Elder Jyler Tohanson

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New York State of Mind


I hope you guys made some memories this last week because I sure did.

My roommates Elder Gleason and Elder Smith are in the Spanish program and they get fed rice and beans out the wazoo. They have been inviting us to a Spanish members house for weeks because she makes enough food to feed them 5 times over and they have to eat it or else she will get offended. We decided to do some service and go over to this Spanish lady's house and eat her food. She made us mangu. Mangu is made out of pl├ítanos which are basically bananas that taste like potatoes. Mangu is thick and sits in your body like a brick. On top of that she made us fried eggs, fried salami, fried cheese, and Dominican spaghetti. She threw it all on my plate and I attempted to eat it like a boss.

This is right before the Spanish lady released The Kracken on my stomach. 

When I started getting close to finishing she would slap some more food on my plate. It wrecked my body. Thank goodness I'm not in the Spanish program because I don't know if I couldn't take a beating like that frequently. She made us wear her clothes over our shirts and ties so we wouldn't spill. She was nice enough to give me a schmedium pink blouse. Good times, good times.

Us missionaries at the Spanish lady's house wearing her shirts (bibs)

I was able to go on my first split as District Leader. I went on a split with Elder Holtom from.... Highland, Utah! He went to Lone Peak too but he graduated in 2012 so I never knew him. He came out with my companion Elder Burton so he is a brand new missionary but he is a great missionary already. Last night I went on a split with my Zone Leader, Elder Garibay from El Paso, Texas. We both served in The Bronx at the same time so we are pretty good friends. It was fun to spend some time with him and learn how to be a better trainer, district leader, and overall missionary.

#SplitSelfie with Elder Holtom

Thursday we have zone conference and it's going to be at the Kingsbridge chapel in The Bronx. Even though we will only be in the chapel I can't wait to go back to my first area.

Tuesday we had a district APF in White Plains. We were giving away free lemonade and had a large Plan of Salvation banner. While the folks were sippin on lemonade we were able to talk about their purpose here on Earth. It was going great until the people from the city shut us down. They told us that we couldn't do our lemonade stand there unless we had a permit. I wanted to tell them that God would be ok with it but I don't think that would've gone over well. It was good while it lasted... If y'all are wondering I'm pleading the 5th.

Moments before getting shut down by the city of White Plains #PleadTheFifth

Sorry I don't have much time to email today, I'm taking Elder Burton to experience the city. We are going to go to Times Square and Central Park. I will flash you the pics next week.

Elder Tyler J Johanson

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Week 29

To all my friends in the place with style and grace,

We dropped by an investigator's house and his American Flag kept whipping me upside the head so I just decided to take a selfie of it, obvi. #Merica

The craziest thing that happened while we were meeting with our investigator Doug. Doug is one of my favorite people to meet with. He became an alcoholic at the age of 12 and started smoking a pack of cigarettes a day shortly after that. He was able to stop drinking in his late 30's but still struggles with smoking (he's 55). His main problems are his addiction and he won't come to church because his mom helps him out a lot financially and his mom is anti Mormon. We have been focusing with him on his addiction and he relapses all the time, but he is making progress little by little. When we went over, he was having some problems with dizziness. Apparently, he suffers from vertigo... We know that now. We sat down to pray and halfway through my prayer I hear Doug talking on the phone, he had dialed 911 and called an ambulance right in the middle of our prayer! We waited with him until the paramedics arrived and made sure he was ok. He is fine now but it was Kuh-Ray-Z in the moment. Turns out he has vertigo and he thought he was gonna die for a minute but we are good now.                      
Elder Burton and I were uh-driving in our car and we drove by a former investigators house that we have never met with before but I recognized the house so we stopped off and decided to go see if we could stir up his heart. He answered the door and said he was busy and couldn't meet with us but then we (I really mean The Spirit) convinced him to give us 15 minutes to talk to him. The conversation turned to The Atonement and how he feels he needs to repent. As we were talking about repentance, out of nowhere he stops us and asks about baptism and what he needs to do to be baptized and if we can baptize him. I was at a loss of words and so was Elder Burton, for I have never had anybody be the first one to bring up baptism. We told him, "we can fix that". We extended a baptismal date to him for August 30th which he accepted! We told him that if baptism was something he really wanted that he would have to keep certain commitments like come to church and if he wanted to be baptized that quickly he would have to come every Sunday up until his baptism... He committed to do it! He didn't end up coming to church so we will have to push his date back a tad..... But we talked to him and he still wants to be baptized! We will play it by ear and I'll give ya the detes as they come.
I am really starting to love being a trainer/district leader. My companion, Elder Burton, is a great guy. His desire to serve The Lord is the cats pajamas. My companion is great and my district is just as cool. There are eight of us here, 4 sisters and 4 Elders. There is a companionship of each in Scarsdale and Yonkers. My favorite part of being district leader is being able to have stronger relationships with everybody I serve around. I give them a call every night and make sure they're home safe and then I ask them how their day was so I get to hear all the awesome miracles we encounter every day.
I wish I could add more to this email but I forgot a lot... Sorry. I will repent and try to do better next week.

K. Bye.

-Elder Jyler Tohanson

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Oh Ye That Walk In the Service of God

Hola mi gorditos,

Good news! I'm starting to dream in the language now. I woke up last night and realized that the people in my dreams were speaking fluent
English. #Milestone

We have had 4 different moves in our ward this week. Elder Burton and I have felt more like professional movers than missionaries but it's ok. We will act on any excuse we can to wear basketball shorts and t shirts.

I just realized that I haven't sent a picture of Elder Burton and I, so I took this picture right before sending this email.

We had a zone APF over in Yonkers. Yonkers is legit because it is a weird mix of The Bronx and the "upstate" area. Elder Burton and I were out doing some tracting. As we knock on a door, we hear a guy in a car behind us asking some people if they knew how to tie a tie. Nobody knew how to tie a tie! We flipped around and said that we could help him. He was on his way to a job interview and needed to tie a tie but had no clue how. We had the opportunity of teaching a grown man how to tie a tie on the street. Afterwards, he asked us what we were all about. We told him we were missionaries and he brought up that he and his wife were actually looking for a church to join. We got his digits and gave them over to the Yonkers Elders, so hopefully that guy and his wife will get in contact with the missionaries.

Yesterday President Morgan initiated something called a "car fast" where we can't touch our car for the whole day. I don't exactly fully understand why... So we weren't able to use our car yesterday. It would have been cool except Elder Burton and I live 4 miles outside of our area, let alone anywhere with work so we walked and walked and walked. When I first found the news that we couldn't drive, I was pretty mad, I don't know, something about walking in blazing humidity didn't sound cool. But then Elder Burton reminded me that just as we can fast from food and water and we receive blessings from that, we can have a "car fast" and get blessings too. All of our investigators live too far to walk so we tracted and street contacted the whole time. It was tiring but at least our legs were getting strong. Now our calves are so huge you can milk em. There were a couple times I wanted to murmur but then I thought back to dad at home. Whenever I would complain about something he would usually just say, "it will be good for you." Every time I wanted to complain yesterday the words, "it will be good for you" popped into my head. We weren't able to see a bunch of success yesterday... Mainly planting seeds..... But if nobody learned anything from us, at least I was able to be taught a little lesson.

It was still worth a shot to knock... They weren't interested.

My birthday this last week was pretty gouda. I was able to spend it in New York, so that cool right? When I woke up in the morning, my awesome new missionary, Elder Burton made me a great omelet for breakfast, he made it right in front of me. I felt like he took me on a bro-date out to Hibachi or something. Later that day, I had scheduled a district leader interview with Sister Groberg and Sister Udy. I showed up to the church and they threw me a surprise birthday lunch with the district! They baked me a cake and everything.

Happy Birthday Elder!

By the far the best part of my birthday was that night we had an appointment with a less active. The guy we were meeting with is 27 years old and was baptized a few years ago. He has struggled ever since he was baptized with fitting into the "Mormon Culture". He tried going to a singles ward but he struggled making friends... All the girls shut him down because he never served a mission, his interests his whole life have not been similar to what these lifetime members have been interested in. Basically he has no support group. He knows he is struggling with keeping the commandments and wants to change. This guy is a genuine dood. He keeps it real and I could sense everything he was saying about change was truly from his heart. Since we could tell he was being "real" it was easier for us to bear genuine testimony. I had the opportunity to share with him one of the most sincere testimonies I've ever offered about the Atonement. In that moment I didn't feel like a missionary robot that quotes the same rote testimony. I could feel the power from every experience I've had with repentance behind my words. Most of all, I knew in that moment that The Spirit was testifying to him of the hope that repentance can bring.

Elder Tyler "Brown Chicken Brown Cow" Johanson