Thursday, October 30, 2014

Coastin' on a Dream

Hello homo sapiens, (my attempt at a not so cliché greeting)

Hope your week has been good. Hope your Halloween is good too. Make sure you read your scriptures and say your prayers before trick or treating. I would hate for a witch to pop out n eat ya. 

This week has consisted of a bunch of service which I love. It gives us a chance to change out of our shirt and tie. Every week we help out a family here named the Phillips. They don't have what most people here consider a farm but they have some land, a barn, and animals so I consider it a farm. We have been helping them get ready for winter by cutting wood. I feel like Paul Bunyan every time I step foot on their property. We have also been able to rake plenty of leaves for old ladies. Service is my favorite type of missionary work. 

Took a break from working at the Phillips’ so we could work at our selfie game. (My companion Elder Judd is the one in the middle, and then the Spanish missionaries Elder Nelson and Elder Diaz.)

We had our ward’s trunk or treat. We were able to see some less actives and a non member there. It was a good non-threatening activity. The best and worst part of the night was when Elder Nelson, Elder Diaz, Elder Judd, and I were asked to judge the kids costume contest. It was the best because during the night all the kids would try to get tight with us. I felt so loved. It was the worst because when we announced the winners the kids that didn't win rebuked us. On the bright side, most of the kids forgot about it by Sunday.

Back when I was in Scarsdale, Elder Burton and I went through the area book and found a former investigator named John. He had a baptismal date at one point so we decided to go by his house and see if he was interested in meeting up with us again. When we knocked on his door, he told us that he wasn't that interested and didn't know if he had time to meet with us, but as we stood on his front steps and testified of how the gospel can help him, The Spirit spoke to him.... I don't know what The Spirit said but it said something convincing because he let us sit on his back porch and talk to him some more. That first time we met with him we got on the topic of redemption when all of a sudden he asked what he had to do to be baptized. I will never forget it, Elder Burton and I looked at each other as if to say, "Miracles do happen!" He had some struggles as we were working with him, but John felt like he was ready now. This last Saturday was his baptism and I was able to get special permission from President Morgan to drive to Scarsdale and attend! It was a great service. The coolest part would have to be that as he was working towards baptism for the second time, he was able to get in contact with one of the first missionaries that started teaching him 7 years ago. The missionary that originally found him skyped in to the baptism. You know what they say... you don't always reap what you sow but sometimes you Skype it. Am I right? Or...

John’s baptism! Good to see John and Elder Burton again.

Friday morning we had interviews with President. The interviews were being held in the Newburgh chapel. Thursday night, one of my roommates who has served in Newburgh said it would only take 30 minutes to get there. Friday morning we woke up, got ready, and left with 40 minutes to get there. We started driving and hit a little bit of construction, on top of that the chapel was further than a 30 minute drive and would've taken about 45 without the construction. We were rushing to get there and by so doing, we neglected to take into account that the Spanish Elder’s car that we were driving in was running low on gas. We got to the Newburgh chapel ten minutes late to our interviews with President Morgan. We all felt embarrassed and ashamed but President Morgan is such a nice guy that he just brushed it off and we got started. My interview went great! President Morgan has a way of showing his love for you but helping you stay on your toes and being productive like nobody I know. 

Trees line the streets here like shoppers line stores on Black Friday. It's beautiful here this time of year. 

After the interview we all hopped in the car and started driving back. While driving, a beeping from the car started interrupting our consecrated conversion. It was the car telling us that our fuel level was low. It wasn't just low but that it was basically empty. The electronic gauge read that we had 7 miles of gas left before we were toast. We typed the nearest gas station into the GPS and started squealing like little girls when it said that the nearest gas station was 9 miles away. The nearest exit off the freeway was also 9 miles away. We kept driving, hoping that the fuel gauge was lying to us but it wasn't. When the fuel gauge read 2 miles to empty we still had 4 miles to go to the nearest village. We didn't know what to do, so we decided to pray. The fuel gauge dropped to 0 miles to empty and we still weren't off the exit yet. We coasted down the slight decline and got off. We drove up to the gas station all singing and praising and whatever cuz we thought we were safe but on the only gas station in the village, there was a sign that read, "NO GAS". Hot darn, we were scared. We typed the next closest gas station into the GPS and started heading that way. It made us get on the freeway again and travel 6 more miles to the next nearest town. Luckily, most of the way was down a hill so we coasted on down while chucking up some more prayers. I don't know how we did it but we made it to the next town and pulled on up to where the GPS said the gas station was and it was out of business! The second attempt was a no go. We figured we made it about 15 miles with 0 miles of gas, what was 1 more? Luckily the 3rd gas station we tried had some gas. We filled the car up there, took a selfie to remember the moment, and said a prayer thanking God for helping us not look like idiots stranded on the side of the freeway. Nothing like making memories. 

Elder Tyler J Johanson

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dunkin Donuts < Krispy Kremes < The Spirit

Last Monday for district meeting I was able to give a training on the role of the Holy Ghost in missionary work. As a district, we were discussing ways that we can invite the Spirit more in our lessons. One member of the district brought up how singing hymns invites the Spirit so we set a goal to have 10 lessons that we sing in. For us that is a big deal because we don't have any singers in the district so it would basically be us embarrassing ourselves 10 times. As a district, we went out this last week and we crushed our goal.... by one... we were able to get 11. As Elder Judd and I sang with people, although our voices aren't great, we weren't even embarrassed once. The hymns really do invite the Spirit. The excuse of "I don't have a good voice" is never a valid reason to not sing the hymns at church. Don't do it folks. 

We are working with a less active who works at Dunkin Donuts and he hooks us up with free donuts. I've already gained 20 pounds since I've been here in Middletown. Jk I'm only kidding. However, if New York ever decided to invest in a real donut place like Krispy Kremes we could have a problem on our hands. 

Us missionaries went over to help a lady in the ward who has recently moved back to the house that she grew up in. Her parents have both passed away and so she wants to go back to her childhood house and fix it up. Cute story right? Well it would be but her father grew up during the depression and that influenced him to keep everything, even if it was useless. He was a hoarder. We went over there and for a couple hours we went through junk piles in the backyard. We found some crazy stuff in there. We found bowling balls, 4 sinks, a toilet, dozens of old leather shoes, and huge old glass bottles that looked like they could've stored moonshine at some point. We didn't nearly finish and won't finish for a while. Missionaries have been going over there for a couple months now. It was an adventure going through all that stuff. It felt good to be able to help out too.

Thursday we were supposed to have an appointment. We drove on up to the house and our hopes were shot when the house was dark. We knocked on the door anyway aaaaaaannnnddd nothing. We had just done been juked out of our missionary cleats. As we walked away from the door, we muttered to ourselves the two words that all Mormon missionaries say frequently, "flip elder." Our backup plan was a less active lookup and that guy wasn't home either. Our backup plan had fallen through, and we still had an hour before it was time to go back home. We were wondering what to do. After multiple more times of the words "flip elder" escaping our lips we decided to go visit a potential investigator who missionaries had talked to a couple times but never have been able to get a lesson with him. We drove on over to his street in our church issued Lamborghini (It’s really a Ford Fusion) while bumping rap music (by that, I mean EFY soundtracks). When we stepped out the Lambo there was a group of about 8 or so guys (20's, tall/strong, all African American) surrounding a car listening to rap music while sipping on booze and smoking joints. Our potential investigator was outside his house, not necessarily with the group of younger guys by the car, even though he knew them because they hang out on the block often. We went up and started talking to the potential. He is a good guy and the conversation quickly to turned to God. After a few minutes, one of the guys hanging out by the car walked the 50 feet or so over to the three of us and started listening. Then with a beer in his hand he asked us to start telling him what we believed, he said, "if you're out this late, what you have to say must be important." It was only 8 o clock but it had gotten dark, and when it gets dark here that's considered late and white people don't usually go out after the sun puts its shades on. He told us he had been told about God a thousand times but didn't really know if He was there, he said he didn't know what his purpose was here on Earth. We started teaching him that he can communicate with God through sincere prayer to know He is there. We taught him about what our church believes about our purpose here in life. He was interested and then started to confess to us things he has done wrong over the years and wanted to know how to be forgiven. This was music to our ears because obviously, repentance! We started telling him about how he can be forgiven for his mistakes. When we started to do this, something interesting happened. One by one the group of guys walked over and without a word being said they stopped and listened. The rap music that had been blaring from the car just seconds earlier was turned down. As Elder Judd and I talked to this group of guys, nobody spoke a word, they just listened. After we finished describing how to repent most of the guys walked back towards the car, still not saying a word. We kept talking to the original guy that approached us and when we talked he poured the rest of his beer out in the dirt. He was already letting the Gospel of Jesus Christ change him. We had to go at this point so we got his info and are going to try to talk to him in the future. I don't know if any of those other guys benefited from hearing us preach about repentance but it was cool to see that they came over just to hear what we had to say. Moments like that make the mission worth it.

L8er Sk8erzzz 
Elder Tyler J Johanson

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pulling Through the Clutch

My first week in Middletown has been a good one! My new companion Elder Judd is what the kids call a "homeboy". He was quiet at first but he is coming out of his shell and now we laugh ALL the time. He is a funny guy and we have a lot in common too. For example we both died a little inside this last Saturday when we remembered that college football was on.

Church on Sunday was schweet! The ward is the cats pajamas. My new ward is an English and Spanish ward. There's not enough people for two separate wards so they just clumped them together. It makes the dynamic of service a little weird. The talks are usually in English and then one of the Spanish missionaries in the ward translates to all the Spanish people with headsets on. Our opening prayer was offered in Spanish and the hymns are sung in Spanish and English. Pretty krump stuff if you ask me.

The mission had the opportunity to have a special viewing of Meet the Mormons. I would advise you all to see it. Definitely the best movie I've ever seen thus far on my mission.

The worst thing about being transferred out of Scarsdale is that last Sunday Elder L. Tom Perry visited the Westchester 1st Ward in Scarsdale. The week I leave he decides to show up!! It stunk. Like, a lot but the pain will eventually pass I'm sure. On Sunday since Elder L. Tom Perry was in New York he gave a fireside in Manhattan and we got to see a broadcast of it all the way up here in Middletown. In the fireside, it was mentioned that just a short while before conference, Elder Perry had hip replacement surgery. He recovered so fast he didn't even have to walk up to the pulpit with a cane or nothin' #PullinThroughInTheClutch

I've been realizing lately that leadership in the mission is not as big of a deal as a lot of missionaries crack it up to be. Yes, it is a big deal in that you have the opportunity to serve those in your district or zone but it's not a big deal in the sense that it reflects how much you know or anything. When I was first made district leader in Scarsdale, we had a young district and it was great being able to help the new missionaries out there. Here in Middletown, I'm still the district leader but the district is older. Other than Elder Judd and I, everybody else goes home within the next 4 months. There are some great missionaries here. You aren't called into leadership because you are better than anyone. You aren't called into leadership because you know more than anyone. You are called into leadership to learn. You are called as a leader to serve. You are called as a leader to be a humble example. I need to be better.

During studies this last week, I was studying up on Romans in the New Testament. In my studying, I found that one of the reasons Paul wrote the letter to the church in Rome was to address a conflict between the Jewish members of the church and to the gentile members. Apparently there was discrimination going on in the church because of the different backgrounds of the members. In Romans 3 he says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" Basically meaning that it doesn't matter if you are Jew or Gentile, black or white, male or female. We all sin, we all fall short and therefore we must ALL have faith in Jesus Christ. We should all stop judging others for what they do and focus on what we can do. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Elder Tyler J Johanson


Don't have any pics of my own, but how about Thomas S. Monson repping the skinny tie???

Saturday, October 11, 2014

All Fancy Like

K. Hi. 

Elder Burton and I do volunteer work at the community center and feed old people food. Towards the end of lunch, Elder Burton and I were walking around the floor scouting out old people that were finished with their food so we could take their trays. There was this one geezer who looked at me and beckoned me to come closer, so I did. When I walked up to him he didn't say a word but proceeded to scroll on his iPhone, obviously looking for a certain picture. After about 30 seconds of silence, and me questioning to myself why I was standing there, he showed me a picture of him and Eli Manning. This guy loves New York Giants football. We talked about Giants football for a couple minutes then he went silent and started to scroll on his iPhone again. He showed me a picture of the chubby guy on SNL. Turns out the chubby guy is Billy Manahan from Saturday Night Live. Billy Manahan just so happens to be that guys son! Because his son is a hilarious guy with tons of hookups, he has gotten his dad a ton of crazy cool hookups. Nice guy.

A picture of Tyler's zone

Last Friday we were doing a Zone APF for General conference. I was with one of my best friends in the mission/roommate for the last 4 1/2 months, Elder Smith. We were strutting through the streets when this friendly guy starts talking to us on the corner. He told us that he was selling cologne and wondered if we wanted any. He asked us if we wanted free samples and we both said, "Sure dood. Spray us up real fancy like." Little did we know, he was going to spray our bodies with every cologne he had. He sprayed us multiple times with multiple different colognes. Elder Smith and I thanked him and walked off as we tried to keep from getting headaches from breathing the fumes. We both felt pretty foolish walking past the "rough" parts of White Plains smelling like a couple of fruity Clay Aikens so we decided that we would knock a couple doors. As we knocked doors something magical happened. We talked to 4 people on that street. The first guy was ticked off at us for even coming to his door, not too different than usual. The second and third were interested and said that we could come back! The last guy let us teach him the whole restoration. Of all the doors I've ever knocked I have never had a single soul ever tell us we could come back and we were blessed to find two next door to each other. The cologne worked!!!

Last Saturday was what we call "shock calls" where we find out who is getting transferred. I got the call. I'm being transferred upstate a little bit more to Middletown, New York. I don't know much about Middletown other than it is further away from the city. I have heard great things about it though. My new companion is Elder Judd. Elder Burton, who I just finished training, was companions with Elder Judd in the MTC. It was a hard week saying bye to everybody I've come to love but I guess if your heart doesn't hurt you aren't loving hard. It's hard stuff to chuck up the deuce.

President and Sister Morgan had the Westchester zone over for waffles in between general conference sessions. #NumNums

Soooooo how bout that General conference this last weekend? I wish I could sit here and type up this huge long paragraph about all the talks that I loved so much from general conference but honestly they all blended into one, huge, 10 hour session of inspiration from the Spirit so I don't remember too many specifics but I'm excited to download them all on my iPad and watch them again.  

Elder Tyler J Johanson

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Become As A Child


Scarsdale is the Provo, Utah for Jews. It's Jew central here and their New Years, Rosh Hashanah started this last week. All the synagogues are bumping here. The bad news is they still don't wanna listen to us. The good news is they all seem to be in a happy mood. 

We extended a baptismal date to our investigator John. He has had a couple dates in the past that have come and gone but he has been living all of the commandments and making the changes necessary for baptism. He is very excited for it, so are we! Baptisms in this area are hard to come by and he has been a blessing. 

Well folks, general conference is this Saturday and Sunday. General Conference is the super bowl of Mormonism and you should all watch it. I wasn't the best back home at paying attention to conference. I should have. Amos 3:7 says, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." If God wants to tell His church something He is going to go through the prophets. If you want to hear God speak to you I invite you to watch conference. You can bet your bottom dollar Elder Uchtdorf will probably mention airplanes. Can't wait!

This last week Elder Burton and I had to go to the hospital for a doctors appointment he had. When we showed up there was security blocking the entrance from the lobby to the rest of the hospital. They weren't letting anybody in for anything, even the staff. They said they had a "situation" going on. Some people said it was a "fire drill" which was obviously a cover for something else. They wouldn't let anybody in for 40 minutes or so. I was shocked at how impatient people were being. We overheard people cursing to their friends on the phone. I heard one lady say, "If I don't get in soon I'm going to end up like Joan Rivers...Dead!" Another woman said, "This is going to mess up my whole ENTIRE month!" I was thinking, really? You waiting here for 30 minutes is going to mess up your WHOLE entire month? Amidst all this chaos, I counted one single soul out of 60 or so people in the room. That person was in the form of a little child. This little kid was laughing and enjoying himself. Nobody wanted to be waiting in a hospital but I'm sure the hospital was one of the last places that kid wanted to be too. It made me remember Mosiah 3:19 where it talks about how we have to become like a child. Children are smart lil fellers. Take a look and learn adults!

Love y'all!

Elder Tyler Johanson