Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wet Noodle


I love being a missionary right now! I just have to say I love my companion Elder Judd. It's so nice when you have a companion that's more than just a stranger that you're asked to work with. I consider Elder Judd not just a companion but a friend. I consider him a homie. 
Elder Judd and I steady mobbin on our Mormon Mobiles
Don't even think about stepping into the bowling rink
when we are in our matching bowling jersey hustle
Transfers are next week. This Saturday is when we get "Shot Calls" to find out who is going and staying. I'm expected to stay with Elder Judd, but you never know.

Sunday was the primary program. The kids of the ward did unreal! Since our ward is English/Spanish the kids would sing one verse in English and the next in Spanish. It takes skills to sing in different languages, just ask Josh Groban or Enrique Iglesias. If Randy Jackson from American Idol were in attendance he would say," S/O to all those primary kids steady mobbin in the Middletown Ward. That was the best program of ALL TIME! Yo, yo, yo, I say one billion quadrillion triceratoptillion percent YES. You dawgs are going to Hollywood!" Seriously tho, these primary kids are good.

Saturday was the ward temple trip and we got permission to go. Elder Judd and I rode down with a member named Brother Hearn. Once at the temple we got to feel of the peacefulness of The Lord’s House. It's been 6 months since I've been able to go (which is a decent amount in this mission). I was hoping to do an Endowment Session. Instead, we helped do confirmations which was a good experience too. Of all the things I've experienced in New York, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, the bums on the street... The temple is without a doubt my favorite thing about the city. Covenants >>>City Life

Zone conference was this last weekend. There was four zones that attended our conference. The whole conference was great. We started out talking about Jesus. Then President did a Q&A, oh my word he is going to be a general authority. I swear by it. President Morgan was able to give some of the most Spirit inducing answers I've ever heard. The bad news is during the zone conference he switched the rule for music, now we can only listen to EFY and Motab.... :( it's going to be so hard. I thought the rule before was already hard enough. It will be ok tho because EFY has been stepping up its music game the last couple of years.

In the afternoon part of conference we were split up into 10 groups. They gave each group the assignment to create a 5 minute video on the IPads about why we believe in Christ. We were given 2 hours to create the video. Most of them turned out pretty good. It was an innovative way to declare why we believe in Christ. Zone conferences are always the cat’s pajamas. 

Elder Judd and I teach a member in the ward that has been inactive for many many years. Missionaries have gone over there for months and will share with him a quick message about Jesus, or a rundown of what they talked about in church. He has appreciated it but more than anything I think he has just liked the company and the missionaries have liked his company so he doesn't really progress. We love the guy but it didn't seem to be going anywhere. We decided to start teaching him the lessons like he was a new investigator that new nothing about the church. We taught him about The Restoration. The spirit was strong as we testified. We asked if he remembered praying about Joseph smith when he met with missionaries 15 or so years ago and he said he hadn't. This man was baptized and never had a testimony of Joseph Smith! No wonder he is inactive. We invited him to pray about Joseph Smith and last night we met with him again. He explained how he felt so good and peaceful when he prayed. We explained that the feelings he had were The Spirit. He said that he had never felt anything like it. It was awesome to help this guy who we love meeting with feel the spirit for the first time. Btw, he offered us coffee and we had to tell him that it was against the word of wisdom. He had never felt the spirit, didn't know if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and thought it wasn't against God’s commandments to drink coffee. I wanna slap whatever missionaries baptized him with a wet noodle. Anyway, next lesson we are going to give it on the Book of Mormon. I will keep you updated. 

Remember how I told you we were meeting with a Buddhist guy that is in training to become a monk? Yeah? Well we went back there to the monastery again and we had another good lesson with him. The first time we met with him we went on a walk through the woods and had one of the deepest discussions about faith. This time when we met with him we talked about how to get in tune spiritually. Our conversations are interesting.  He will explain how he gets in tune spiritually. He said that it is through meditation then he proceeded to teach us how to meditate. Then we taught him about how we pray, which is a practice he was somewhat familiar with because he grew up in a Christian household. Whenever we talk, we have the coolest conversations. It always gets really deep. I'm not talking that we get deep into doctrine or anything like that but we get deep in the basic doctrine like faith, or prayer. We taught him about the Book of Mormon, gave him a copy, and invited him to read it. We are pretty confident that he will because finding out the way of life is basically his only way of life at the monastery. Haha. When we were conversing he said something that I thought was sick/poetic, he said," God isn't something to be believed in or not believed in. God is something to be experienced." I will end my letter right now and let that one bake your noodle.

Have a good week.

Elder Tyler J Johanson

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Dead Cat's Pajamas

Hey Guys, 

Finna jump into this email. 

I had the opportunity to go on a split with my zone leader, Elder Neuerberg, in his area. The zone leader’s area just so happens to be West Point. As in THE West Point Military Academy. It was a really cool experience to be able to go on post as a missionary. Missionaries aren't allowed to proselyte on campus so it is hard for them to find work. They can't even wear their name tags on post unless they are at a members house or attending church. We had the opportunity to go eat dinner at the house of a member in their branch who currently serves as a Sergeant. It was mostly dark when we were driving around so it was hard to see stuff but it was cool to see the buildings, the history, and the football stadium (even if their team is terrible). It was a great split, a unique opportunity. Now I can say that I shared The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ at West Point Military Academy. 
West Point Military Academy
Wanna know the best part about doing service as a missionary? You get to wear normal people clothes. We have been doing soooo much raking here for service. We rake for somebody different almost every single day. My arms are dead as I'm typing this. We have raked about as many leaves as there are Rocky Movies.

One of my favorite families in this area, the Lennons, had us come over to their house and help them out with some stuff. One of the things we did was shuck walnuts. You heard that right, we shucked a walnut. Who does that??? At least in Highland, Utah nobody does. It was the cats pajamas tho. They come in a tough outer skin, like an avocado. We had to slice em open and get them walnuts out. It was kinda therapeutic. Shucking walnuts is definitely my favorite chore now. Mom: anytime you need some walnuts to be shucked, I am your man!
Working hard shucking walnuts
One day this last week, early in the morning after we had just woken up, Elder Judd and I got a phone call. It was a woman that the sisters work with. Turns out her precious cat had died earlier in the night. She was obviously pretty shaken from this event. She was calling because she wanted us to come and bury her dead cat in her backyard. We agreed not because burying dead animals is our favorite activity, but because that's probably what Christ would do. 

When we got to the house, she had fled. But her husband was there. The cat was laying in the front room stiff as a board in a cardboard box. Upon the wife's request we clipped five whiskers off the cats face so she could save them for remembrance. (A custom that she does with all of the cats she has had that have perished.) Then we proceeded to put the stiff cat in a pillow case and take it out to the backyard where we started to dig a hole. They are a pet loving family and have had many animals over the years. The problem with keeping things in your house that live is that they eventually stop kickin' and they die on you. That is the case with this family. They had a cemetery for all the animals that they have owned that have come and gone.

 Elder Judd and I dug a hole right next to their last cat that died. When we dug the whole approximately three feet deep (so the birds wouldn't get to it) the husband picked up the dead cat and walked over to the opening of the grave. He said a prayer over the cat then asked us if we could say some things. Elder Judd and I looked at each other. We had no clue what to do, for this was a unique opportunity that had been presented. Neither one of us had had a cat funeral before but apparently this is how they go. So, I said a prayer over the cat and the family to be comforted in this harsh time for them. We then covered the cat up and placed rocks over the grave to mark the spot. It was a good experience. It was definitely the best cat burial I've ever been apart of, hands down, no questions asked, nothing even compares.
This cat needed 10 lives. #RIP
Lately I have been gaining a testimony of how God prepares us for things. On Monday during district meeting the training was on receiving revelation through prayer. The whole week before I had been studying in preparation. Later Monday night when I was on the split at West Point with Elder Neuerberg, we taught their investigator and she was having problems with building her testimony. Every need she had related back to the training earlier that day that Elder Neuerberg attended as well. We were able to teach her the same exact thing we discussed earlier that morning. On my mission, I have been finding that stuff like that happens pretty frequently. God works in mysterious ways and prepares you for things in the future. Not that I like trials and adversity, but I've been learning that they teach me the things that help me to handle experiences that come in the future that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to handle had I not learned earlier. Everything happens for a reason! God has something in store for you.

Smell Ya later!

Elder Tyler Johanson

Sunday, November 9, 2014

It was a Crappy Week


Juss gonna jump right into this here email.

This week all 6 of us missionaries here in Middletown went and helped the sisters’ investigator with preparation for her garden. We drove out to a farm in the middle of nowhere and shoveled poop into the back of a truck to take back and use as fertilizer. It was a windy day so we had to shovel with our mouths closed, nah mean? Haha it was one of those experiences that if dad were to see me he would smile and say, "it will be good for you." After flinging 2800 pounds of poopies into the back of the truck we drove on back to the ladies house to spread it. Serving in this area I sometimes forget I'm in New York because, especially as I'm shoveling poop, it reminds me a lot of small town Weiser, Idaho. I enjoyed serving, but it was kinda a crappy job. Ay-Yo! 

Halloween was really, really ok. Any appointment we had fell through, so we didn't have much going on that day. Since we didn't have much, we borrowed some rakes and went and raked a lady in the wards leaves. Tried to make ourselves useful. All the missionaries had to be in our apartments by 6 pm. Right as we got home little (key word little, not necessarily young) trick or treaters were knockin on our door like crazy.  Unfortunately, as missionaries we celebrate holidays a lot like the Jehovahs Witnesses so we didn't even think to buy candy or anything to give to kids. Luckily, Elder Judd and I both got Halloween packages with candy so we dipped into our stashes to not disappoint the niños. In the time that we weren't playing a part in rotting children's teeth, the 4 and a half open hours of the night were spent.... Reading our scriptures..... 

The bishop had all of the missionaries over for dinner last night. Bishop Guzman (if you've seen the Mormon message "finding hope" about the 9/11 survivor that's my bishop) has a dog. We had just gotten done with dinner and were sitting around talking and Elder Judd started petting the dog. I thought I would give the dog a friendly pet so I started rubbing it. I continued to pet it for a little bit and realized that the dog felt strange. Turns out I was not petting Bishop Guzmans dog but I was petting Elder Judd the whole time. Haha he didn't even say anything. I guess you could say that Elder Judd and I have been getting pretty close lately!

I had one of THE most unique experiences this week. Elder Judd and I were at the very northern part of our area called Pine Bush. There isn't much work in Pine Bush and we had about an hour before our next appointment. We whipped out our handy IPads, checked the area book and were able to search for people in Pine Bush. There were only two people. One of them was the guy we were about to have an appointment with and the other was a potential investigator from a couple months back that I guess they never got in contact with to teach him. We made the decision to look him up and started driving to the address with the phat beats of Alex Boyé on smash. We drove on a long, windy road through thick forest for a solid 15 minutes. The address took us to a Buddhist Monastery that was up in the "mountains". There were little cottages with addresses on them so we decided to give it a shot. We got out of the car and we see an Asian woman in a long brown robe give us a funny look. We walked up to her and asked her if she knew where this guy was. Confused as to why we were there she pointed to a cottage. We went over to the cottage, knocked on the door, and a really tall guy that was whiter than I was opened the door. He identified himself as the man we were looking for. He was dressed in a brown robe just like the Asian female. He got a leather jacket on and put on his Joseph Smithesque farmer hat with a feather and asked if we wanted to walk. We walked with him on trails through the forests and we talked about Buddhism and God. We had one of the deepest discussions on faith that I've ever had on the mission. This man was very spiritually in tune. Amongst all this, I never thought once that it was strange that I was talking to this tall white guy with a long brown robe on, feathered hat, in the woods on the grounds of a Buddhist monastery. It was very interesting. The best news is that he said we could comeback!!

Hope yall have a good one.

Elder Tyler J Johanson

J Chillin in Middletown