Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mind Blown

Wed, Jul 29, 2015

Wut da?
To all the Mormons in the place with style and grace, 

Pioneer Day was this last week. The missionaries in conjunction with our Ward Mission Leader planned an epic ward party to celebrate the glorious little brother of the Fourth of July. We have been planning this thing for almost three months now.  We had it set up like a county fair, which I've actually never been to but apparently they are a big thing out west? There was food out the wazoo, competitions for a chance to win a blue ribbon, games for the kids, square dances and performances, and then to end it we had certain members from the ward tell their conversion story and tell how they were pioneers in their own life. Highlights from this:

-Tons of members showed which is a big deal here. 

-There was a solid number of less actives and investigators there. Great for fellowshipping. 

-They played Michael Jackson over the speakers :)

-The arm wrestling competition. They made me and my companion Elder Wallace duke it out. It was the most intense arm wrestling match I've ever been apart of. It was in front of the whole Ward. People were yelling, biceps were almost tearing, I think I heard someone swearing. Just kidding about that last one. It was a close match. Elder Wallace won.... But it's ok cuz he is from a small town in Idaho. They are bred for that kind of stuff. I have no shame. 

Arm Wrestling Competition for the Ages.
Moments before my companion embarrassed me.
-I won the blue ribbon for the best photo! 
The photo that won the blue ribbon. 
Johanson's get ribbons. That's just what we do.
-The young men and the missionaries performed the Haka. We have an Elder here named Elder Pulu who is Tongan so he taught us. It was cray. Call me that one kid from Forever Strong. 

Shot Calls are coming up this Saturday. I'm guessing I might be out of here but you never know. I have come to like change as a missionary, it keeps me on my toes. At the same time the work here is incredible. There are some great people here. It would be hard to say goodbye if I am transferred elsewhere. I will give you the juicy details next week. 

In district meeting this Monday, I had the blessing and privilege of attending the Spanish district’s district meeting. It was on prayer. We read through the talk "Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer” by Elder Richard G. Scott. I've studied this talk multiple times before but something about reading it this time around blew my mind. Right off the bat, he says, "Prayer is a supernal gift of our Father in Heaven to every soul." We talked about the definition of the word "Supernal" and it means "relating to the heavens or celestial". 

Dood. If prayer is a celestial gift and we know that God dwells in the Celestial Kingdom then we know that prayer is our link between this Earth life and the potentially eventual Celestial home we can have. If it is a gift from God then that also means that He didn't have to give us prayer. He chose to so we could receive guidance and aid. Can you imagine how much more difficult life on Earth would be if we couldn't communicate with our Father? God could have given us tough love and been like, "Hey niños, I'm gonna send you to Earth. I'm not going to let you talk with me and ask for help but don't worry you will get the hang of it." But no, He didn't do that. He prepared prayer before the foundations of the world to be used as an aid to us. Prayer is our tool for understanding eternity. The thought of prayer blew my mind that day. 

"He has created numberless cosmos and populated them with worlds, yet you and I can talk with Him personally, and He will ever answer." -Elder Scott

You guys rock. 

Elder Tyler J Johanson
Am I hardcore yet?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hotter than a Box of Rocks

Wed, Jul 22, 2015

Hey Everybody,

It's been hotter than a box of rocks out here. The thing about the city is that the heat doesn't just come from the sun up above. It gets you from all directions! You can feel the heat radiating up from the pavement and from the buildings as you walk past. The humidity doesn't help either. I think God was trying to teach me to not complain this week though because every time I wanted to complain about the heat we would pass a Muslim lady completely dressed in black with the black head covering and everything revealing nothing but her eyes. After seeing that I was like, "Well ok then. Cram it Elder Jo. Yes you're wearing a collared shirt and tie, but at least you don't have to wear one of those." I'm gaining mad respect for the Muslim ladies out here.

Last P day was one of the more exciting P days of my mission. Elder Wallace’s sister sent a list of movies filmed in New York City, so we went around Manhattan seeing the sites that have been in movies. We ran around getting selfies with every site we could even if we hadn't seen the movie. I have pictures of me with stuff in movies from Ghostbusters, BIG, The Day After Tomorrow, Godfather (I haven't seen it mom. I promise.), Home Alone 2, Spider-Man, and a bunch of other places that I'm too lazy to write out right now.  Good times.

My favorites were seeing the famous Plaza Hotel from Home Alone 2 the one that Macaulay Culkin stayed in when he played Kevin.
"I'm going to give you to the count of ten to get your ugly, yella,
no good keister off my property.." #HomeAlone2
We went to FAO Schwarz the Yuuuge toy store that is in Home Alone and Big and a ton of other movies. It was actually the famous toy store's last day in business at that location, so it was crowded. There were news reporters everywhere and huge lines. Elder Wallace and I got asked to be interviewed by a news reporter when we were there, but we didn't know if that was Kosher so we had to turn em down. 
You wanna hate? Have a nice time.
Then to top off the day we went and ate at Joes Pizza Place which is the Pizza Place that Peter Parker worked at in the Spider-Man movies. It was a pretty good slice. The only bad part is that I expected Tobey Maguire to feed me my pizza out of the palm of his hand and that didn't happen at all.

I went on a companion exchange with my roommate Elder Michia. Elder Michia is from Argentina. I love going into the Spanish program on exchanges! After that split with Elder Michia I have now gone on enough splits in a Spanish area to total one week in the Spanish program. That doesn't mean that I know how to speak the Spanish language yet. That just means I'm really good at saying "Si" and nodding my head and calling myself a gringo. It was a good time. No rice and beans were eaten in the making of this companion exchange.
Me and Elder Michia
Elder Wallace and I were knocking an apartment building the other day. We were having no success. The only person that had answered the door the whole building was a Muslim man that we couldn't even communicate with because he only spoke Iranian. We literally got to the last door and knocked on that thing and guess what? Nothing. Nobody answered. Just as we were about to walk away a woman came out of the elevator and was super friendly to us. We started talking to her and she said that she has a Nephew who is serving a mission out in Utah! She was saying that it must have been a sign that we showed up. She invited us to come over to teach her and her boyfriend. She promised that she would feed us too :) God always pulls through, even if it's last minute.
Two of the coolest girls named Daniella and Joy
who moved from our Ward this week.
Youth like this give me hope for the youth in the Bronx.
This gospel is incredible. I know we hear that as members of the church all the time. The gospel can fix and improve parts of our lives that nothing else but the gospel can. #TeamGospel

Elder Tyler J Johanson


Wed, Jul 15, 2015

Pip pip Cheerio my exquisite lads and ladesses,

This week consisted of a lot of service. On Friday we helped a couple move into the ward. It's cool because they are moving from the New Rochelle Ward and since I already served there we already knew each other. It was one of the trickier moves that I've been involved in. 

Here's the dealio... They are moving into the top floor of a home that is already owned by the wife's parents. The wife's parents lived on the top floor already and needed their stuff moved from the top floor to the bottom. They had a heaping spoonful of large items to move downstairs the problem is that it's an old and tight cornered house. 

We couldn't for the life of us get their couches and their bed out of the upstairs doorway. After struggling with it for a while and throwing out multiple jokes about how it would be easier to just toss these large items out the window and get them down that way, the member decided to do just that. We took out he windows and the screens, tied a rope around the couch and the 5 of us that were there lowered the couch down out of the window. We used that same technique with the bed haha. I guess that is how you do a move in New York.

On Saturday we had the privilege of helping a member build a shed in her backyard. Yes, I said backyard. Backyards are a very rare thing around these parts. Even though her "backyard" was really just a small piece of land covered with rocks it is still considered a backyard here. 
Shed Raising Selfie

My experience building that shed was a lot like how I imagined a good old fashioned Amish barn raising. There was a bunch of men there erecting a structure and stuff. #ManlyActivities the member is from Guyana and she fed us some spicy food from her native  Country. I was almost convinced that day that I should go AWOL from the mission and run away to Pennsylvania and join an Amish community. Almost...
Raising Sheds like the Amish Raise Barns
I was asked to speak at church this last Sunday. I was given the topic of the third article of faith. My studies for the last 3 weeks or so have been focused on the teaching so of the third article of faith and I've been learning a fair amount. The third article of faith says, "We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." My talk was focused on how ridiculously amazing the Atonement is in our lives and how it is through obedience that we can tap into the power of the Atonement make he Savior and His love a reality in our lives.

I used an analogy that Brad Wilcox once used:

"Christ's arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. How many know what I am talking about? Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice.

If the child sees Mom’s requirement of practice as being too overbearing (“Gosh, mom, why do I need to practice? None of the other kids have to practice! I’m just going to be a professional baseball player anyway!”), perhaps it is because he doesn’t yet see with mom’s eyes. He doesn’t see how much better his life could be if he would choose to live on a higher plane.

In the same way, because Jesus has paid justice, He can now turn to us and say, “Follow me” (matthew 4:19), “Keep my commandments” (John 14:15). If we see his requirements as being way too much to ask (“Gosh! None
of the other christians have to pay tithing! None of the other Christians have to go on missions, serve in callings, and do temple work!”), maybe it is because we do not yet see through Christ’s eyes. We have not yet comprehended what He is trying to make of us."

Obedience is how we show our appreciation for Christ. Our job isn't necessarily to "pay Jesus back". Our job is to appreciate the amazing gift he has given us by using it through obedience to the commandments. 


Elder Tyler J Johanson


Wed, Jul 8, 2015


I hope your Fourth of July was on point!
This iz me bean me in frunt of a flag thingee
 My fourth was good. It kinda just seemed like another day tho. There wasn't even that many American flags up or anything. I guess that's what happens when you live in a place where most people are immigrants. The Puerto Ricans and Dominicans used the Fourth of July to party pretty hard. But they use any day as an excuse to party pretty hard. Loud music into the wee hours of the morning. The Bronx went harder for Puerto Rican day than they did for the Fourth of July. It makes you wonder sometimes if there are any Puerto Ricans actually still left in Puerto Rico. It's all good it's just different from Utah. Good times. Good times.

Funny Story: In my almost 8 months that I have spent in the Boogie a Down Bronx I have only managed to step in dog poop twice. This week happened to be one of those times. Dogs=1 Elder Johanson=0. The worst part is that we went into the Waterman's (The senior couple) home and I tracked it in all over their living room.... My bad haha.

Friday we had Mission Leadership Council with President Smith. He is amazing! He is full of energy and enthusiasm for the work. He got hype. For MLC each of the zones put together a presentation about the unique things of our zone. Of course we included things like:

1. Sisters can't go in the south part of the zone for safety reasons.
2. The sisters in our Ward have a ginormous amount of work because they be scurrying around the area tryin to teach all the single mommas.
3. The work load never ends. The potential here is crazy.

After our presentation we presented a gift to President Smith. We got him a du rag. Now President Smith has a scarlet colored du rag he can sport around the mission home or whatever. The assistants got back to us a couple days later and they said he looked good in it.

After MLC we all hopped on the Metro North train and headed to the Bronx for the Yankees game. It was a blast being able to see the whole mission. I love the friends I have made out here. 
With love from the boys. Please notice my ex companion
Elder Judd acting trill with the cap in the background.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang a song or two and the National Anthem. It was nice.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir on blast 
Then we watched some baseball. Elder Rasband was at the game so we were able to meet him. The only bad thing is that we had to leave at 9 o clock just when the game was getting good. Turns out the game went 12 innings and the Yankees won with a walk off home run. It's all good though because I wouldn't have wanted to maneuver our way back home through the Bronx at 12 am.

Our Zone has what we call the #MenAreThatTheyMightHaveJoyGoal. Spread it. Hashtag it. Get that stuff trending. The goal is that every single day in the month of July we want every companionship to place a copy of the Book of Mormon, read Moroni's promise and extend the invitation to pray about it. One a day may not seem like a ridiculously crazy goal, but it definitely adds up. The goal is that we will place 225 copies of the Book of Mormon this month. It's been exciting and motivating to get out there and spread the most true book on the face of the planet with Gods niños. 

Elder Wallace and I have seen many miracles already from this. Most of them came at the very end of the night when we haven't been able to pass any out all day and then God blesses us by letting us come in contact with a prepared individual. Last Wednesday aka P-day everything that we had that evening cancelled on us. We decided to go tracting until we passed out a copy of the Good Book. We tracted for two hours and nobody wanted anything to do with us. Our area has a lot of Islamic people. They live in pockets and we just so happened to be in one of those pockets. 

We had about 15 minutes left before we had to go home so we decided to knock a couple more doors. We knocked on a door..... Nothing. Went to the next one and a bunch of teenagers who seemed like total punks answered. It felt like they were waiting to make fun of us, but as we ended our little spiel and asked if they would like a copy of the Book of Mormon three of them wanted one! We were able to talk with one of the girls on her porch for a little bit. She is Hindu and said her mom wouldn't approve of her talking to us so unfortunately for the time being we won't be able to go back but she said she would read! It wasn't a fake,"yeah I will read....." Nah she was legit about it. 

It's funny how it seems that God waits until the last possible moment to give you what you're asking for. I had to laugh with God a little bit that night. Like, why He gotta be like that? Nothing can come too easy. There always has to be a lesson involved with every thing that happens in our lives.

I know every missionary talks about how amazing the gospel is and all that stuff and it kind of just becomes expected buuuut seriously this gospel is amazing. There is nothing I'd rather be doing at this point in my life than by being able to serve Christ in this capacity.

Elder Tyler J Johanson

O Canada

Wed, Jul 1, 2015

How now brown cow,

I want to wish you a happy Canada day this week! It's such a great opportunity that we have as Americans to celebrate the freedom of such a vibrant and commendable country like Canada the first week of every July.

President and Sister Morgan have officially been released and are now in Utah. Sad day. On the same note President and Sister Smith have arrived with their family from Keller, Texas. Yesterday we had a meeting with them where we got to meet them. They have 3 kids, 2 daughters who are 15 and 13, and a son who is 11. It's a little weird now that there will be kids living in the mission home but it's exciting as well. 

The Smith’s are the cats pajamas! President Smith does Iron Mans and stuff. He is Yuuuuge. Seriously tho. After they had introduced themselves and President Smith was talking I had a feeling of love for this family. They have sacrificed so much to be here and although it must have been hard, they are ecstatic for this opportunity to serve. I have never had such a feeling of instant love like I did with the Smith’s. Never have I come to love somebody so quickly.

It has been hot and rainy lately. When you hear of "hot rain" you're all, "Oooh hot rain. Sounds exotic like you're journeying through the beautiful Brazilian rain forests." But nah. In the Bronx everything gets wet and sticky and smells even funkier. #DownsidesToServingInNy

I'm stoked for this Friday because the mission is going to go to the Yankees baseball game. The Mormon Tabernacle choir is singing the national anthem and apparently there will be general authorities in attendance whatever that means. #PerksToServingInNY

This week Elder Wallace and I were in an appointment with some of my favorite investigators. They are 4 brothers. I mentioned them last week. The 7 yr old named Junior made one of the best apologies of the priesthood I've ever heard. We were talking about the Restoration and the need for priesthood authority. These guys have the best questions ever! They had the question, "If you aren't living righteously does someone take away your priesthood?" That led us to D&C 121.

Within D&C 121 it states," the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man."

Basically the priesthood allows us to tap into the powers of heaven. When we live unworthy of it, it's not like some dood comes and takes away our priesthood but it is as if the heavens close themselves off from us. We aren't able to tap into the powers of heaven. 

After hearing that explanation Junior was like,"Ohhhh so what you're saying is that the priesthood is like Thor? His hammer is there but if you aren't Thor you can't pick it up. Not just any guy can walk up and use the power of the hammer. If you're the right person though you can be very powerful." And then I was like,"Dood that analogy was on point." The way these young kids we have the blessing of teaching can apply the gospel to real life is Radink to the Hinkulious.

Have a great Canada Day this week everybody!

Elder Tyler Johanson

Just Like Popcorn

Wed. June 24, 2015


Shot Calls went down this week and I found out I'm staying with Elder Wallace in the good ole Boogie Down Bronx. I haven't gone more than one transfer with a companion in about a year, so this is going to be weird. It will be good tho because the work is popping. Call it Orville Redenbacher. 

Onto other news. Somebody somehow stole the info for my missionary support card and they've been spending all of my money on fast food. It kind of stinks because I am now living on a steady diet of tic tacs and government cheese, but hey, if there is a starving soul out there in the streets of the Bronx at least I was able to feed his belly this week. I was doing my "good turn for the day" as the Boy Scouts say without even realizing. #JoinTheNest

We started teaching a buck family of boys. Their mom is a member in the Spanish Ward. There are 5 boys. The 2 oldest are baptized, but they are less active and the other 3 are not baptized. They're all teenagers except the youngest who is almost 8. We went over for a first lesson yesterday and the questions these kids are asking are unlike any I've heard before. They are all perfect. They were saying certain things like,"I'm pretty sure that there was one true religion at some point but they must of got all messed up. Now we just don't know which is the right one." They are the cats pajamas. I'm excited to work with them in the future. We call them "The Fantastic Five".

Today was transfers and it was a hard one. Today I had to say goodbye to many friends, past companions, and President and Sister Morgan. 
Me and Momma Morgan
President Morgan looks a lot less intimidating with those leis
around his neck. Thank goodness.
President and Sister Morgan have truly altered my testimony of this gospel for good. I'm especially grateful for the time I had to serve in his Ward and then also serve close to him in the office. Seeing the gospel in action like that was incredible. They are spiritual giants in my eyes.
With 3 of my companions and an Asian Kid
You know that saying that talks about how a picture is worth a thousand words? Well I hope that's true because I don't have a ton of time to email today so this email is short. Sue me. Haha sorry. 

Have a good one!

Elder Tyler J Johanson