Sunday, October 25, 2015

Take out the Trash

Wed, Sept 30, 2015        

To whom it may concern, 

This is an epistle that contains the events and impressions from Elder Tyler Johanson for the week dating from September 23, 2015 A.D. to September 30, 2015 A.D. Elder Johanson is a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, New York, New York North Mission, United States of America, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy. 

The work: This week the work was hott. Like, I was extremely attracted to missionary work. Elder Buckley and I decided to go hard in the paint, and the Lord blessed us. We were able to set 4 baptismal dates. Good times. 

Companion: I found out two very important things about Elder Buckley. The first is that he loves Twitter. I'm not saying you have to have Twitter to be cool, I'm just saying that all of the companions that I have had that used Twitter pre mish have been the cats pajamas. The second thing that kind of correlates with the first is that his nickname is "Young Buck" which works out better than Richard Simmons in his prime because I am TJYoungBuck. It's like he is my long lost Twitter twin or something. 

Miracle: I went on a companion exchange with my district leader Elder Tabor. Elder Tabor is from Hemet, California. He does powerlifting so he is YUGE. So huge you have to say it with a Y. I have never felt more comfortable walking through some of the sketchy areas in Hunts Point than I did when Elder Tabor was at my side. On our split we taught a lesson to a man named Bean. That's not his real name, but he works as a chef down in Manhattan and he goes by "Chef Bean". We just call him Bean. This was his first lesson with the missionaries in the Bronx. He was being taught by the sisters in Manhattan but he moved to the Bronx. He explained to us that he has been on a search for peace in his life for years now and he hasn't been able to find a church that offers him continual peace. He's tried out Catholicism, Seventh Day Adventists, Buddhism, Jehovas Witness. Nothing has been able to feed his spiritual hunger.

We talked about the atonement and the spirit filled the room so intensely I probably could've pulled out a butter knife and cut it like butter. At one point tough guy, Elder Tabor had tears streaming down his face as he testified of the Savior. Bean, who is larger than Elder Tabor, and looks like he should be in a biker gang was sitting there mesmerized with tears also in his eyes. The Spirit was so overwhelming that Jesus Christ is perfectly aware of everything we go through that I couldn't help but shed a few tears myself. If somebody would've walked in they would have thought we were watching The Notebook and eating bonbons. We continued to teach and testify and then when the Spirit was at its strongest we ended. We walked him to the front door of the church building and he was stunned the whole walk. He could hardly say anything. We gently brushed him off and sent him off into the world. 

I can honestly say that that was one of the most powerful lessons I have ever been a part of. I'm incredibly grateful God placed me in the situation to witness such a thing. 

Thought: I have been pondering quite a bit on repentance this week. Growing up it seems like repentance is a negative thing. I know that's not the way leaders/teachers try to portray it, but it always felt like that the repentance process was a negative thing that you had to endure as the result of sin. My heart has completely changed from that fallacy. Repentance is an absolutely amazing thing! It's beautiful. You mess up and instead of continuing on with the guilt you feel, you have a chance to get rid of all of the garbage you are carrying around. Repentance gives us the opportunity to take out the trash. President Morgan always used to say,"The worthiest missionaries are those who are always repenting." We sin frequently so we need repentance frequently. If we don't repent frequently we let the trash build up. Repentance is not something to avoid. Repentance is praiseworthy.  Always remember that. 


Elder Johanson

Life is Good

Wed, Sept 23, 2015       


Last week I went to the Inwood Chapel in northern Manhattan. I dropped off my companion Elder Wallace, and received my new companion Elder Buckley. Elder Buckley is from Ogden, Utah. He is a cross country runner and is going to run for Weber State when he gets back. He is a powerhouse missionary. He is incredibly smart. He was called to speak Spanish but transferred over to the English program to my companion. He knows English, Spanish, and he has self taught himself enough Greek and Hebrew to read and understand it. He is honestly the most doctrinally sound missionary I've ever served with. Anytime we have super tough questions posed to us he can fire off an answer that you know is completely true.

For example we had two Jehovas Witnesses approach us while we were waiting for the bus and one of them went off trying to bash us. She only spoke Spanish so I had no clue what was going on, but luckily Elder Buckley knows Spanish. I couldn't understand exactly what he was saying but it appeared that the Spanish woman was trying to convince us how their religion was the right one because they knew that God’s name was Jehovah. Then Elder Buckley politely, but boldly told her and showed her in the scriptures, then testified. The lady got super mad not because of the way Elder Buckley talked to her but because she seemed flustered and embarrassed. We have had a bunch of tough questions posed to us lately and so I just turn and look to Elder Buckley haha. I'm grateful for him. Even though I have been here in this area for 6 months already he has helped me feel like I just got here. He has helped me get out of "going through the motions" and has brought passion back to the way I work. 

We started teaching a new guy by the name of Joseph. We just met him this last week and we have already had 3 solid lessons with him, and he came to church. He is an old but active Vietnam Veteran. He hates the war but loves to tell war stories. He comes from a family of Italian mafia and growing up he quickly realized that he didn't want to be a part of that so he became heavily involved in the Catholic Church, becoming a deacon. Long story short he was offended from some of the things that happened when he was in the Catholic Church and has been searching for the true church ever since.

This Sunday was his first time ever attending out church. He was nervous but very excited to see how it all works. He was kind of dreading the 3 hour services but he took it like a champ. He really enjoyed church and felt overwhelmingly welcomed. He absolutely loved it and is planning on coming this Sunday. Monday when we went over to his house he told us that he had been feeling very bad that day. We asked him why and he began to tell us something that had happened after he left church on Sunday. He said that on his way over from the church to his bus stop he saw three hooligans harassing an old man. They were trying to steal his cane from him. Joseph told them that they needed to knock it off. Instead of walking away and leaving the man alone they fired back some degrading and explicit remarks. Joseph didn't like that. Joseph didn't like that at all.

He proceeded to take off his suit jacket like a gentleman and then with one punch knocked the guy who talked back to him out cold on the Bronx floor. The other two punks ran off. Joseph began to cry because he felt so bad that he had decked this guy in the face. He called the police. The police arrived and told him that the guy he KO'd was actually wanted for multiple muggings. They thanked him for defending the even older man and let him go. Is Joseph not the sickest? Also we extended a baptismal invitation for October 24th and he accepted! 

I was reading a talk by Daniel H. Ludlow and something I read blew my mind: "When we lived with our Father in heaven, we did not need to exercise a fullness of faith in whether or not he existed. We knew that he lived because we saw him; we walked and talked with him. We knew he existed and were convinced of his existence, but we were not necessarily converted to him and to his great principles because our knowledge of him had come from external sources without virtually any effort on our part." When I read those words I couldn't help but feel how true they were. Sometimes people think that if they can figure out if there is a God or not that is enough. That's all they have to do. With this quote we learn that it's much more than figuring out if there is a God. We aren't exercising faith just to find out if he exists. We are doing all of this to become converted to our Heavenly Father. It's cool. 

Basically: The work is good, the companion is good, life is good. I almost got hit by a truck this week that went through a stop sign. Everything's good. 

Love you!

Elder Tyler J Johanson
Acting touch with my homegirl Sister Mona Lisa. She's the best!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Roll with the Fruit Punches

Wed, Sept 16, 2015                                


Sorry in advance but I don't have a lot of time because it is transfers today.

Shot Calls came this weekend. They are supposed to come Saturday night, but the Assistants straight up forgot to call us haha. They forgot about us. They called us Sunday morning and we found out then that I would be staying a fifth cycle here in Olmstead and getting a champ named Elder Buckley while Elder Wallace would get sent to South Manhattan for his last transfer. I was kind of in shock because I definitely didn't think I would be staying, but all is well in Zion. You know how what they say, "You just gotta roll with the fruit punches." Ok maybe nobody has ever said that but....

Olmstead Zone

Since I don't have a ton of time I will just share a crazy experience and a miracle with you. 

Crazy Experience: there is a park across the street from the church, and by "park" I really mean a small field of concrete with benches, and there is a group of homeless people that live there. The missionaries have gotten pretty close to one of the homeless people here because he is friendly and nice to the missionaries. He knows the church fairly well because he actually panhandled at Temple Square in Salt Lake for 2 years or something like that. He is a really friendly guy and loves the missionaries.

On Sunday a member who had some extra food at home decided she would give it to Robert (the homeless guy). She asked a Elder Wallace and I if we could give it to him because she had to run inside the church real quick. We agreed so we walked over there to a small group of homeless people and offered the food to Robert. He accepted and was very grateful for it. We swapped some small talk and as soon as we told him goodbye another one of the homeless guys comes riding up on a bike and yells,"Hey get outta here! This isn't a freak show!" Along with some other words I will not include. He then got off of his bike like he was going to fight us. It was funny cuz this is actually the same homeless guy that came up to us on the street a couple months ago in a drunken stupor and said that he was going to knock us out. When he started yelling that all the other homeless people in the group started yelling at him and telling him to knock it off. It felt kind of cool to have a group of homeless people have your back. Those guys are cool cats. 

Miracle: We got a media referral and so we gave her a ring and she said that she wanted to meet with the missionaries at the church. A couple days later we met up at the church and started talking to her and she said how she had a boyfriend who lives in Brooklyn that is a member and she was interested in learning more. We told her we could do that and we asked her if there was anything specific she was interested in. She told us that she wanted us to teach her all about the Law of Chastity. It was kind of a weird place to begin teaching her but she insisted so we taught her an impromptu lesson about the law of chastity and she loved it! I can't tell you how many times I have been heckled out here because of our Church's, or should I say Gods view on the law of chastity. But she loved it and committed right away to live the law of chastity. Like, who does that? Then she told us that she was going to see her boyfriend later that night and he told her he wanted to talk about the law of chastity with her so she wanted to learn about it before talking to him. Missionaries work with people for years and can't get them to live the law of chastity but she committed right away. I thought that was kind of a miracle. The sisters will be working with her now so hopefully it all goes good. 

Also last thing, if you haven't watched the videos that the church has released for the Addiction Recovery program I highly suggest you watch them even if you don't have an addiction or even know anybody with an addiction. There are 12 videos for each of the 12 steps of recovery. All you have to do is go to and type Addiction recovery in the search bar and then on the side click videos and they should have them. We get to help out with the addiction recovery program that is held every week here and to see how the gospel enables people to overcome their addictions is incredible. Seriously doe watch dem vids. 

Gotta go! Love yuh.

Elder Tyler Johanson

Fresh Courage Take

Wed, Sept 9, 2015           


Being a missionary is the cats pajamas. Y'all should know that.

Random stuff:
Shot Calls are coming up this Saturday. Possible changes coming. Or not. Who knows? God knows. 
My beautiful home for the last 6 months
 The mission just barely started to do a 100 day Book of Mormon read. I was in Ether...... Almost done. How could they do this to me? Ahhhhh. Jk. I'm excited to read the Book of Mormon again. 

We had MLC (mission leadership council) good times. I would put some of the stuff I learned but to adequately describe the stuff I learned it would take way to long for me to type it out. Sooo if you really want to know you can ask me when I get home.
With my homeboy, Elder Nagel at MLC
It's been hard work wise lately. We called some of our investigators to schedule an appointment and instead of saying that they were good to meet they told us that they are now homeless and living on the street. We went to the park that they said they were sleeping in but we couldn't find their park bench. It would have been nice if the park benches had addresses. It breaks my heart to hear stuff like this though. Seriously. I always thought bad stuff like this happened in the movies but when terrible things happen to those that you have come to love it is really hard. 

Experience time:
Elder Wallace and I were walking out of the church after a lesson and this hombre came riding up on his bike. He was wearing a fedora. Without saying anything he asked us right off the bat when church started. We told him the time and he told us that he wanted to check it out. He said that his whole life he had judged our church because he gave into a bunch of the rumors that float around about us. He went to the library and was able to check out the dvd "Meet The Mormons" he watched it and said that his whole perspective on our church changed. He felt bad for judging us all these years and wanted to give us a chance by attending our services.

The coolest part is that on Sunday he came! He even got up to share his testimony. It's always scary here when somebody that you don't know too well gets up to share their testimony because there is no guessing what is going to come out of their mouth. When he got up he shared a great testimony of how his perspective on our church changed and how he loved it so much and was going to come back. This guy is solid!

Elder Wallace and I were strolling down the street on the way from the church to our pad. There was a man walking the same direction to our right. As we began to pass him he turned over to us and out of the bleu cheese he asked us what our beliefs were. His name is Highness.... Yeah you read that right. He said that he lives across the street from our church and always sees missionaries coming and going, but he has never talked to them. We ended up having a lengthy conversation with him. We told him about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. It was a weird conversation because there was moments were it seemed like he wanted to bash with us, and then there was other moments where I wish we could have stayed and talked to him all day. I attribute that to his strong faith he has already built in Jesus Christ from his interpretations of the bible.

At the end of the conversation when we had to get going he said,"I have a question. Every time I walk by you missionaries I feel the Holy Spirit. For whatever reason I have never had the courage to talk to you. I can tell God really wants me to talk to you. I just want to know, if the spirit has been urging me to talk to you so many times, if it's that important, why has no missionary ever felt that same urge and stopped me?"

His question changed the way I view missionary work. It made me wonder how many times missionaries have walked past him and the Spirit has been prompting both the missionaries and Highness to talk to each other, but for whatever reason it never happened. How many times do you think that happens in our lives? Probably a lot. If you ever get a prompting from the Spirit don't delay it because you think it might be weird because the other person could very well be feeling the same thing. Don't be afraid, take courage. 

Love you!

Elder Tyler Johanson

Seems legit.


Wed, Sept 2, 2015

Oh hey there, 

I was able to go on a companion exchange with the one, the only, Elder Pulu from Oakland. "He's from Califooornia. He's a Californian"(Petey from Remember The Titans) Elder Pulu is a missionary that has been out for just 4 months and he is currently training a new missionary. It's been crazy to see how much he has grown from when he first entered the zone as a brand new missionary and now where he is training a new one. It was a refreshing split to be on because sometimes I lose focus. I forget how much this whole mission thing is changing me and I don't really see it until I take a step back and look at the ways it is changing me for the better. My time with Elder Pulu was a good step back. To see him so pumped about being a missionary gets me pumped up too.

Quick story of something that went down on the split. We went back to their pad for lunch and Elder Pulu who is Tongan and definitely eats like one said, "I'm going to make you the Pulu Special." Not questioning as much as I should of what exactly a "Pulu Special" was, I accepted it. He made me a hug plate of rice, with macaroni and cheese on top, huge chunks of spam, and "bread crumbs" on top. The bread crumbs were really just pieces of bread that he had torn up and threw on top. He laid the plate delicately before my bulging eyeballs as if it was a rose on a casket. "Eat up" he exclaimed. I was skeptical at first because it seemed a lot less like authentic Tongan cuisine and more of a meal he invented when he was at college, but I ate it regardless. It put a dent in my stomach, however it was actually a lot tastier than I thought it would be. 

We went bottle hunting again last P day. Got all muddy digging around there for antique bottles and stuff. 
Out there on our Bottle Hunting Hustle

What is my companion doing??? #GotHim

 Also I heard Kanye West is running for president in 2020? At least that's what all the kids are saying. Is this true??? Lolz. 

I was reading a talk that I got months ago from a missionary friend. It's a BYU speech actually. It's by Jeffrey R. Holland. It's titled, "The Bitter Cup and The Bloody Baptism". It's sounds really Catholic and a little scary but it is quite the opposite. The gist of the speech was that as members of the church there are going to be times where the heat is turned up a notch and the faith that we have built is going to be tested and tried.

My favorite part was when Jeffrey R. Holland talked about the "13th apostle" C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis was a popular Christian writer at the time his wife was diagnosed and began to slowly die of cancer. His faith that he had all over all these years was put to the test. C.S. Lewis penned:

 “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to [tie] a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it? . . . Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief. 
. . . Your [view of] . . . eternal life. . . will not be [very] serious if nothing much [is at] stake. . . . A man. . . has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses.
. . . I had been warned—[indeed,] I had warned myself. . . . [I knew] we were. . . promised sufferings. . . . [That was] part of the program. We were even told, “Blessed are they that mourn,” and I accepted it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t [agreed to]. . . . [So] if my house. . . collapsed at one blow, that is because it was a house of cards. The faith which “took these things into account” was not [an adequate] faith. . . . If I had really cared, as I thought I did [care], about the sorrows of [others in this] world, [then] I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came. . . . I thought I trusted the rope until it mattered. . . . [And when it indeed mattered, I found that it wasn’t strong enough.]
. . . You will never discover how serious it [is] until the stakes are raised horribly high; [and God has a way of raising the stakes] . . . [sometimes] only suffering [can] do [that]. 
[So God is, then, something like a divine physician.] A cruel man might be bribed—might grow tired of his vile sport—might have a tempo- rary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have [temporary] fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a [wonderfully skilled] surgeon
whose intentions are [solely and absolutely] good. [Then], the kinder and more conscientious he is, [the more he cares about you,] the more inexorably he will go on cutting [in spite of the suffering it may cause. And] if he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. . . . 
[So I am, you see, one] of God’s patients, not yet cured. I know there are not only tears [yet] to be dried but stains [yet] to be scoured. [My] sword will be made even brighter. 

It's been a little hard lately feeling like we put in a ton of hard work, effort all topped with tender love and care, and it is rarely reciprocated. That passage helped me out a ton this week as I was struggling a bit. Not that I didn't have a testimony anymore or anything, but I've just needed a little more faith to know that all that we work for is worth it. This work is most definitely worth it. I'm glad I've had little reminders of how great this work is through friends like Elder Pulu and C.S. Lewis. 

K. Bye. 

Elder Tyler J Johanson