Wed, Aug 19, 2015
I had the opportunity to go on a companion exchange with Elder Unice from Pleasant Grove, Utah. His area is Hunts Point. Don't look it up on a map mom. :) Elder Unice is a great guy, but we both agreed that it was a loooong and hard day. It was hotter than a box of rocks outside. All of the appointments we had set up fell through which led us to do finding literally the whole day.
To top it off, toward the end of the split we were on our way to the train when a shirtless man, wearing a purple wig, with Bonos sunglasses, and a Tupperware container full of beer approached us. Yes, I did say a Tupperware container full of beer. He stopped us on the street and started asking us what we knew about Jesus. We tried to give a short and sweet explanation so we could get out of there quickly because 1. We were running late and 2. I've been in enough weird situations during my almost 10 months in the Bronx to know that nothing good comes of crazy situations like this.
He then started telling us that he knew everything about Jesus because he was Jesus Christ. Side note: if I had a dollar for every time somebody told me they were Jesus I would have a pretty fat wallet. The crazies here just like to talk on and on and on, so you have to eventually cut them off and leave. I cut in while he was talking about the crusades or something like that and told him we had to go. I asked his name and he said,"my name is Blessed." In my mind I was thinking,"That's weird cuz I thought you said you were Jesus." We bid him farewell. As were were walking away he kept yelling at us that we weren't Christlike because we weren't taking time to help those in need.... *sigh* I don't know how many more of those situations I can take.
We are teaching a guy named Damien. His wife Arlene was baptized in February. They have become good friends and the progress they have made is immense. I've had the opportunity to start teaching Damien from the very beginning. At first he wasn't really interested in religion at all. Now he has a baptismal date for September 12. The thing about being a missionary is that just because we have the tag on and are supposed to be the ones "teaching" doesn't mean that we don't get taught too. Damien and Arlene both said things this week that made me think about life a little differently.
Arlene said that in her Puerto Rican family they used to have a saying that translates into something along the lines of, "God squeezes but He never chokes." Meaning that God applies pressure sometimes. He turns up the heat a tad and wants us to react in a way that is consistent with the truth we already know. He will allow us to have trials and temptations but He will never give us more than we can take.
I've been learning from Damien too even though he isn't a member of the church yet. Damien has some Word of Wisdom issues that he has been dealing with for years. He has been doing really good lately and weaning himself off of these things that are holding him back. His key? Every time he feels tempted to break the word of wisdom he prays and then he goes and he holds his baby daughter. Love is stronger than any craving or addiction. It made me want to do better for whenever I'm tempted to think of those I love who would want me to make the right decision.
We felt like we needed to go look up a woman that we met a few weeks back. It's actually kind of cool how we met her. We were knocking an apartment building. Nobody was answering as usual even though you know they're home. We knocked on her door and nobody was home, but as we were walking away she was exiting the elevator. In talking to her we found out that her sister is a member of the church and her nephew is a missionary out in Utah. She told us she wanted us to come back because we reminded her of her nephew.
Anyway, we felt like we needed to go look her up because we haven't been able to have contact with her since then. When we showed up to her apartment she answered the door and was in tears. She could hardly speak to us. Through her sobs she told us that she was 4 months pregnant. She was looking forward to the birth of her first child, but she was going in the next day for surgery to terminate the pregnancy because the doctors had found that there was severe complications with the child. Earlier that morning for studies Elder Wallace and I had both studied about the question of the soul,"Why does God allow pain and suffering to occur?" This woman was obviously in deep spiritual pain, suffering from heartbreak that no pill or medicine could cure. The only thing that would/will be able to cure it is The Atonement of Jesus Christ.
We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon, directed her to read 2 Nephi 2, and testified of the plan that God has in store for her. We couldn't go inside because she didn't have another male there, but we prayed with her in the doorway of her apartment building. The spirit was there in abundance. The Holy Ghost testified to me that Heavenly Father had sent us to go looking for her at the specific time. How cool is it that when this woman needed the comfort that only Christ provides, God sent His disciples? I'm humbled and grateful that God trusted us enough to send us there. Nothing in life feels more satisfying than knowing that you obeyed a divine prompting. Nothing.
My life is good. Reeeeaaal good.
Elder Tyler J Johanson