Friday, January 1, 2016

The Finale

December 30, 2015


This week has been crazy. Crazy awesome. Crazy busy. Crazy. 

Christmas was amazing! It started with Christmas Eve. We went caroling with a family in the ward to some of their neighbors and friends. They were totally serious about it. They had us go over and practice with their family before hand so we could sound good. They were giving us a pitch at the beginning of every song like we were the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or something. We weren't nearly as good of singers as I think they initially thought we were but it was still cool to be able to brighten people's Christmas. After that we went back to their house and they fed us dinner and we decorated Christmas cookies. 

Christmas Day was unreal. In the morning we woke up and had a conference call with President Smith where he talked about Jesus and stuff.... I realize I'm being super vague about it but I promise it was good. After that we opened up our packages that had been sent as we pretended it was Santa that shipped those bad boys to us through the U.S. Postal Service.  
Christmas Morning with the Crew
Then we headed over to a family in our ward named the Ailleries! The Ailleries are the sickest. They feed the missionaries a lot and it is their tradition of taking a picture every time. You might've seen them tag me in some stuff on Facebook. 

Then after that skype. Skype was trill. Always was. Always will be. 

Skyping the Fam Bam while nibbling on a Lunchable. Welcome to the good life!
Later in the evening a family in the ward had us over for Christmas dinner. They fed us filet mignon and lobster and a bunch of other stuff I can't pronounce. They went hard in the paint with Christmas dinner that's for sure. It was an amazing Christmas. 

On Monday Elder Casela and I were able to meet with a family in the ward. It was a pretty good lesson. The spirit was present. Nothing too out of the ordinary though. At the end of the lesson we asked the famous,"Is there anything we can do for you?" That question rarely if ever gets a response and sometimes I think we say it rarely ever thinking they will ask for help with anything. This time was different. The father told us that his only daughter who was 4 had been giving them a hard time lately. She wasn't in a good mood. She had been giving the parents a hard time. She was having a hard time herself. The father asked,"Could you give my daughter a blessing? I don't know how. I've been inactive for so many years and it hasn't been until recently that I have come back. I remember my dad doing it but I was never taught." 

Instead of us giving the blessing ourselves we offered to teach him. We pulled out our white handbook with the directions on how to give a blessing and went over it with him. We then held the white handbook out so he could look off of it if he needed while he layed his hands upon his daughters head and pronounced a simple, but beautiful blessing on his daughter. It was one of the more humbling experiences I've had being able to witness a father that we had just taught give his very first blessing to his troubled daughter. The spirit was strong. I could tell the father was feeling it. I could tell his wife and daughter were feeling it. It was a very neat experience that I'm grateful the Lord let me be a part of. 

With this being my final week in the mission I have been feeling an array of emotions. One moment I'm excited. The next moment I'm torn about leaving here, NY and Connecticut the place that has become my own personal "Waters of Mormon". I had my exit interview with President Smith this week. Before that interview I was feeling that array of emotions I mentioned. Being able to talk to President Smith about everything really calmed me. I was able to walk out of the interview with only the excited happy feelings of returning home. At the end of the interview he asked me if I would like a blessing. This was probably the best blessing I've ever received. So humbling. Exactly what I needed. The craziest part was as he was getting ready to close out the blessing he paused for a couple long seconds.... And then to finish he quoted a line almost word for word out of my patriarchal blessing. It was nuts. It caught me off guard and I realized then that the spirit really does play a huge role in priesthood blessings. 

Two of the most beautiful priesthood blessings I've ever witnessed were given in this last week. 

Well folks. I come home in two days on January 1st. I'm so excited. I can't wait to see you all in person. 

I could sit here and write my testimony on this iPad until my fingers would fall off. So I will keep it short. But just know that even though it is short I type with all the conviction that one can possibly type into a touch screen without cracking it. I know my Savior lives, He is closer to us than we realize. One of the reasons I came on this mission was so that I could in a sense pay the Lord back for all he had done for me. Over the course of these two years I have never been more aware of how indebted I am to my Savior. I will never be able to pay him back. The beautiful thing about it is that Christ never expected me to pay him back. He just wanted me to appreciate the gift he has given me. I'm eternally grateful for the things the mission has taught me. I'm coming home and big surprise..... I'm not perfect yet. I'm not. Just cuz I will be an "R.M." In two days doesn't mean I will be. But I now know how I can more fully keep my covenants. I love the Lord. He is my best friend. 

See you in a quick minute! 

Love you. 

-Elder Tyler J Johanson

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