Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas on a mission...

Christmas on a mission is a lot more odd then anything else I've experienced. Getting nervous to hear the voices of my parents was an odd sensation. With Christmas this week, we had a mission-wide Christmas party where all the missionaries were able to get together. We did some skits, white elephants, and then snuck in a spiritual message at the end so it could be official.  But, of course, the highlight of Christmas is hearing my mom’s voice.

 As for mission work this week… it slacked. We didn't really have a full day till Friday. At that point we went around talking to our investigators seeing how Christmas went. We did go give a blessing to a lady in the hospital from Hawaii. She was getting taken off life support the day after we saw her. It was a very unique experience but very powerful as well.

During studies this week, I was studying all of Christ's gifts to us. They are honestly a countless number! But the one that really stuck out to me was his first gift that we received… our agency. Lucifer presented one plan and Christ presented another. The only difference between those two plans was in one we would have agency and in the other we wouldn't. I often don't like having agency. It means I can’t blame anyone for my mistakes. Some of the hardest times in life are caused by a choice we have to make. God himself wept over our agency but he understood we needed it to progress. That is what I am most grateful! I am grateful for the agency I have every moment of everyday.

-Elder Johnson

A sketchy part of my area. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

This past week has been full of blessings...

This past week has been full of blessings. It will be a short email because of the limited time I have today. But this week we had some awesome experiences. One specifically was… we went to give a blessing in the hospital to a "less active member." Turns out she was a ex member who got excommunicated 20 years ago for acting on some homosexual desires. She has been with a woman for the past 14 years and has 4 kids. They got married a year ago. This woman now has a desire to get baptized. So we talked to her how she cannot be living with her wife to get baptized again. We told her she has to pray and ask God for herself.  She promised she would. 2 days later we went in to talk to her and say goodbye (she was being release from the hospital). During that appointment she said she prayed and received an answer and is now looking for a single room apartment. 

Yesterday, while knocking we knocked into a single mom who let us in (always a shock, were let in maybe 1 every 200 homes). We went into the home and got talking. She was talking about how she has a good Mormon friend who went on a mission but has really gone off the deep end. He’s now homeless, drug addict etc. The day we knocked on her door she was clearing out all his stuff from her home and came across a lot of "Mormon stuff" (patriarchal blessing, book of Mormon, oil etc.) We answered a lot of questions. She had really felt that a lot of things have been adding up and pointing her toward our church. Then we knocked on her door. So the moral of the story is that God is real. Love you all.

-Elder Johnson

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I have a new appreciation for this season of year...

The weeks really seem to be blending together. I have a hard time discerning what happened last week and the week before that. 

As a mission we have been using this #heisthegift #sharethegift, during this whole Christmas time. It's really quite cool. It really is just nice to share the message of this first gift to everyone... to let people know how blessed we all are no matter what circumstances we celebrate Christmas in. A lot of our area is very poor. It's a place called "hilltop" (Google it to find more). So being able to share a message that doesn't cost anything but can bring joy is very, very special. As a zone, we went caroling last night. It was odd how much more people liked us when we were caroling! haha We had a lot of fun.

As a ward we have a man named brother Dyer over the elder's quorum.   We meet with him 1 or 2 times a week to discuss mission work as well as potential elders in the ward. We were told by him that, this time of year, people really go into "survival mode." People don't focus on trying to be happy or anything. They just want to stay warm and dry. So it could be a hard season to get into people's home. But i know that with faith and the works we do, things will work out for the best. 

I have a new appreciation for this season of year with my life revolving around Christ. The season is just  another reason to share it with everyone. Although miles away from home, it gives me comfort that this 2 years is the longest time in all of eternity I will be away from my family... whether its my parents or my future family. I won't ever have to leave them agian. I hope everyone can have this blessing.

-Elder Johnson

P.s. sorry for no pictures this week forgot it at home today

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I think I might start be getting a hold on this whole mission thing...

Success seems to come in waves on a mission. One week we might see lot of good stuff going… new investigators, good lessons.  Then the next week they've dropped us and were back to finding. It’s difficult to find out these patterns and hard to find how to just have success.

This weekend our Stake did an open house nativity in which we decorate the Stake Center with Christmas stuff and have countless nativities all around the building. (http://tacomanativity.com/) People can come look around and feel the spirit. Me and elder Lacasse were able to get a non member family there who invited friends too! We were able to go in as a big group and had a really nice time. I really think they were able to feel the spirit in the church house. Super cool experience.

The veil is so thin around children. This week we were called into the hospital to give a 2-week-old little girl a blessing. She was having breathing problems. The moment we walked into the ward with 10 or so infants I could feel that burning in the heart like nowhere else. I had never felt the veil so thin besides the temple. How great a blessing to go there and serve God.

I do love it here. It’s a great blessing to serve and to suffer some trials for my Lord.  I think I might start be getting a hold on this whole mission thing. Maybe.

-Elder Johnson

The picture is of Elder Lacasse and me during studies.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I have really been able to find out what I am thankful for...

Thanksgiving as a missionary sure meant a lot more to me. I have really been able to find out what I am thankful for, what I miss, and what I don’t want to lose.

On Thanksgiving Day I was able to go have a big turkey bowl with a bunch of missionaries from 2 zones. Seeing how it rains all day, everyday here… it was very muddy and made good memories.

Afterwards a family who lived in Hawaii for many years had us over for dinner. We had some traditional Hawaiian dishes along with the traditional turkey dinner. It was very nice to be over with them. They have kids our age. It almost felt like I was home. Ha!

After that we went to another dinner at a recent convert whose name is George and Alice Twiggs. They are about the same age as Grandma and Grandpa Johnson. They have always taken really good care of us. Overall it was a nice Thanksgiving and made me really appreciate my home and my family.
The work has been going well. We go through investigators here quite fast. A lot of people want to hear about the gospel and have a desire to come closer to God.  But they do not have a desire to change their way of life. So if they cannot keep commitments we offer and do not come to church, we cannot help them and must move on to find someone who will and can change.

Studies is a great part of my day. I absolutely love doing my studies. I love finding things. I can’t explain. In our gospel searching for hours just to find an answer. It’s so, so satisfying and one of the largest testimony builders in the world.

I am so very grateful for eternal families and for the fact that these 2 years is the longest time I will be away from my own family. I am so lucky to have this gospel. It is heartbreaking seeing people turn away these truths we share. I am blessed.

-Elder Johnson

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Just Soothing...

There is always so much going on here I don't know what to write about all the time. Things are going well. We are teaching a boy (16) whose name is Topaz and he’s a really good kid growing up in a bad neighborhood.  He has been reading the Book of Mormon and says he has really good feelings about it.  But he has some question about it so I asked what they were. He just said that it’s nothing I could answer… just soothing. He understands he has to work out for himself.  So keep your fingers crossed that all goes well with that. 

The mission set some really high goals this week when it comes to numbers.  President said if we made those goals we would be able to go to transfer meeting even if we weren't being transferred. Luckily the mission were all able to go to transfer meeting! These meeting might be the most spiritual meetings I’ve been to. The power of 250+ missionary's coming together is out of this world! 

Elder Kleine bore his final testimony and it was heart wrenching to have to say goodbye to him.  What a great man who taught me so much in 6 weeks. I hope to be able to see him after the mission. The version of amazing grace that is sung in those meetings is something I would like everyone to hear and experience. So powerful. 

For Thanksgiving tomorrow we will be going over to a recent convert’s home named George and Alice Twigs, an older couple.  So I don’t feel bad intruding on their Thanksgiving dinner. We are having a turkey bowl tomorrow between our zone (Tacoma East) and Tacoma West zone. I am exited for a fun day tomorrow and giving thanks to the new friends I’ve made these past 4 months.

I hope everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving and stays warm. Tacoma is a beautiful place right now… always wet. haha Love you all.

-Elder Johnson
Tacoma (Stadium Area) Elders

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I have really big hope...

The weather warmed up this week. Thankfully we were on foot so we appreciated it very much. This past week not much happened. With it being the end of a transfer we had a lot of set lessons and a lot less time spent towards finding people.

I really enjoy teaching people but when the lessons fall through it can be frustrating because then we have an hour of empty space that we need to find out how to fill. But when we have all the lessons filled in and they all work out, it is the best feeling in the world.

Loti did not get baptized. Her sister is still missing and she was having some medical problems. So pray that happens this weekend. She really is such a sweet women but it seems like Satan is just trying to get in her way.

There are a few families we are teaching right now and I have never had the opportunity to teach a family. It is really cool because I feel that we do less teaching and more of just directing a discussion and keeping people on topic. I have really big hope for the two families. I don't know if I will be able to see them become converted but I think in time they will.

Yesterday we were in Walmart shopping for the week and this big black lady come up to me.  She starts telling me thank you and how much I helped her.  I felt so bad… I had no idea who the heck she was. I looked like an idiot!  I got talking to her and she was someone who I gave a blessing to in the hospital over a month ago. She had just had open heart surgery and asked for the elders to give a blessing. So I showed up with elder Larson. It was really cool to have her recognize me and thank me a month later.  

Anyways, I am doing well. Transfer calls are this Saturday and I’ve been really praying to stay here so I can hopefully see some fruits. Christmas is this next transfer and I’d like to be somewhere where I’m familiar with it all.
-Elder Johnson

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The mission is more for me than my investigators

The weather here is starting to cool down it seems like the world knows its time for fall. We are very blessed to have a car. I do enjoy the cooler weather compared to the heat though.

Unfortunately we did not have the baptism on Sunday. Loti’s sister went missing Saturday so Loti didn't make it to church. Still no sign of Loti’s sister yet. We did meet a really cool family this week who we are visiting today and really hoping to put on date soon. The first lesson went really well. The mom of the family is named April and she really reminded me of my mom… but not nearly as great. We have 2 baptisms this weekend so I hope they go through. They should, no reason why they wouldn't.

As for yesterday, we had zone conference. There were 4 zones that came together. We had a training from the AP's, President Blotter, then Elder Snow who is the church historian. It was really good. What I was really able to take is that I need to be more bold asking my investigators for commitments and I need to show and tell them how these commitments will help them. The moment Elder Snow walked into the room the spirit hit me hard. What a blessing to be addressed by him.

I am very blessed to be here on a mission. I often think the mission is more for me than my investigators. I know through all the trials I endure on a daily basis I will grow and I would not be able to grow this much any other way. I know as soon as things get easy here I will stop growing and that is the last thing I want. This church is true no other church has the fullness of church therefore does not have the authority. I know not all will be well till Christ comes again. I know it’s not far away. I often joke about how I hope Christ comes soon so we don’t have to endure any longer. This is all worth it. Every moment is. Every moment I want to come home is still worth is. I love Christ. He died for me. His atonement is infinite and I choose to use it.

-Elder Johnson

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

rain rain rain rain...

rain rain rain rain... It won't stop raining here. I've never been this wet in my life. It was the 3rd week of the transfer and things have gone well. For Halloween they lock up the missionaries and we have a zone meeting. Then it is followed up by a movie! We watched The Best 2 Years and I realized how much I really don't miss movies. It was odd.

This past week I have been reading Joseph Smith’s journal. It has been really cool to read into the daily life of this great prophet. What inspired me to read it was a talk given in general conference about how there will be more and more rumors about Joseph Smith. So I decided to read it and learn for myself about his life through his own eyes.  It’s a really cool experience.

As for investigators, it’s been really discouraging to see so many potentials fall through. Elder Lacasse is really discouraged with having no baptisms yet in his mission. But, I know that the mission isn’t about baptisms but planting seeds. If I see them grow into trees and produce fruit then all the sweeter for me. But I know I am out here to invite others to come unto Christ. It’s hard to not see the results sometimes. I got word of another investigator I taught in Bremerton being baptized this week so that’s nice to hear.

There is someone here. Her name is Loti and she is supposed to be baptized on Sunday. But the ward will be using the font so we are going to see if we can baptize her in the Puget Sound. It should be a really cool thing. I hope it works out. Loti really needs the gospel and she’s worthy to have it. I don’t think she realizes how much she needs it. I hope it all works out.

We got word of Elder Snow, former church historian and now part of the First Quorum of the 70 will come talk to us (Wa-Ta mission). I am really exited. We have been told by President Blotter to prepare as though Christ is coming. So I am really looking forward to it.

I will hopefully have pictures next week. I love you all and hope you are all well.

- Elder Johnson

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I guess we've hit that season or something...

Stadium Area Elders: Johnson, Marsh, Bagley, LaCasse
Hey! Its been a great week. I am really enjoying all the Elders in the Stadium area. We're all really young and it's nice to be around boys my age. This past week we did a lot to find investigators and we were able to find a lot. One of the investigators is a single mom named Awa. She is from the Ivory Coast and is such a sweetheart.  I think there might be a little bit of a language barrier but I think she is understanding the basics and I know she feels the spirit. She reminds me a lot of Charles Abouo in Logan.

This week is Halloween so the mission is having zone meeting that day so we stay out of the streets. I dunno what to expect but I am exited haha. It has kept raining here. I guess we've hit that season or something. The nights are getting cooler and I am really enjoying that. Last week we had the car so this week we won't be able to drive. I am really enjoying my mission. I feel like as long as I am busy I don't miss everything to much. And I've been able to run in the morning so that makes life a lot better. I think I might have been a little physically addicted to it haha.
hot rods punch

Elder Johnson, Elder Lacasse

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The results of a seed being planted...

This week is going well.  I am loving training and working hard. Elder Marsh's new companion is a runner from Rich High School so we have been getting up at 6 and putting in miles. It has made a huge difference to be able to run again on a regular basis.

As for new investigators, the Stadium area (me/my companion & Elder Marsh/his companion) got a lot of new investigators this week. All together we got 26 so I am really exited to have so much going on in our area. I look forward to to the rest of the transfer.     

We had stake conference this week and it was really spectacular! It was a lot different then one's back in Utah.  Here they really stressed missionary work and member missionary work... how we, as missionaries, assist the ward and how the ward should do the mission work itself 

I also found out that 3 of my investigators in Bremerton have been baptized this past month. So that was really a boost of confidence to see the results of a seed being planted. 

I hope all is well in Utah, Hawaii, Idaho or wherever your all at. I love you. Thank you all and God bless.

Elder Johnson

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Transfers and Trainers...

Transfer meeting was yesterday. It went very well. It's always some of the most spiritual highs I get on my mission. I am training Elder Lacasse. He is from Florida and I think we will get along very well!
Tacoma Zone

It has started to rain quite a lot here. Things are going very well.  My new companion... he seems to want to work hard so I am exited to get stuff done. This week I found out that 2 of my investigators from Bremerton were baptized. So that is very nice to hear and realize things are going well for those people I love.  In the Stadium area there are 2 sets of missionaries. I have been serving with Elder Marsh (Annie's brother) and he is staying in the area.   That is nice. We do get along pretty well.

After the zone lunch
Anyways, I don't have much to say.  I miss you and I hope to have more to say next week. I love and miss you all.

Elder Johnson

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tacoma East Interviews and Zone Meeting

One of the blessings of being a parent of a missionary in the Tacoma Washington Mission is the fact that President and Sister Blatter like to take photos.  Not only do they take a lot of photos, they post those photos on the mission blog.  Here are some photos of the Tacoma East Zone Meeting held last Wednesday, October 8, 2014.  Guess who is in them?

Thomas Elder Johnson and his companion, Elder Larson.

The Tacoma East Zone.  October 2014


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Time to relax and take in the words of our leaders...

The past week has gone really well. The weeks have really started to blend together and seem to just be flying by faster than I can remember. I have never appreciated General Conference more than I did this past week. It gave time to relax and take in the words of our leaders.

Although... the stake center we watched the sessions at was 9 miles away. We had to bike there.  It made for a weekend of very unproductive missionary work. One of my most favorite talks from the conference was Elder Klebingat. I felt he said some very great doctrine in a way everyone could understand it.

As for the week itself, it was not bad. There is an investigator we have by the name of Debbi.  She's called an eternal because she's been an investigator for years but has never been able to get baptized because of her husband.  This week we were able to put her on a date for the end of December.  So that was very good. Just cross our fingers it all works out.

This Saturday is transfer calls and I am hoping to stay here in Stadium with Elder Larson. Hopefully I can see some results from the work that I've been put in here. I also have a interview with the Mission President this Wednesday that I'm looking forward to. It's just a regular interview he tries to do every other transfer.

Yesterday I was able to go fishing with a member in the ward. We went to American Lake. It was absolutely beautiful. It was super foggy the first few hours but cleared up later. In the middle of the lake is an island where people live. They park on the edge of the lake then take a boat over to their homes. I can't imagine how expensive it is though.

Anyway, all is well here. I love the area and I'm hoping for it to get cooler here as well. It rained for a day but hasn't rained since.

-Elder Johnson

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This area is amazing!

There was a fireside last week. I wish you could have been there. It was really beautiful. It was a fireside in which the missionaries sang some hymns and some recent converts bore testimony. By the end it was near to impossible not to feel the spirit. We had an investigator there with her husband and child. It was a really big step because the only reason our investigator hadn't been baptized yet was because her husband won't let her. He's too scared she will "run away with Mormons" if she joins.

Monday 22
We had p-day.   Elder Larson bikes by me as I went for a long run. Then we went and played basketball and soccer for a few hours. After that we went and played card games. We went knocking from 6-7 pm. (p-day ends at 6) After that we went to the hospital, gave a blessing, and visited with some people in the hospital.  This is the view from St. Joseph's Hospital:

Tuesday 23
We sent an email home. After that we walked back towards home and stopped at the park for contacting and knocked on some potential investigators doors. Later we went knocking and then more potentials.

Thursday 25
The mission had a great opportunity to go to Zions camp! It is pretty much the USU ropes course with gospel principals applied to the courses we did.  It was a lot of fun. That same day we saw "Meet the Mormons," the movie coming to theaters this weekend. I think it was a really well done movie. I'm impressed the church is able to put it into theaters.

Friday 26
Elder Larson had some member friends come down from a previous area and they fed us lunch and we had a very enjoyable day with them. They have 4 young boys. We played with at the church.

Those are all the major things that happened this week. It's been a good week. This area is amazing! I couldn't think of a better area! There are so many cool things and so many humble people.

Stadium High School Area:

A Sunset a Few Nights Ago I took Riding My Bike:
On the dock down by the rich part of our area:

A view from the park near the dock:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I Felt Even More Blessed to Be Part of That Miracle

This week has been rough. Both me and Elder Larson got a bad cold/flu last week. We were not able to work as much as we had liked to. We are both getting better though not fully up to speed. But a lot better. 

Cool story of the week... last Saturday we were told to go give a blessing to a small boy who had e coli. We were able to go give the blessing and talk to the parents for a while (who are non members but one of their moms is a member and asked for us to give the blessing) Anyway, we left thinking no more of it. Two days after the blessing we got a call from the grandma and parents of the boy thanking us for giving the blessing. Apparently the boy got e coli from this ham sandwich that he and his buddy shared.  His his buddy got e coli as well but ended up dying in the hospital from it. The whole incident was in the paper and on the news. The family was very grateful for what we had done and I felt even more blessed to be a part of that miracle.

As of right now we have only one really solid family as far as it comes to investigators. Her name is Julia (38) and Metri (13) Sam (8). They are such a wonderful family and I really hope they are able to get baptized and come unto the gospel. Please keep them in your prayers. 

As I mentioned before, we cover downtown Tacoma and we meet some very odd people. I really wish I had more time to look at all the history in Tacoma. It is amazing how many old churches and buildings there are. One of my favorite places in Tacoma is Stadium High School. It looks like Hogwarts and the football field is right next to the sound. It is a really beautiful place. I'll send some pictures of it.  i took a lot of pictures this week and was exited to send a lot today. But I brought the wrong cord with me to the library! Sorry! i'll have a lot of pictures next week

This is my old zone. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

We See God's Hand at Work...

I am sorry I haven't been able to write people back but I will in time.  Expect emails on Tuesday now because all of Tacoma is closed on Mondays. I have no idea why, they just are.

I have been placed in the stadium area which is downtown Tacoma. It has some very sketchy areas which is why sister missionaries are not allowed in our area. The people here are very humble and much different then Bremerton. In Bremerton, people were just crazy and poor. The people here are just crazy, poor, and desperate for help.

Two hospitals are in our area, both the Tacoma General and St. Joseph which means we get calls daily to go over to visit people in the ER and rooms. We give at least 2 blessings a day and each time we see God's hand at work. it is spectacular to see God perform things through us that are impossible. There was one time that we went and gave a blessing to a women who just had open heart surgery and could not breath on her own. We gave her blessing and then she was able to breath all by herself. The doctors could not explain it but we knew it was God performing his work.

I miss Elders Kliene and Anderson. I don't know how I got so close to them so fast. Elder Larson is very good at talking with people even more so then my old companions. The ward here is a lot stronger than in Bremerton, but very poor. The bishop is busier than any bishop I've met. He served in the Army, ran college track and xc, then coached the University of Pudget Sound in xc to take 3rd at nationals. The picture is of me and Elder Larson at the bishop's home with his very loved, live size replica of Jar Jar Binks.

Don't send packages to me here or letters with anything valuable. Please send those to the mission office where it will be safe.

-Elder Johnson

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Transfer: Bremerton to Tacoma

Yesterday was labor day so I couldn't get on the computers. I'm sorry to cut this short but I'm going to transfer meeting then to my new area so I only have a few moments.

I am going to the Stadium Ward in Tacoma. It is on the east side. My companion will be Elder Larsen who I have heard good things about.

I am very sad to leave Elder Kleine and Anderson. They have been dear friends to me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Lesson Got Turned Around...

Note from Thomas' Parents:  
We moved on Thomas' p-day.  When we left Logan, we did not know where we would be living in Laie, Hawaii.  Thus, Thomas didn't know where to send mail.  Also, in a hand-written letter last week, Thomas talked a lot about the abundance of Blackberries.  Thus, the photos this week.

From Thomas:  
The week has been good. I was going to send a letter... but I don't know where to send it.. haha. I have a few stories in that letter but here is another.

There is this family in our ward, the Wee's.  They are a very active older couple who has a grandchild who is about 25 who's not a member and has investigated the church before. It always ended up with him kicking the missionaries out of the home.

They came up to us this past week saying they wanted us to talk to there grandchild again (Jeremy).  Not knowing what was going to happen Elder Anderson and Kleine sent me and Elder Reidhead over. We got in to his home he was very defensive and not the most happy we were there. But we were able to sit down and invite the spirit and the lesson got turned around. All went well and we left the house with him asking if we could come back another time to learn more!