Jun 24, 2013

06-24-13 Week 6 of 6 in the MTC / Time for Africa!

This week has been one of excitement as everyone in our district has been preparing to leave. There are 3 missions we are all heading to as a group: Paris France, Lyon France, and the DRC.  My companion Elder Brockbank, and I are the only ones left to leave. And we just cant wait to get out there! So all the pictures I have been sending are pictures with my district, as those are the people I am always with. When I start taking pictures in Africa I'll be sure to include names and stories. I also received all your packages and letters so thank you!
Happy Birthday to Maya! (my little sister) I hope being a 13 year old is exciting, welcome to the teenage years! I love you, Maya. and all that you do for others and within the family.

There are a few exciting stories this week. So the first one will be spiritual because thats what a mission is all about. I learned from several experiences that God really does answer our prayers. Some nights I'll pray for an opportunity to serve others, and the very next day I will be asked to host missionaries or give a blessing or as crazy as it sounds, clean a building. Some nights I pray for a learning experience and the next day my patience will be tested, and I learn something valuable from that. And there have even been some nights where I pray for all of you, and I am later informed that blessings have come your way. My testimony has grown knowing that prayers are heard by a real being, but more specifically they are heard and answered from our Heavenly Father.

On Saturday night I was able to meet our new Mission President and his wife, the Cooks!  They are a wonderful couple from Utah and they are just as excited to go to Africa as we are. The very first thing Sister Cook did when she saw us was try to give us a big hug.  (haha) As missionaries it was somewhat awkward because we've had it drilled into our heads, Only give hand shakes to women!  But Sister Cook insisted, saying, "I don't care what the rule is - I hug my missionaries!"  As Elder Leavitt was hugging her, he looked at our Mission President (her husband) and said "Please don't send me home for this."  Our Mission Pres. and his wife are truly great people!  In them, I saw the same feeeling we have: they are more then excited to go to Africa, they have no clue (like us) of what to truly expect, and they are nervous but that doesnt phase them.  They are ready to work and love the people of Africa - as are we!

Last night I was privilaged to participate in the World Wide Broadcast by singing in the missionary choir.  But earlier that day it was a bit hectic.  The number of missionaries allowed to sing were 1100.  And about 1300 showed up to practices.  The problem was obvious and so the choir director told everyone in an MTC combined sacrament meeting (church meeting) that some would need to be cut (and although he explained that those who weren't ready would be cut - we all knew it was going to be a free for all). Now, my companions and I had attended every single practice and performance for the past 6 weeks and we practiced memorizing the song on our free time and now we were told that we might not be singing. You can imagine the tension we felt and everyone else felt. So when it came time to walk to the marriott for rehearsal - things got chaotic. Missionaries literally ran all the way to the Marriott Center in suits to get a seat. And at the doors people were pushing and shoving to get in. Security had to check every companionship one at a time - because the apostles would be in attendance.  So as me and Elder Lago stood in a massive crowd in the sun, where everyone was upset and competitive, we decided to try something. We felt the spirit wasn't there (there was a feeling of contension and frustration) and so we began to "shush" as loud as we could until eventually, the crowd was completely silent.  Then Elder Lago and I commenced singing Hymns. In the end all 1000 missionaries were singing hymns as we waited to get into the Marriott. Contention fled and was replaced by a spirit of unity and love for missionary work. The devotional was amazing and the rest of the night went great! But it all started with two missionaries trying to sing "We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet".  I guess the lesson to be learned is no matter how insignificant you think you may be - always try to bring peace to others even if it's by "singing" your heart out.  Make an attempt to be valiant and brave in preaching the gospel.  President Monson said you will never know how great your influence for good will be.

These are the best stories I have from the week. I love all of you. Keep up the good work everyone and go "sing your heart out" in school, at the skate park, or on an airsoft field, at work, and home. I will email you again from Africa as soon as I possibly can! 
Elder Johnson
Note: (Julius included the note about the airsoft field for his Big Bro Ferious, and the skate park for his little Bro Kaleb).