Mar 7, 2015

01/26/15 A Week of Faith

So this “Week of Faith”, as I’m calling it, didn’t work out too well. I think as I’ve already explained, all of our amis have disappeared. Their phones don’t work or they have moved away without leaving a single trace. That means that every day we fix a plan of houses we will pass by and simply hope that they will be there – most of the times that doesn’t work out!  I think in total we had 9 lessons this week. Yeah, pretty low. And the worst part is its dry season, which means it’s SO hot out here, and we spend most of the day outside walking from place to place. Seems like I’m in for some hard work until the end.
Flipping through my agenda I’m not seeing any crazy stories or lessons that we had. So instead, I’ll tell you about some cool lessons I learned. One important lesson that I’ve learned from my experiences this week – making and acting on plans is important. The reason I say that is because this week we attended Branch Council. I should explain, that lately the branch has had too many problems. One could say it’s “dysfunctional”.  As missionaries we’re trying to work hard with leaders to kick it into gear – and that’s why we went to branch council – to help with the plans that the leaders are making. Now to give the setting.
In the new building there is no electricity, so no wall fans or air-conditioning, and as previously explained it’s dry season, so it’s hot. Well the meeting starts late and everyone is a little on edge to begin with. We spent an hour and a half listening to people complain and murmur and do all manner of things other than making plans to fix problems. Conversations went like this: “Ohh, this church is so disorganized, all these electrical problems. Why do we have to be in this building!?”; when they should’ve gone like this “Ok we don’t have electricity, Brother --- will you please call temporal affairs and inform them of our problem.”
Another conversation went like this, "We don’t have our manuals for 2015!  Your leaders (branch presidency) are so unorganized. Where are our manuals?" Well if you were listening you would've heard the missionary couple say that the manuals have been at the airport since October 2014!  BUT the government isn’t releasing them from customs. So what do you want us to do?"  These kinds of conversations really didn’t lead anywhere.
So that’s why I said, I learned that making and acting on plans is so important. How can you ever fix problems when you don’t make plans?  It does no good to simply talk about problems. Like the expression goes, “don’t cry over spilt milk.” That lesson even applies to us as missionaries. For example, I said at the beginning that none of our amis are available (problem), and to fix it I need to make plans. The plan that came to mind was something that Elder Ballard told missionaries, talk to at least 10 new people every day. So there we go, I’ve got a plan – talk with 10 people on the roads a day. Now the hard part is following up and accomplishing the plan; which is what I’ll be working on this week!

Another experience that I had was, learning to accept correction. The assistants came to visit us this weekend, which is a first for my mission - thus far, I hadn’t ever seen them in person. From the get-go I was not a fan of the senior assistant. Just the way he acted and talked with other missionaries wasn't working for me. Well, Saturday we hold a meeting and basically it was a meeting to remind us of all the things we are doing wrong. Ohh boy, can’t wait to go to that one! haha

We were asked, why we aren’t writing full in-depth reports to the mission president. Being totally honest, I raised my hand and said, well I get the impression that the president doesn’t even read what I write. So if he doesn’t care, why would I write him a full on report? Now, in my head that was a flawless argument haha. Then this senior assistant responded (remember, I’m not a fan of this dude). “Elder Johnson, the mission president isn’t obliged to respond to what you say, but it's your responsibility to write him a report of your progression!”
Critical hit to my pride - and in front of all the other missionaries - even worse! I sat there for 10 minutes or so, thinking that this meeting was pointless. But then, I was reminded of something Elder Oaks said in a general conference, "It's time we stop thinking about our rights, and start thinking about our priesthood duties." I remember underlining that in the magazine and thinking, ohh that's nice advice - then storing it away for some later time. And that is when I realized - "Hey Elder Johnson, you really need to give better reports to the president, after all it is your duty, even if he doesn’t respond."
Well, humbly I internally admitted that the assistant was right and resolved to do better. Definitely a hard lesson to learn, no one ever wants to admit; yeah I am wrong. But correction is necessary to grow. Especially when the spirit confirms that you need to change.
Well that’s a bit of what I’m experiencing with the work out here. It was good to get an update from all you guys. Sounds like everyone is doing good stuff! Let the siblings know I’m proud of all their recent achievements and successes. Keep working hard in the family and I’ll keep you posted on my progress out here. I love all you guys!

One the new church building. It's kinda hard to get a good picture because there isn’t a lot of space between the house and surrounding walls.
And two, the Basketball court at the American school! I called Jim, and he set up a time for us to come play. So Monday night around 7pm we got to play some sick games of b-ball! Jim actually knows a lot about the church, apparently he played church ball as a young 18 year old.