Elder Brad Johnson is serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the ALASKA ANCHORAGE MISSION. This blog will include many of the e-mails Elder Johnson sends to his family each week. It will extend from October 6, 2010 to October, 2012.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Info on the Christmas Phone Call!!! Monday, December 20, 2010

Hi Mom,
Thanks for the letter and for sending my Journal. Thanks early as well for the Christmas package--haven't received it yet, but I'll be looking for it.
As for directions on the Christmas call, I will be calling you at 12 PM Alaska time, which is two hours behind Phoenix, so 2 PM your time. I'll be calling the house line ***-***-**** using our mission cell phones (AT&T service provider) on Christmas Day--hopefully, you won't get charged anything. It will be nice to call the house phone; that way, everyone can be on the phone at the same time. Make sure everyone has their own phone, make sure they're all charged up and ready to go. If for some reason I can't get through, and you don't hear from me just after 2 PM, then you may call my cell phone ***-***-****.  Of course, only on Christmas, only in the event of me not calling you, may you call me--please do not give this number to anyone. But everything's going to work out perfectly; I'll have no problem getting through, and we'll all get to have a nice conversation, and you can ask me anything. We'll have exactly 45 minutes to talk, so, again, make sure everything is charged, ready to go--make sure everyone's settled and comfortable in the house, and let's make good use of the small amount of time we do have.
Things are going great. I can assure you Christmas is going to be wonderful. It's hard not to feel the Christmas spirit here. For one, there's snow all over the place; it's beautiful, exactly what all the Christmas cards look like--you know, the snow-topped houses, the lazy smoke coming from the chimney, the snow on the branches--that's what it looks like here. Plus, I'm not too far away from the real North Pole, which is in Alaska and where Elder Luke has served before. It's not hard, either, to recall the real reason we celebrate Christmas--all we do is talk about Jesus.
On Christmas Eve, you all should read through, verse by verse, everyone reading a verse each, around in a circle, Luke 2. Also, check out Isaiah 9:6--you're all familiar with these scriptures I'm sure.
Check out Lauren's and Dad's letter for info on what's going on. Write down any questions you have for the phone call. You can ask me anything, and I'll try to tell you about everything.
Elder Johnson

Elder Johnson's e-mail - Tuesday, December 14, 2010

 Hi Dad,

Thanks for the e-mail and the update on the markets and the Cardinals.

*The most exciting experience of the week:*
We were asked by our Assistant Ward Mission Leader's (The guy who fills in
for Brother Harmon, when Bro. Harmon's gone) asked us to be a part of the
Christmas parade that goes on in Palmer every year. It's one of the biggest
events in the valley each year. Thousands of people, fairs, bazaars,
fireworks, the whole nine. Our stake has been a major part of the parade
with a Nativity scene float. Our job was to walk along side this huge
float and pass out about a thousand invitations to our Nativity Display
event that the stake also puts together each year in the Palmer building
(See two paragraphs down). It was negative 5 degrees, yet there were still
tons of people lined up five deep on each side of the street. I was in my
suit and jacket with five dollar gloves I bought at Lowes and my thin church
socks. But I was running around so much that I wasn't cold at all; I was
more hot than anything. It was a great opportunity to be seen by the public
in our suits and ties--not one person turned down the invitations we were
passing out; this was possibly due to the fact that we were giving them
candy as well.

After the parade, we got a call from the zone leaders, asking me and Elder
Luke to head to the bazaar and help a member out with his Dairy stand. He
owns Matanuska Creamery, a nice little dairy market in Wasilla. He had a
bunch of fresh-made eggnog, different types of cheeses, ice cream (Fact:
Alaska is the #1 consumer of ice cream in the nation) and chocolate. It was
just him, and he was being bombarded with people who wanted to buy
everything, so he freaked out and then called the missionaries. He put us
right to work: scooping ice cream, selling cheese and eggnog, getting
change, providing samples. It was also a great opportunity to be seen by the

Let me tell you about the Nativity Display event. So this was an idea
brought to fruition by one of the bishops a couple years ago. What they do
is they invite all members--as well as the public, mostly members,
though--to bring their nativity displays to the church. Then they decorate
the entire building and make it a giant Christmas event that goes on for a
weekend. They've gotten really good at it--so much so that they have every
single room in the church, which is about the size of our stake center at
home, dressed with a different theme of nativity: foriegn nativity, children
nativity, patriotic nativity, etc., etc., to name a few. It's absolutely
unbelievable how much work they put into it. The entire building is
transformed. Each room is restructured with wooden framing, wallpaper,
shelfing--even down to the smell. There's over 2,000 nativities total,
varying in size and style. In the gym, which is completely refurbished, they
have a huge nativity in the middle, smaller nativities along all walls, and
on the stage, they have live music and plays going on every hour. Free
hotchocolate and candy, scavenger hunts for children. They leave the
sliding, acordian-doors to the chapel open and dim the lights in the chapel
to show where we worship and in the evenings, on both Saturday and Sunday
night, they have the stake chior in the chapel singing Christmas carols. I
got a few pictures, but I hope to get some more from a few members, so I can
send them to you to show you how amazing it was. It was all done by the
members of the stake, and it's so popular they have the local TV new cover

*Finding People to Teach:*
Surprisingly enough, we've had a lot of success tracting and OYMing. We
haven't done much, but when we have, we've seen success--that's how we've
found five current investigators, two of which we have on date for baptism
and confirmation to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Most of our work has
been with less-actives and recent-converts this past transfer. We wanted to
first get to know the ward and gain the trust of the ward by strengthening
their church attendence from less-actives. This next transfer will be more
of a finding transfer, where we will do more tracting and OYMing. Much of
our tracting has occured enroute to our next appointment with a less-active
family or ward member, but now we will start to pick out streets from the
map and hit each house. There's not a lot of great places to OYM; we usually
got to the Target or Walmart parkinglot and reek havoc.

*Sunday School Lessons:*
I don't usually plan specific stories to tell. But as I teach, they come out
in response to a question or comment by someone. I usually turn to the
scripture, though. I've become very familiar with The Book of Mormon and New
Testament, because I've read through both of them front-to-back, along with
the entire Missionary Library. I'm working on Preach My Gospel again right
now, following every scripture reference listed and will soon read through
D&C and Pearl of Great Price, and then the Old Testament. I hope to
have everything read by my seven-and-a-half month mark.

Anyways, I better write mom something brief now. Thanks for updating me on
my money status. Please put more in. I won't be using it much from here-on,
but I might for something small today.


Elder Johnson

Elder Johnson's e-mail - Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hi Dad,

Thanks so much for you package and letter. I appreciated the talk you sent
me, got some good stuff out of it, and it lead me to some other talks that
I'm printing out right now. Thanks also for the update. I guess I left at
the perfect time; I'll miss the Cards rebuilding stage, and by the time I
come back, they'll hopefully be good again.

The weather's great. Negative one is the coldest I've experienced, and it's
not that bad. If you bundle up it's all good. The hard thing in the valley
is the wind. We've experienced nearly 60 MPH winds. You mix that with the
cold, and it can get pretty fun.
You're right. Everybody does outdoor stuff. Fishing, hunting, camping, "snow
machining" (snow mobiling) and anything else you can do outdoors. During the
winter, though, people usually do nothing. The sun doesn't stay out very
long: we're only getting about four/five hours of sunlight--and when it is
up, it just looks like it's early morning. It's way pretty though, and I
don't mind it at all. I'll get you some pictures--I've found a good way that
I can transport pictures to you.

The best experience this week was having two of our investigators, Tanner
and Giselle Messing, at church. They're currently working towards baptism on
January 1st--they're doing so good, it might happen sooner. They loved my
Gospel Principles class, which by the way has been going very well. And they
loved church. We also have a few other promising investigators, and we look
forward to have them accept the Gospel and be baptized this next transfer.

I received an e-mail from your mom and Grandpa Jack. I am unable to e-mail
them back due to mission rules, but I do plan on writing them and sending
them a letter this week. I do not have their mailing address. Will you
please send it to me so I can mail them the letter next Monday? Tell them
thank you so much for the e-mail and to expect a letter from me in a week or

You can also expect a letter from me in a week or so, explaining in much
more detail what's been going on. I have a project I need to get on before
we have to leave the library, so I must go--but I'll tell you more in my

Can you please include in your letters each week to me exactly how much
money I have in my account? I don't want to overdraw. I won't need anything
else for a while, but they've asked us to have about $100 of extra money in
case of emergency. I've used a lot lately because we've had a wierd week
with some expenses related to getting settled and organized in our
apartment, but it will get to the point where I will only use the missionary
allotement that I am given.

I love you. Expect a letter from me soon.


Elder Johnson

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! Monday, November 29, 2010

Hi Mom,
Thanks for the update. 
As for your bullet points:
  1. For Thanksgiving we ate at the Gilbert's and the Crawford's house. Yes, two dinners--done to appease the needy members. I ate a lot at the Gilbert's and dessert at the Crawford's.
  2. Okay
  3. Okay
  4. Send me Journal 1 first. I want to finish that one. Some of my entries may not be as spiritual in my prior entries, but it's a testament to my growth.
  5. You will need to buy Journal 2. Go to Barnes and Noble. Be sure to buy the same kind; they're easy to find. And then you will have to go to Deseret Book and have John imprint it with gold. Tell him to make it relatively clean and flush to the right-bottom--he'll know what to do.
  6. I need to know specifically how much I have each week. Please have him check this next Sunday and put it in his e-mail to me. I have received an e-mail from him in three weeks.
  7. Okay.
  8. Okay.
  9. Tell Brittany she's wrong on both accounts. Kishkumen is the one who begins with a K, and he was the one who helped influence the Gadianton Robbers at the beginning of Helaman. He was not a lawyer; that was Zeezrom: Zeezrom is who she's thinking about. But Coriantumr was the last remaining Jaredite.
  10. Mom, you're right about King Benjamin. Tell Lauren thanks for the letter.
Okay, I'm getting kicked off of the computers here at the library. All the students are prepping for finals now, so they hit the library at the end of the semester, rather than throughout.
Thanks for everything. I love you, and I hope you have a good week.
Elder Johnson

Elder Johnson e-mail, November 22, 2010

Hi Mom,
Thanks for the updates.
I think Brother Harmon is underestimating his relationship with us. He is our Ward Mission Leader. When he was in Alaska, we usually saw him three to four times a week. Him and his wife are way cool--and they have awesome cars, tons of them; they collect them; they're rich. We meet him for our correlation meetings weekly; he's helped us get started in the area; his wife makes cookies every meeting. They're the coolest people in the ward, and we miss them when they're gone. They're both crazy though, and yes, not Elder Williams, Elder Luke is what he meant to say.
Tell Brittany that I'm very disappointed in her tardiness. Tell her school is the most important thing in her life, besides the Gospel, and if she wants to be single with three kids living in government housing, keep being late to school.
Our Apartment:
Our apartment is not bad actually. It's got a kitchen, a table, a couch, one room, two beds, a bathroom and ample amounts of storage room. It's an old apartment and many missionaries have been through it, and the prior missionaries were very messy and quite disobedient it seems; so when we showed up, there were stacks of Mountain Dew and Coca Cola cans covering the windows. There were extreme sports posters: snow boarding, dirt biking, all over the room. There was a bunch of crap like nasty looking blankets, sheets, magazines, etc. The bathroom was terribly messy, soap scum running through the tub like vines--it was nasty. We spent our first two p-days cleaning the place, threw out a bunch of crap, and now it's looking better. I took pictures, and I'll send you some pictures via e-mail next week.
Best Experience This Week:
Zone Conference was way cool. They gave us a little care package and in it were all the letters you and the family wrote me for Thanksgiving. Thanks for those letters they were nice, and I liked Brittany's letter.
Also, David Huycke, one of our investigators, a husband of a member-wife, is coming closer to baptism. We also have a few other investigators that are looking very promising. We might have a few baptisms in the coming month as the Lord wills it.
Also, we've done a lot of RCLA work; hopefully you know that abbreviation by know so I don't have to tell you that it stands for Recent Converts and Less-Actives. We had a good week of meeting with folks and bringing them out to church. So in case you were wondering: I'm staying very busy.
Thank you for the family prayers every night. Pray for David Huycke and Nicky Deen that they will have the strength to quit smoking, and the O'Rourk family that they might find the will to go to church. Pray for all of my investigators that they can feel the Holy Ghost bare witness of the truthfulness of the Gospel.
May I suggest an FHE activity? Read through a few pages of Preach My Gospel as a family. Start in chapter one and just work your way through, each person reads a paragraph, go around in a circle and talk about things that stand out to you. It's scripture--the Prophet has said. Also, invite she missionaries over for dinner and ask them how you can be more of a missionary family. Ask them to do the Tracting in the Home game.
I have a question for Brittany. Who was Coriantumr? If she knows that off the top of her head, which she should if she's read through the BofM as many times as she says, then she should be able to recall--but I'll be very impressed.
Ask Lauren: What was the first thing King Benjamin talks about in his address.
Ask Dad: Who was Alma the Younger's first missionary companion?
For you: Who was the least obedient writer in the Book of Mormon? Least obedient in terms of writing quantity.
Ask them these questions tonight in FHE, and if you don't know, find out. And report back to me. Hopefully, next week I'll get to read a letter from everyone and not just my devoted loving mother. It's okay to write multiple e-mails from each of your e-mails.
Okay, I love you Mom.
Elder Johnson   

Questions and Answers, November 8, 2010

Elder Luke
Hi Dad,

 It's good to hear from you. I've pasted a copy of your e-mail in this one,
 and I'll answer under each question, and then we'll see where it goes from

 When was the last time missionaries were there?

 A: The last missionaries were there: a day before we were. This area has
 been open for a long time actually. But when I say white-washing, I mean
 that me and Elder Luke are both brand new to the area; this is typically not
 the case. Most often, a new missionary will be teamed up with a missionary
who's already been in the area before; but me and Elder Luke were brand new
 and know the same amount about the area: nothing at all.

How big is the ward?

 A: The ward is quite large--upwards around 400. The ward is fresh from a
 split. The members are wonderful and very kind. They love missionaries and
 take good care of us.

 What type of dwelling do you live in?

 A: Elder Luke and I live in an apartment. It's an older apartment, but some
 of the other missionaries in other areas close by have brand new apartments.
 Ours, however, is a bit old but still nice. It's been through a lot of
 missionaries--for at least 8 to 10 years. There was a bunch of stuff when we
 got in the apartment, left from past missionaries: a weight bench with
 weights, other workout stuff, beds, couch, table, furniture, sheets,
 blankets, jackets, board games and a bunch of crap we didn't need. The
 missionaries who lived there just before us left a mess, so me and Elder
 Luke went through and sweeped the place clean, deep cleaned the whole place
 last P-Day, and we got more cleaning still today--took down all the
 motorcross and x-games posters, put up Jesus pics and other church pictures.
 We're settling in nicely.

 What was your impressions of the mission president, his assistants and

 A: President Dance and his wife are awesome. They are amazing folks, and I'm
 sad they're leaving in June, wish I could do my whole mission with them.
 Made me feel loved the second we saw them. As we were coming through the
 airport, Sister Dance saw us and began running towards us, so excited. Mind
 you, we were still behind the security line, so when she passed it security
 guards asked her to please step back. But when we crossed into the greeting
 area, she shook our hands ferociously and President Dance gave me a huge
 that lasted like a minute. Haha, normally it would've felt kind of awkward,
 but I think I was ready for a hug, so it was all good. They treated us like
 royalty at the mission home and made us feel very loved.

Is being out in the field what you thought it might be?

 A: Not at all. It's awesome, and I'm so happy to have this experience. I had
 no idea. This is definitely the best opportunity I've been given--best
 choice I've made. I feel honored to be able to be out here, particularly in

 How has your knowledge of the gospel/testimony increased so far?

 A: Really it's just become more clear--makes more sense. I have a greater
 understanding of obedience and why we need to be obedient--how obedience
 will help us in the eternities and our progression to Godhood. I've also
 gotten a greater understanding of how to be attentive to the Spirit, how to
 listen to it, follow it, etc. We've been guided the past two weeks, finding
 people we wouldn't have found were it not for our obedience to the
 promptings of the Spirit.

 What are you reading and studying?

A:  B of M, Preach My Gospel, Jesus the Christ, Preach My Gospel and Preach My

What advise would you have for a young man considering a mission?

 A: If you are worthy, go. It's no longer strongly encouraged, no longer
 preferred for young men to go--it's a commandment. You go. There is no
 better preparation you can receive in life, no better experience, and there
 is no excuse. There is no better way to understand the truthfulness of the
 gospel and increase your testimony. Slighting your mission is slighting God.
 Don't wait, go.

What have you learned from your companion about being an effective

 A: Being able to get to know folks--the small talk that I was never good at,
 he's good at, and I'm getting better at. Listening to the promptings of the
 Spirit. Maintaining strict obedience to the mission rules--strict obedience.
 Be laid back and enjoy your mission. We have fun.

Have you done any tracting yet?

A: Absolutely. I enjoy tracting; I'm good at it because I'm bold and quick
 with people, quick to agree with their concerns and unwind them until they
 are willing to listen more. We've had a lot of success this past week: we
 found 10 new potential investigators. The work is moving along fast, and we
 are bringing people unto Christ.

What type of car do you drive?

 A: Brand spanking new Chevy Malibu. The Church owns the largest fleet of
 cars in the world, second only to the U.S. Government.

How did you travel to Wasilla?

 A: Was intoduced to Elder Luke, and we drove our car an hour from Anchorage
 to Wasilla. We drive a lot each week.

What is the most spiritual experience you have enjoyed so far?

  A: Have had a lot. By the way, I can get up now in Church or in front of a
class and speak with no problem, no fear, without any verbal fillers--I'm
getting really good at public speaking--and quite confident as you can tell;
but it's only because I have the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide me as to
what to say. The other day I was giving a spiritual thought to the first
counselor's family, the Cheney's, reading from 2 Nephi 4 or 6, talking about
trials and how we can overcome them. I was totally feeling it, being guided
by the Spirit, had no idea what I was going to say; I was just saying it.
And it was a powerful moment in their house. When I was done, the
Grandfather was in tears and gave me a hug and thanked me.

Also, me and Elder Luke were totally guided by the Spirit two days ago. We
were headed to a family's house, who we planned to see, and then Elder Luke
stopped the car and said, "Wait, I have a feeling we need to go down this

 We went down the road, and he told me to see if any members lived on this
street. I took out our Area Book, found a name we didn't know, told him how
to get to her house. We find the house, looked totally deserted, were almost
about to not knock on the door, but we did. An older woman opens the door,
we ask her if she was who was on the ward list. She says she is, but she did
not want to talk to anyone from our Church.

Of course, that means she wants to talk, so we kindly and carefully pry, and
eventually, she's in tears telling us why her heart's so hard, that she
served a mission, believes in the Gospel, reads the B of M daily but that
she has a hard-heart because of some past mis-treatment from leaders, and
needs our help. We set up a meeting for next week, and leave her with a
powerful spiritual thought.

Do you need any gear?  Do you still like the cold weather?  How long
are the days (daylight)?

A: A member gave me brand new boots that can get me through -100 degrees,
so don't buy me boots. I do, however, need some money in my account, because
eventually I will need to by long-johns or some warm under-garments. I love
the cold weather; it's not cold enough yet, actually. Days are getting
shorter and shorter everyday.

I'll leave it at that. I'll try to respond to mom's e-mail now. Tell Lauren
and Brittany to write me. They can write me letters or send me e-mails.
Haven't heard from Lauren. ...

Elder Johnson

Elder Johnson's First Letter from Alaska!!! November 1, 2010

Hi Mom (and family--this is going to be the only e-mail I sent this Monday),
So I was sent to Wasilla, AK as one of two missionaries covering the Colony Ward. This week has been awesome. We, my companion, Elder Luke, my trainer, an Elder 22 mos. old, and myself, were white-washed in the area--meaning, we are both brand new to the area and have no clue what's going on. It's been okay, though, because we immediately started meeting with members, less active members (LAs), recent converts (RCs) and investigators (two of them)--and we used this whole week to meet everybody and get to know them.
The members are amazing, very nice. When we passed out our dinner calendar for the month of Nov. in Relief Society yesterday, they were fighting over who go to feed us. We filled the whole month in a few minutes and some sisters were very disappointed that they couldn't feed us dinner, so we scheduled lunch to appease them.
We were very busy talking to LAs and RCs. Being on a mission gives you a great opportunity to listen to people, their problems, concerns--that's a lot of what we did when we met with them--listen. We taught a lot of lessons, and we have one progressing investigator, whose wife is a member. He's got a ways to go, but no sweat, everytime we meet with him we bring him closer to Christ--that's our purpose, that's what we're supposed to do.
My companion is great. We get along good. We're both focused on the work. He's from St. George, UT. Was a Zone Leader and is now the leader of our district, which gives me an opportunity to see how leadership is done. He's had a lot of success in the mission. He says he doesn't feel like a trainer because he has nothing to train me on, says I'm ready to be a senior companion already. But whatever--I don't care; I'm just working. We've just hit the ground running. We work nicely when giving lessons.
Everything's good. I don't know what else to say. The weather's cold, but it's nothing a jacket can't fix. It's pretty. Had a cool service project on Thurs., where we herded a bunch of Musk-Oxen into a barn to be weighed; yeah, musk-ox, google it, had no idea what they were either. But I later found out that they're big, like tons-of-pounds big, and really dumb and scared of people. The herding process was a matter of walking them in. That was really fun though because the farm land was pretty: mountains, snow, plains, musk-oxen, soft smell of ox patty--it was cool.

Talk to you in a week. I love you. Bye.
Elder Johnson

Elder Johnson's Second Letter from the MTC on October 21, 2010

Entire MTC District Alaska Anchorage Mission
Hi Mom,
As you know, I don't have much time on e-mail, only 30 minutes and the computer is slow. I've received every one of your DearElders, as well as Dad's and Brittany's. I can only write letters on Thursday, my P-Day; that's why you haven't received any response. DearElder is awesome; unfortunately, you will not be able to use this when I'm in Alaska, where I will be leaving to on Monday. I have, however, already written and mailed my letters to you all this morning, so hopefully you'll get them in a few days.
My purpose for this e-mail is to give you some important information. I want you to respond via DearElder by today, Thursday, so I can know how we're going to work this out.
I'm flying to Alaska on Monday morning. My MTC District President has advised us that we may call our families while we are in the airport. So, I need to know both you and dad's cell phone numbers. And I need you to be ready for a phone call throughout the morning. I do not know when exactly I will be able to call. But I figure before my flight to Alaska. If Lauren and Brittany would like to be in on the phone conversation then that would be cool. If you and dad can get work off in the morning, then it might be better for me to just call the land-line, so everybody can here the conversation at the same time. But I'll leave that up to you to decide.
So, please tell me which number(s) you would like me to call. I wish I could work within your schedule, but I just don't know how lenient my schedule will be, so I need you all to be open most of the morning, particularly before 9 AM UT-time, as my flight takes off around that time. DearElder me today; if you do this, I can receive it by either today or tomorrow. But you need to do it tonight.
As for everything else: I'm having a tremendous time and am way pumped to get out into the field. My letters detail everything else and answer all of your questions.
After Friday, maybe Saturday (but don't bet on it), will be the last time you can DearElder me and I don't know how you can get in contact with me after that, beyond the phone call, but I'm certain I will find out on Monday evening when I arrive in Alaska.
I hope everyone is well. You should receive mail in a few days.
Elder Johnson

Elder Johnson's First e-mail from the MTC in October 7, 2010

It's been an amazing experience thus far. I'm very impressed with the
> organization and program structure. I'm going to learn a lot and already
> have. Food's great: Salads every meal. I ran two-and-a-half miles today and
> did some upper body workouts. I think I've already lost some weight.
> My companion, Elder Moyle, is a young SL City boy fresh from high school,
> but he's quite mature and we're getting along great.
> I've just been having a blast. We read a lot. We've had some very
> interesting discussions in our classes. I'll get a chance to tell you a
> little more on my P-Day, which is next Thursday. But to help me describe
> what you want to know, I'd appreciate an e-mail back with specific
> questions, and I'll try to answer them.
> I hope this e-mail find you all well. I love you very much.
> Love,
> Elder Johnson