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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Elder Johnson's e-mail dated March 28, 2011 - Questions and Answers

Hi Mom,
Thanks for the e-mail.

Can you buy me Religous Truths Defined by Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. off of Amazon and send it to me, ASAP?

What service projects? where?
Monday - P-day: e-mails, shopping, laundry
Tuesday - District Meeting
Wednesday - Food Pantry
Thursday - Musk-Ox Farm
Friday - Weekly Planning Session
Saturday - Various, hopefully lessons or tracting
Sunday - Church

Are you and Elder Bird doing these service projects together?
Of course, we have to stay within sight and sound of one another at all times. So, if I'm working on the computer at the Musk-Ox Farm, Elder Bird's chopping wood just outside the office--where I can hear and see him.

Are there other missionaries there?
Yes, most often times there are other missionaries--mainly from our district.

When you go on splits, who are the other missionaries that you trade off with or do you do splits with members?
Splits are with other members, and we only do splits on Wednesday evenings. Priest-age young men or priesthood holders take us out, and we have to companionships working the area at once. Exchanges are with other missionaries, and we only usually do it once a transfer, where our district leader will go on exchanges with the senior companion--a way to check up and oversee how things are going. Elder Luke was District Leader my first two transfers, so I went on exchanges four times a transfer (one for each companionship in our district), but now we don't do that.

What are their names?
I went on exchanges with Elder Flynn this past transfer. Elder Flynn, from Arkansas, I think.

Who are those other missionaries? 
Every missionary in our district or zone will usually play basketball at the stake center. Other missionaries include: Elders Flynn, Williams, Christenson, Benage, Woratyla, Anderson, Goodwin, Rarig, amongst others. 

What do you feel about them? 
Most of them are a bunch of goobers. But some of them like to work hard--and are here for the right reasons--and some of them don't and are not.

Anything funny ever happen when you are around those guys?
Sure. Just the random you-had-to-be-there-to-think-it's-funny kind of funny.

Are you prepared for a transfer? 
I need to stay one more, and we'll have six baptisms here in Colony.

Transfers are next week, right?
Wrong. Transfers are the week after next--April 11.

Where in Alaska would you like to be transferred to eventually?
I don't care. But I'd prefer somewhere in a city, like Fairbanks or Juneau or Anchorage. Missionaires in the bush don't teach much. Honestly, I don't care where I go. I like reading, teaching, and talking to people. When you're on your mission, all that other stuff doesn't matter because you don't get to take advantage of it. I don't care about fishing or anything outdoors. I just want a heavily populated area where I can talk to as many people as possible.

What was your most recent spiritual experience. 
Blessed a sick, non-member with the Stake Patriarch.

Are you writing these down in a journal?
No. I'm too busy reading and recording. But I have detailed records of everyone that we're teaching, so that's journal-like.
Elder Johnson

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Elder Johnson's e-mail, March 21, 2011

Hi Dad,
Yeah, I've heard a little about BYU's b-ball success. That's pretty cool.

I should be just fine in my bank account. I've had to spend a little bit of
money from it recently. But I don't anticipate spending anymore for a while.
Thank you for keeping me up-to-date on it; I'm being frugal and am budgeting
my expenses. But I've had a couple unexpected expenditures.

*I was going to ask you if have been able to keep up your work out schedule each morning and continuing eat a pretty healthy diet?  *

I am. I eat a bowl of Cherios every morning.  Then for lunch I have a sandwich or
salad--and then whatever is made for me at dinner. But right now I'm 220, down
from 243, when I left. I imagine I'll lose even more weight once I start running
this summer--whether I have a companion who wants to run or not, I'll make him.

*Did you get your new watch yet?*

I did. It's working wonderfully. Thank you. I'll send the old watch ASAP.

*Are the basketball shoes working out ok? Do you need any other gear?***

They are. Thank you for them. I do not need any other gear as of now.

Thank you so much for everything.

Elder Johnson

Hi Mom,

I did not receive your e-mail last week while I was on the computer. For whatever reason--but I have the letters now. This letter, however, is in response to your most recent one.

I haven't seen the Northern Lights yet. They come out pretty late, and we go to bed early, so it's tough to catch them. But I'm sure I'll get a chance to see them sometime in the next year-and-a-half. Year-and-a-half . . . can you believe I've been out nearly half a year? I just realized that. Time's going by SOOOOO quickly. I'm in no rush, though. A lot more work to be done.

We have been teaching a lot people. That's what we do in the Colony ward. We teach more lessons than any missionaries in Alaska. We taught 38 total lessons last week, nine of which were with members present. We teach all day, every day. In the mornings, though, from 10 to 12, we usually will do service or have district meetings. And we tract a little bit. Haven't had much time to tract yet. But in the four doors I knocked last week, we found four new people who are interested in having us come back and teach them. My tracting success rate is almost 50%--for every two doors I knock, I find one potential investigator.
You asked about the rule of three.  I don't know what the rule of three means. If it was you, Lauren and Brittany--we'd be able to come into your house. The Missionary Handbook, however, advises that missionaries have a member when they are visiting with a single woman. But the language says, "When possible;" sometimes it's just not possible. So missionaries must go by the spirit. But we'd walk into the house with three women, without reserve--that wouldn't be a problem.

The mission has emergency evacuation proceedures in the event of a major natural disaster. Don't fear, my dear Mother.

Elder Johnson

Monday, March 14, 2011

Elder Johnson's e-mail March 14, 2011 - FIRST BAPTISM!!!

 Elder Bird, Michael, Lisa and Elder Johnson

Same folks with Patriarch McNair

Hi Dad,

 Oh yeah, I know Elder Macpherson* very well. He's very sharp for a new
 missionary--one of the most impressive missionaries I've been around. I
 loved the guy. We did an exchange not too long ago for a day. I'd love to
 serve with him.

Thank you for sending me a working watch. I'll send you the broken one ASAP.

I hope you start feeling better.

Please check my account regularly. Sorry I had a few miscellaneous
 expenditures this week that added up. I do not forsee using my personal card
 anytime soon. Please make sure that I didn't overdraw.

We had a wonderful baptism on Saturday. Michael Kulowiyi and Lisa
 Lehrman-Bon. Here's a picture. In it you will also see our Stake Patriarch,
 Brother McNair, who, by the way, absolutely loves me. He's asked me to come
 back and marry his daughter when she gets back from Med school, so that he
 and I can spend more time together. Never seen the daughter--not even a
 picture--don't even know her age--but I told him I would anyways, because
 he's way cool. Reads a lot, knows a lot. Most of our lessons with Lisa and
 Roger and Michael were me and him making fun of each other. Patriarch McNair
 performed the ordinances for Lisa and Elder Bird for Michael. I wanted Elder
 Bird to get a chance to perform the baptismal ordinance for Michael. I
 thought that'd cheer him up, so I recommended it to work the way that it

We had the McNairs at every lesson with Roger and Lisa. I knew right from
 the beginning that they'd all love each other. That's the way it worked out.
 Lisa's already got a calling. Michael's already got the Aaronic Priesthood.
 The family is solid. A solid conversion--it's been a blessing to be a part


Elder Johnson

*Steve wrote this to Brad in his e-mail, "We had a visiter (high priest) from Utah in our ward yesterday who said he has a newphew who has been serving in Alaska (the Valdez area) for about two months now--Elder Macpherson.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Elder Johnson's E-mail - March 7, 2011

Hi Mom,

Thanks for the funny letter. The screen door stories were funny.*
Speaking of baptisms: we do have a baptism--two actually--this weekend. Lisa Lehrman-Bon and Michael, the son are getting baptized. It was funny how it worked out.  Two weeks ago, I extended an invitation for Lisa to be baptized--we call it a conditional baptismal invitation: "Lisa, as you come to know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, will you be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?"
It's a reasonable question, so most answer in the affirmative, as did Lisa at that time. Then after she said yes so willingly, I thought it appropriate to extend a specific date. I said: "Lisa, we will be holding a baptismal service on March 12, will you prepare yourself for baptism on that date?"
She said no, no I'm not ready for a specific date. Sorry, she said, don't mean to shut you down, but I don't like dates.
Usually, we would then pry a little and try to find her concern--why she feels she's not ready to accept a specific date--and then resolve it. But I felt prompted to not do that. So I just said, "Okay, no problem. This is a big decision; baptism is a serious step of faith, and we want you to feel comfortable--we want to go at your own pace." And then we left it at that.
The next week, we watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration with her and her family. Afterwards she said: Okay, I'm ready to be baptized and so is Michael--how soon can we do it?
Lisa's pretty cool. She's a very smart lady. Got her master's degree in some ancient historical study. She's studied many different religions. Was formerly Lutheran but left because she was unsatisfied with their doctrine. But she's 100% pleased with the Book of Mormon, says it totally makes sense. We still have to teach her the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Tithing, so we'll see how she responds. But I feel good about it. If God wills it, her and Michael's baptism will take place this weekend at 5:30 PM.
I don't really care about P-days. It's the worst day of the week. It's long and boring, no teaching, nothing, so I usually just do whatever my companion wants to do.  Elder Bird likes to be around other missionaries, so we usually play sports. And now its getting to be lighter outside, usually light from 7 AM to 6:30/7 PM. It's extremely noticable, compared to what it was. And it's changed quickly. Each day we gain about 5 minutes of daylight. It hasn't been too cold lately, but the wind has been killer. 30+ MPH for 7 days straight--today's the first day without much. Makes it tough to do missionary work, though. At least the finding aspect. People don't want to talk on their doorstep when the wind's kicking, so they tell you to come back later, or simply just go away, preferrably somewhere inside.

Here's an e-mail that President Dance sent me. He doesn't usually respond to weeklies, so I thought it was pretty cool.

Dear Elder Johnson,
Exceptional letter as always - exceptional missionary.  We are so blessed to have you!!
I loved your comments about  You have really amplified its early use in your area and we will all learn from your good example.
There must be a baptism around the corner in Colony.  I can feel it!
Much love,
Pres. Dance

My watch sucks. Sucks majorly. It hasn't worked since I got to the MTC. I haven't mentioned it, because I've too busy to think about it. But I'm fed up. I wear it every day, only for looks, because it can't keep time to save my life. I have to reset it every hour if I wanted it to stay on time. Will you please send me another watch? I don't care what kind, as long as it has a leather band and can keep time. Or you can send me money sufficient to buy a decent watch up here, which is $50. But I think it'd be cheaper if you sent me one. If you want to take a look at the one I have, take it back or whatever, then I'll be happy to send it home.
Let me know what you want to do.
Elder Johnson 

*(from my letter to Brad) So, yesterday, Dad is walking though the kitchen and he grabbed a bag of trash and BOOM walked right through the screen door!  Pulled it off its tracks and everything.  We had to take the handle off to get it back into the track and get it pulling open and closed again.  If it had to happen, I'm glad it happened to Dad first.  That way, he can't be mad at us if we do it!  Wow.  But it is great to have a screen door open and no bugs coming in.  Oh yea, Sugar ran into the door too, but she just bounced off of it.  Then she wouldn't go out when I tried to show her that it was ok.  Poor Suggie.