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.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Elder Johnson's October 10, 2011 E-Mail

Hi Mom,
1. Did you get the gedcom Grandpa Miller sent? 
Yes, and I e-mailed them back the next Monday, telling them that I did. But since they didn't get the e-mail, I said something like:
(See the e-mail I forwarded to you.)

2. What is date is transfer day and will Elder Hartman leave early because of his visa?
6 November 2011--There will be plenty of time for the package to get here.

3.  We are off work on Monday because of Columbus day.  (yea!) Do you have a holiday on Monday?
It's Canada's Thanksgiving holiday this weekend. They've basically--and they're quite open admitting this--copied our Thanksgiving holiday. The reason why they have theirs earlier than ours is due to their earlier harvest season.
They do not do it like us in that they don't have one specific day for the holiday. It's just Thanksgiving weekend, and they'll have Thanksgiving dinner on either Saturday, Sunday or Monday. I don't know whether theirs a day-off work or not. Maybe it is, not sure. Doesn't make much of a difference for us.
Sounds funny that you're having missionaries over so much. I'm sure you guys are pretty cool members. Every missionary has a favorite member family. How does it work with missionaries there--do they cover stakes or wards? And if you wouldn't mind, would you ask them what their Standards of Excellence are for their Top 5 Key Indicators? Just curious to see how they compare with our mission.
Okay, I promised a synopsis of my mission thus far. I wish you had some questions that might fuel my comments, so I know what your interested in knowing, but since I have nothing to work from, I will answer these questions, which I think you might find interesting to know:
1. What have I learned on my mission thus far?
2. What do I hope to learn this next year?
3. How do I feel I have changed?
4. What will I do differently in my life when I return from this experience?
What Have I Learned on My Mission thus Far?
The mission experience is difficult to describe or summarize. The best answer I have for potential missionaries wondering what their mission experience will be like is: There's no way to describe it to you to give you a full sense of what it's like. You won't know until you get out there. Just go with a good attitude, and it'll be the greatest learning experience of your life.
Likewise, I can't sum-up everything I've learned. I don't know all that I've learned. After this experience, I'll probably keep finding out things that I've learned for the rest of my life. I think for most of what's gained on the mission, one finds out in the moment that they use it. It's only then that they relate that ability or habit or sentiment back to the mission.
But, for the personal growth I am currently aware of, I have learned the following (I'm going to list out things, and I'll give explanations if I feel they're needed):
I have learned how to develop and break habits.
I have learned how to set goals and plan to accomplish them.
I have discovered the principle of tolerance.
I have learned more of the diversity of the world.
I have learned how to listen to people.
I have developed a greater capacity for patience.
I have developed a model for resolving people's concerns, helping them work through their difference in belief
or opinion and aligning it more closely to mine.
I have learned how to engage people in quality conversations.
I have learned how to approach people I don't know.
I have increased my desire to be obedient.
I have learned more about my innate personality.
I have learned more attributes that good fathers have.
I have learned how to have good, wholesome, appropriate fun.
I have developed a greater understanding of what a good leader does.
I have a greater sense of what King Benjamin was talking about in Mosiah 2:20-25.
I have developed the ability to find and focus on what's important.

What Do I Hope to Learn (or Learn More of) this Next Year?
I hope to learn how to pray more fervently.
I hope to learn how to identify the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
I hope to develop a greater love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
I hope to learn how to ask good questions.
I hope to enhance my spiritual sensitivity.
I hope to learn more about appropriate humor.
I hope to become more unashamed of the Gospel.
I hope to learn more about attributes that good leaders have.
I hope to learn how to communicate my spiritual feelings better.
I hope to learn more about the kind of person I want to marry.
I hope to enhance my desire (or lessen my reluctance) for marriage.
I hope to enhance my capacity to create analogies for spiritual or abstract ideas.
I hope to learn how to become an engaging teacher.

How Do I Feel I Have Changed?
Well, this is kind of a redundant question. (See question one to get a sense.)
But, in an attempt to answer briefly, I have developed greater self control in all aspects of life. This has increased my consistency and productivity. Because of this increased self control I feel like I utilize my time more effectively.
I have developed the ability to find and focus on what's important—in all aspects of life. This will probably make me a more focused individual and maybe more productive in less time, more efficient.
I don't know. This is pretty difficult. I'm really going to have to consider this more. This is taking a while.
What Will I Do (or What Do I Want to Do) Differently in My Life when I Return from this Experience?
This self-introspection thing is quite draining. I don't really know right now. I'll have to think about it.
How about we do this. Look at what I've written—at least for the first two questions—and if you are interested in getting an explanation about something I've written, ask me questions in accordance with that topic. Specific questions will garner a more specific answer.
For instance, a good series of questions for a specific topic you want to learn more about will be presented like this:
I have learned how to develop and break habits.
What habit are you most happy you've developed? Broken?
Have you been able to develop the habit of studying your scriptures each day? If so, how will you go about maintaining this habit when you get home? What might you suggest to someone struggling with that habit?
Describe a habit you are currently working on developing. What steps are you taking to see that it becomes a habit?

Or something like this:

I have discovered the principle of tolerance.
I don't quite know what you mean by this. Will you give me an example where you applied the principle of tolerance in real life? Or maybe you might give me an example of a situation where you have seen this principle working, seen evidence of it.
I've always considered patience and tolerance to be nearly synonymous. How do you distinguish between the two? Do you think they're linked in any manner, or do they function independently of one another?

Or, maybe, consider presenting a question or comment in this way:

I hope to enhance my spiritual sensitivity.
By spiritual sensitivity, do you mean developing your attentiveness to the Spirit? Or do you mean you'd like to enhance your capacity to feel the Spirit.
How has the Spirit communicated with you in the past?
How would you describe the feelings of the Spirit?
I'm the same way when it comes to Sacrament Meeting. I'd really like to enhance my ability to feel the Spirit during the meeting. I'd like to make Sacrament Meeting as spiritual of an experience as it is for me when I listen to General Conference. I don't see why it shouldn't be. While the messages in GC might be better phrased and more beautifully arranged, the principles discussed are the same and the Spirit is the same. I feel like I can do this by yada yada yada.

You will greatly assist me in my self-introspection by asking questions to help me focus on finer points that interest you.
Elder Bradley Johnson

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