|Still wearing his Russian name tag. :)|
All right! This week has blown by pretty fast, but it's been a great one, none the less. It was packed full of meetings, exchanges, and general conference. Though the week was packed and a lot of things happened, I feel like an experience I had while on an exchange is worth sharing and will overall add some insight to our purpose as missionaries.
|Elder Johnson and Elder Bronson|
So, a missionary exchange is when two sets of missionaries trade companions for 24 hours. Typically one of these sets of missionaries have leadership positions, this way the missionary leadership can see how the missionaries their assigned to are doing. With that said, the zone leaders had an exchange with Elder Deason and I. Elder Deason stayed in our area (Ventura, California) and I went to Santa Paula with Elder T (I say Elder T because he has a super long Samoan name). So the kicker of this exchange was that Santa Paula is a Spanish area. Now the extent of my Spanish knowledge is I speak broken Russian, and overhear Spanish music on the streets sometimes, but I was still pretty pumped to be there. Thankfully Elder T. is fluent in Spanish, so I wasn't 100% lost.
|Elder Johnson and Elder T|
Following Elder T's lead, we visited and spoke to a lot of people. Some in Spanish (with the great translations of Elder T) and some in English. One home we visited stuck out to me specifically:
The first visit was to a family called the Alpuches Family. We knocked on the door and an older man had opened the door. He did the typical "who the crap are these guys" scan, and then smiled. He tried to talk to us, but his English was too broken to understand. Elder T. then started to speak to him in Spanish. The man’s face lit up and was immediately more comfortable with us being there. He invited us into his home. The small house had a living room, kitchen and two other rooms that connected to it. Old paintings and colorful quilts covered the older, crumbling walls. The man kindly gestured us to sit and told us to wait for a moment as he walked into another room. After a moment, the man brought out his wife in a wheel chair. She was a very petite woman, dressed in a colorful gown that looked homemade, and from her right knee down, her leg was gone. I watched intently as Elder T. would speak to them in Spanish, getting to know them so that we could address any needs they had. With the conversation being with missionaries, our belief obviously came up. We explained that we believe that God still helps his children today, and explained that the book of Mormon was a record of God's dealing with His children in the ancient Americas. When we explained the Book of Mormon, Roseriso (the woman) lit up and claimed she wanted to read this book. Surprised by how crazy her reaction was, we gave her a Spanish Book of Mormon. She then told us about how she came from a small Mayan community in Mexico and that this book was her way to know about her family. She and her husband than asked us question after question, some about the gospel of Jesus Christ, The Book of Mormon, and others about their own trials they're facing. As we answered each of their questions by the spirit, their eyes started to well up with tears of joy. Their "questions of the soul" were being answered and they were able to feel in their hearts that spirit of truth that so many people search for. It was that moment I was able to see my reason for serving a mission, to invite others to come unto Christ and to try my best to bring them happiness.
This experience left an impression on me mainly because I was able to see the fear/discomfort of having those deeper questions answered. People are searching for happiness and truth, and being able to deliver a means to both of those things has been a great blessing thus far. I know that this gospel is true, I know that if our message (that God lives and continues to minister to all of his children, and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all of our weaknesses can be made strengths) of happiness is tested with sincerity, through prayer, it can be confirmed to you as it has been for me.
If this blog entry is a little too religious for your taste, I'm sorry that you've stumbled on the blog of a missionary. I hope everyone is having a wonderful week, and I hope fall is treating you all well!
Have a Great Day!
Elder Cody Johnson
|Elder Johnson's apartment|