Monday, November 28, 2016

Possible Wizard & A Thanksgiving Party

Elder Johnson & Elder Anderson chilling at their apartment.

Hello Everyone! 

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving with good food and family!

This week has been a good one, but it has felt pretty short. It seems time just keeps on moving faster and faster. Anyway, our Thanksgiving was pretty legit! A little over a week ago, we were sitting in the church building with the same 20-25 people for the service. I was sitting in the back next to one of our less-actives, writing down new words that I didn't recognize (needless to say I was writing a lot). My writing was interrupted by the noise of one of the back doors in the chapel opening, and a man walking quietly to the seat next to me. He had a long blue overcoat covering his worn jeans and black button up shirt. His hair was medium length, except for the top of his head, which was bald and he had a scruffy red beard coupled with scars all over his face. He honestly looked like someone from Harry Potter. So, this wizard sat next to me. He looked at me, noticed my name tag and smiled and whispered,

"Hey, my name's Carl. What's your name?"

I was thrown off guard that he spoke English and sounded like an American. Still kind of confused, I whispered back. 

"My name is Elder Johnson. Nice to meet ya." 

"Sick man, nice to meet you too. Hey, some of the other missionaries know me. I was wanting to throw a Thanksgiving party in Center. Invite all the English club folks and have all of you teach them during the party. Like undercover, ya know?" 

So that was the birth of this Thanksgiving party idea. We met with Carl a few more times and got everything set up. I don't know how, but Carl some how had gotten 6 turkeys and about 100 potatoes. I asked if it was expensive at all while we were setting up and all he said was, "Eh, I've made lots of friends".... what the crap? haha Who has friends who can supply turkeys and potatoes on a whim? The only answer to that question is "Carl".  We got the party put together and it ended up being a blast and very effective on the missionary side of things. We had been teaching and having great discussions all night. So if Carl, who has disappeared (again), every reads this. Thanks man, you truly are a wizard. 

Local of the week.
So another great thing that's been going well is the language. I'm still about as capable as a three year old in the language. Here's the thing though, some people like three year olds! With that said, I'm starting to be able to develop some great friendships and relationships. One of those people is Артём (Art-yo-m) He's a cool guy who's been interested in learning English with us, and has also been interested in the gospel as well. He's been a great friend and "guide" here in Kharkov.

Артём & Elder Johnson
Thanks guys for reading! I love you all and I wish you the best from Ukraine. Get ready for Christmas! Give something great to someone you love! 

With chocolate and borscht,

Elder Cody Johnson 

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Language, English Class & Enduring To The End

Hey everyone!! This week has been a great one, like all the others! Ukraine is getting cooler and cooler the longer I stay here. I'm starting to understand Russian a little better every day. I am catching new words and phrases and writing them down. It's slow but steady. The language has been interesting. There are moments where I feel pretty good and then other moments of pure terror. Elder Anderson's language skills are very good and he is a great teacher. He's been helping me a lot with the language. Even though I lack vocabulary and my grammar skills are far below average, I love to talk and get to know people. I have been sharpening what little I do know through conversation, so that is pretty fun.

Speaking of language, Our English classes are going pretty well. This week we were teaching one of the classes about rhymes, poems, and songs. We wanted the class to work together and make a poem together. Elder Anderson and I started the poem with the line, "we are at the club" and then let the class take the wheel. With the class working together the poem became a story about beating up a guy and being arrested. Needless to say, I am very proud of our students and their rhyming ability.

The Poem from English class

We did have a very interesting teaching experience with a family whose name is "тихо миров”. Which translates to "family of the quiet worlds." That is your Russian class for today. Anyway, we got to sit down with them and have a good discussion about how one of the most important principles in the gospel and life overall is enduring. The light that comes from doing the right thing comes alive when we endure and continue to do those good things. The same applies in our relationships with others, our professional careers, and in our personal goals. It was a really good discussion and we were able to feel the spirit and love from that family. 

I would write a lot more if I had the time, but there is work to do. I love you all. I hope you are all coming closer to those you love and are counting your blessings as we come closer to Thanksgiving. 

до завтра

-Elder Cody lee Johnson

Monday, November 7, 2016

Much Walking & a Dog Attack

This week has been a great one! 

Elder Anderson and I are opening a new area to teach in. We have been spending a lot of time trying to meet with and get to know some of the members in our area. The branch members (a branch is a smaller congregation of the church a larger congregation is called a ward) are pretty scattered over Saltivska (the area of Kharkiv). Because of this and being instructed not to take public transport in densely populated areas due to the elections, we have been getting in a lot of walking. I'm pretty sure my legs look better than any model's out there. Not trying to brag or anything, just saying that is how it is. It has been pretty fun though, walking for miles each day in our area for a couple reasons. One, it is a fantastic way to get to know the area. Two, the Marshootka drivers (like a bus driver) drive like Mel Gibson in Lethal weapon, except not near as cool. It is surprisingly entertaining when the Babooshkee (plural of Babooshka) are yelling and cursing at Mel Gibson as they bob around like rolly pollies. Three, it is good exercise. Four, there are so many cool and interesting people on the street, it is really fun to talk with them. So needless to say, I have really enjoyed walking everywhere. 

I must confess, I have broken a sacred and deeply personal code this week. That code is to love all dogs. Elder Norp and I were together on an exchange and we had gone into an apartment complex for a meeting with the Zone leaders. While waiting for our elevator, a Babooshka with her dog were waiting on the elevator as well. Her dog looked up and growled at me. I looked at the little dog with my optimistic love. The dog was probably 6 inches tall and reminded me of the "worlds ugliest dog" competitions. It was missing an ear, no hair except a little on the top of his head, and had a pink dog sweater that had a heart on the back. For the sake of the story, we will call him Patches. I looked away from Patches and started to talk with Elder Norp. I guess while Elder Norp and I were talking, Patches's owner let him off the leashfor reasons I do not know. The next thing I knew there was a pink blur attacking my leg. Snarling and barking Patches was showing no mercy as he tried to cause some damage. This is the point of the story where I broke my vow of “unbroken kindness towards all dogs”. Without thinking, I launched Patches into the air with my leg. The pink sweater wearing tyrant was now flying back towards the babooshka and landed right next to her (the dog was okay, for those animal lovers out there). So the message of this story is that I have survived a dog attack. Even though the dog was wearing a pink sweater and was about the size of football, I survived!

Not much time to write today so I am going to have to stop here. I'm grateful to be here and I love every single adventure (or misadventure) we have come across. I wish you all the best and have a great week. 


Elder Johnson

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Wrestling The Language & English Club

This week has been a crazy one, but I had lots of cool experiences! First snow!! It's a Halloween Miracle! I may had been a little over excited about the early snow and it probably looked weird to the Ukrainian people to see a 19 year old guy freaking out and trying to play with the less than an inch of snow. 

The Russian language and I have been wrestling all week. Some days are okay, and some are pretty bad. But I'm still having fun while learning it. A good representation of my language ability is when Elder Anderson and I were visiting a member. We had been in this woman's apartment for about twenty minutes and after the normal "get to know you" questions; she asked how long we've been here in Ukraine. My companion told her that he had been serving for about 14 months and that I have been serving for about 4 days. When she heard this she was surprised and then told me my Russian was good for being so new. The kicker is, I had no idea what she said. HA HA! So that's where I am in the language right now. шаг за шагом (step by step). 

One good way to practice our language and also invite others to church is through English Club. At English Club anyone who is interested in practicing their English and/or learning more English attend. We often invite them to stay after class for a spiritual thought and invite them to learn more about the gospel. The people we meet who want to practice their English are all pretty different and come from a lot of different areas. Seven of them are 7 Moroccans. After class we had some time to talk and get to know all of them. Some of them spoke English, Russian, French, others Arabic. We all talked about music, Ukraine, the Russian language, and about other odds and ends. Our conversation swayed into the gospel and what our goal as missionaries is (which is to make others happy and try to bring others closer to their father in heaven). We told them our purpose, and the conversation lead more into the gospel and became almost like a "second class". That night, we gave away a good amount of copies of the book of Mormon in Arabic and French. I don't have a message or a theme behind this story, I simply really enjoyed the experience and the new friends that I made. 

Have a Happy Halloween! Eat lots of candy for me. No pictures today, but I'll send more next week. 
я вас люблю!

-Elder Johnson.