Monday, February 27, 2017

A Great Week of Happiness

This week has been pretty good. Sorry about the short letter last week. 

This week Elder Houghton and I have been putting together a conference at one of the biggest universities in Krivoy Rog, where we will be having our mission president speaking. It's been pretty crazy putting together the conference with the college. We are anticipating a lot of professors and students coming from different universities from all of Europe. The conference will be happening in two days, and on the third day the college wants us to speak at the conference. Unfortunately Elder Houghton and I won't be doing that since we have some meetings in another city but the other missionaries in our area will be getting to it so it's all good.  We are pretty excited to say the least.

We also have been working with the UNHCR (The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in teaching people who have fled the war zone and are trying to settle into Krivoy Rog. We've been having a great time working with them and helping them develop their free english program. We have been having a great outcome from that with our English practice and even if we didn't, it's a great service for these good people here. Our English classes have gotten significantly better lately. Houghton and I decided that our main goal with these English classes is to simply have fun, unless asked otherwise. Any person (especially those who are in a not so good situations) could really use the laughter and good time. This week for one of our classes we had the class reenact famous movie scenes (for us we played “Luke, I am your father”, “fish are friends not food”, and another scene from Elf). Seeing some of our class playing Darth Vader and Luke in their thick Ukrainian accents in our conference room was probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I have also never seen a group of people so happy and laughing hard. So I think our goal was met. 

 I really enjoy doing this kind of work, mainly because we are bringing a good to the community. Even if people were not interested in our message, we are still doing good for the people around us. I love it! We have met with a lot of people after our English clubs though. Like Ammon (a person in the Book of Mormon), we have provided a good to the community and the hearts of the people are a lot more open to hearing our message and are even searching for our message. They are curious why we are here and are so keen on helping them.These moments have lead to some of the most spiritual discussions on my mission. We are currently going to have another baptism with a good friend named Jack (name has been changed for privacy and for the convenience of reading). Jack is super interested and has already read the Book of Mormon cover to cover. He is probably one of the most sincere people I have met here in Ukraine. Working with him, and others has been a blessing in my life and I look forward to continue working with people in this wonderful city. 

I love you all folks, do something nice. 

-Elder Cody Johnson

I guess we need to get Elder Johnson a quilt with us on it and a Razorback flag.  We are slacking!  

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Couple Of Baptisms & A Phone Number.

This week has been great! We had two baptisms in our branch this last Saturday.

The people (most of them) here really like us. I was in McDonalds with my companion and I was wiping my mouth on a napkin and then I noticed that the waitress had written her phone number on it...oops hahah. 

English club has been great as well. Everything here seems to be working out great. 

Elder Johnson

Monday, February 13, 2017

Becoming An English Teacher.

Photo from his first area.  Thanks again to Nika Udoltsova for sending us this photos.  

So this area is pretty crazy, I love it. This place is young in regards to missionary work, and doesn't have a "Mormon stigma” because missionaries weren't here before and we have started on the right foot with them. We are very focused on doing "undercover" missionary work. Since it's like that, we go by our first names a lot. It's really weird to hear someone call me by my first name instead of "elder". That's been the only hard thing to adjust to here. Aside from that this area is super fun. People here love to talk to us and are very willing to be our friends. The work here is quite unique as well. We have been teaching a lot of English and using that as a very effective tool. We have about 100-120 people come to our English classes. We are often making deals with businesses and universities about whether or not we can hold big seminars. It's pretty fun in all honesty. It is definitely a different kind of vocabulary to learn in Russian. We've currently been working with coffee shops all over the city to hold English classes and little seminars. This week we have a meeting with the biggest company in the city to teach their employees in English. So we have a lot of interesting work ahead of us.

Now this may not sound like missionary work, in fact, this sounds more like an English school/business we're running. The work here is a little different, and I was skeptical about the unconventionality of this kind of work myself. However, we've seen a lot of success out of this. We had 7 "investigators" (friends of ours who aren’t members of the church) come to church and have 4 baptisms lined up for the next 20 days. It's been pretty interesting to see how it all works out. We become good friends with the people, and then offer them an invitation to learn about the gospel, which is the main reason we are here, and then the rest is up to them. I guess if there's anything to learn from this is, people will be more keen on listening to a friend than a from a stranger. I'm excited to continue to work here in Crooked Horn.

I love you all and I hope you all have a great Valentines Day. Give the person you love something nice! (not Valentines candy, it's disgusting)


--Elder Cody Lee Johnson

Monday, February 6, 2017

Hairball & Being Transferred To A New Area

Thank you to Nika Udaltsova for sending this photos of Elder Johnson to us.  :)

Good morning everyone! Or evening depending on where you are.  

This week we have received our transfer calls. Tomorrow, I'll be heading to the southern section of our mission, into a little city called Kreevoy Rog (Crooked Horn). I haven't been there yet, but I’ve heard that there are about 6 members there and they meet in a hotel conference room for church. I have also been assigned as the zone leader in the south zone (there are three zones in the mission. North, central, and south.) I'm a little nervous to be "in charge" of the southern cities, but it's going to be cool. I heard my new companion is a kid from Texas and is a total workhorse, so that will be fun. I'm excited to meet him. I'm beyond excited to be heading to a new area, though I am going miss the awesome people here. I'm also excited to see what will be next on this adventure called a mission. I'm sure I’ll have a lot to say about this new area in the next weekly email. 

A lot of this week has been prepping our area for transfers. Elder Anderson and I opened up a new apartment for missionaries and worked on that apartment almost all week (gutting the it, putting in furniture, painting, and fighting any creatures we found in the dark realms of 'old apartment storage'). So all in all, it has been a pretty fun week.

I can't say that anything too profound has happened this week, unless you count the giant hairball of an unknown animal, which was in the new apartment's flowerpot.  I'd elaborate more on the other phenomenon we found there, but I have to pack today.  I love you all and wish you all the best this week. Be sure to try to find an opportunity to serve those around you, in whatever forms it may be. I promise you'll feel pretty great afterwards (even if there's a giant hair ball involved). 

With Love, 

Elder Cody L. Johnson