Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 3, 2013

Hola Familia,
Sorry i didnt write yesterday, because of the Holiday they moved our pday to tuesday. Anyway, thanks for all of your letters and the pictures you send. I love hearing about your lives, honestly it helps me alot to know that you are all doing well. Sorry for not being able to write you all back specifically, I really want to but I dont have alot of time... but I will send letters. But really, thanks for writing!
So Elgin... It is great! I really love this city, our area is not too big, we can get from one end to the other in about 30 min. There are 2 other sets of elders in our branch, one in carpentersvile and one in south elgin. The people here are really nice and very friendly. Most people are willing to talk with us and let us practice our spanish. Right now we are working really hard to make our little spanish branch into a ward. There are only a couple families that consistantly come to church each sunday and hold the branch together. The branch president, Pres. Rios is an AMAZING man! His family dedicates so much time to serving the Lord and they have really strong testimonies. There are a few members that are nice enough to sacrifice their time to come with us on appointments... and our mission leader, Hermano Portocarero, is really helpful and devoted. I never realized before how many people need to be involved in order to make a branch and mission successful. Its amazing and inspiring to me that so many people are willing to sacrifice their time to serve. I know they are blessed but I want to express my appreciation to everyone that gives their time and effort to building up their ward and helping the missionaries.
Anyway, we have quite a few recent converts (and people that have only been members for a few years) that are menos activo - less active or inactive. To be honest, we have more inactives than actives. It gives me a lot of respect for those people that grow up in a church outside of Utah, I never realized how easy it was because all of my friends went to church. But here, a lot of the youth we work with, have to fight to be memebers. And its even harder because many times they are from part member homes or their parents dont support them. I cant imagine how difficult that would be. So we have been working with alot of inactives and less active women and families. It is really hard for me to see people fall away from the church becuase I am just now realizing how difficult it is to bring someone into it... Anyway, the families are always very nice and many times they invite us in and offer us food (a lot of Mexican food) and we teach a lesson. I have some peoples lives change because we were willing to spend a couple hours a week helping them feel the spirit agian. Its really an amazing blessing for me, I think I am beginning to understand what it feels like to be an instrument in the Lords hands.
This week we taught Daniel Baraja, the nephew of a recent convert. He is staying with her family for a few years and we started teaching him the week I got here. We sat him down and started teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then we felt like we should ask him how he really felt about everything. Because often we come to visit the family and talk, and eat and teach... we told him that really we were there for him. Because we want to teach him and help him understand his purpose on this earth, and to help him develop a relationship with his Heavenly Father, etc. And we extended a baptisimal commitment... and it was terrifying.
But he accepted! The date is Sep. 28. He said that he knows what we have taught is is true and the right thing for his life. He knows that living this way makes him happy and he wants to progress. There is still alot more that we need to teach him and he needs to gain a testimony of, but he has a date and a goal. And he is truly understanding the blessings that the gospel has to offer.
For personal study this morning, I studied about families. I have learned alot while on my mission but the greatest blessing I have received is a stronger appreciation for my family. I love you guys more than you will ever know. We meet and talk to so many people everyday. Everyone has challenges and struggles in their lives. It breaks your heart to see people that suffer so much. And I have come to find that the greatest problems often stem from family relationships. The prophet has always said that Satan is making a concentrated atack on families but i never realized how true this was until I come here. He is working so hard to destroy families because he knows how important they are to Gods plan. I feel like so much hard ache and pain in the world could be improved if people understood the importance of their family.
I learned: family is the most important social unit on this earth and in the eternities. Parents have a responsibility to raise their family with a foundation in the gospel. (2 Ne 25:26, Jacob3:10, Mosiah 4:15, D&C 68:25; 93:40). In D&C 130:2 it says that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy. The way i understand this is that the joy and love that we receive with our families on this earth will be coupled with an eternal joy and happiness that im pretty sure we cant comprehend. I love this gospel and I am so very blessed to have an eternal family. I couldnt ask for any greater blessing than to have a family that loves me so much!! Thank you for your wonderful examples and your faithfulness. I am so thankful that we get to be an eternal family!! And even though it is hard for me to be away from you, I receive motivation from knowing that no matter what happens, we can be together forever. And if i can help someone else, in Chicago, feel this same joy, than all my time will be worth the sacrifice. 
I love you guys more than you know! Thanks for your letters and prayers. Thanks for your examples and your love!
PMG pg. 85 says "Heaven is a continuation of an ideal home."   I dont really know what that would look like, but I cant wait to experience it :)
Love Hermana Johnson
PS  if you ever send a letter, or package, send it to the mission office, and they will send it to me.
I dont think that I need anything... maybe some pictures if you havent sent them yet.
(and some yoga workouts from melissa if you have a min... with all this mexican food i have gained a little weight.)

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