Failure is only failure if you keep it that way...week 88

Monday, April 24, 2017

This week was a tough one. We didn't have too many people at church this week, and some of our investigators are struggling a little bit. That's the hard part, but let me tell you how it gets better.
I was sitting in sacrament, trying to keep my thoughts off of the fact that we didn't have nearly as many people as usual, trying to convince myself that it's just a bit of an off week. It rained a lot. A lot of people are getting sick. As I was struggling to stay afloat, the hymn began. I don't remember what the words were, but as I was singing, I felt a prompting to look around and think. As I did so, I saw strong members, working through their challenges, helping their children stay reverent as possible. My thoughts were led to wondering: "What if these were my children?" I know that this is a strange question at first, especially considering that I don't have any children period. The feeling of hope overwhelmed me though. I saw so much power for good surrounding me. We were there, and we are respectively trying our hardest to keep the commandments. A song of need and desire flowed as we all plead in our hearts for the peace that comes in forgiveness and in promised blessings, also known as covenants. I was so happy that I forgot all those little things that didn't matter. I saw my companion as an amazing teacher that had been helping me through struggles that he didn't even know about let alone understand fully. I thought about the strength of faith that comes in covenants, knowing that we all believed the same stuff, the same God, the same Savior, and the same Plan.

Nothing that I say is original or new. Nothing I say can change someone else. I can stand as a witness though, and then you can know that they only possible way to lose is when you give up. Don't let the scoffing and scorning from the great and spacious building shame you, nor let the mists of darkness blind you from the ultimate goal of JOY! Use the tools you have been given, and find hope in it. The scriptures are true not just because they are there. It is because of who caused it to be written and what his purposes were: to bring to pass YOUR immortality and eternal life.

That was me trying to describe what happened all because I sang a song. Pretty amazing what small and simple things can do:) Never give up your hope in Christ for something of infinitely less worth.
If the gospel sounds repetitive to you, it's because you have ceased to be amazed with just how amazing the promises are. We are not joking when we promise a blessing from God. We need to take the gospel more seriously. Otherwise, we will become like those who fall and wander into forbidden and strange paths. The Tree of Life is RIGHT THERE!

I ate a lot of food this was a bad idea...
We went to Korean BBQ (must try...) with Elder Love and his trainee plus we also WENT TO THE TEMPLE on Friday with our district. Twas much fun. I will send you the template for suit measurements next week. I also found a random picture from FOREVER ago (Thanksgiving last year).

This is a picture of Ian and Elder Darrington in Sheung Shui: 

Notes from Mom:  Ian responded to a few other brief emails, which included our talking about safety in Simon's mission, but we are faithful and hopeful and understand the blessings of obedience.  Ian does too:    "Elder Johnson goes home June 16th (his birthday...). Simon will be protected according to his obedience. You might want to point out that this means being home ON TIME and not wasting time with members. It's hard sometimes, but he will know the spirit AND the letter of the law as he keeps the rules of the mission and becomes more familiar with the Holy Ghost. I have seen a couple of scorpions, and there was once a cobra in another missionary's hallway outside the apartment. No one has ever been hurt by these kinds of things on this mission though. They almost seem to just avoid the missionaries. The biggest problem would be big dogs in the new territories. I mean HUGE. They are easily twice as big as Ozzie. Always chained up though... Hopefully I didn't just freak you out. No need to worry about this kind of stuff:) Simon just needs to avoid any missionary that would try to mess with the animals. Jacob 6:12...always Jacob 6:12."  As a mom, I appreciate Ian's counsel even more as it is advice from one loving brother to another.  He added several pictures on google mail. Patience is a virtue, but here they are now:

Suffer the little children...week 87

Monday, April 17, 2017

Before the inspiring experiences of the week, quick update for all:

2) Today is Elder Zachery Love's birthday! Turning 22 this year and going strong! I remember the days of finding, teaching, baptizing, etc with this awesome servant of the Lord. He's like an older brother to me. Those 8 months together were not wasted in any way whatsoever. He taught me things that I will never forget.

Notes from Mom:  Simon opened his call on Friday and has been called to the Mexico Saltillo mission.  He reports to the Mexico Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, August 29.  Ian gets home August 19 so we have 10 days of everyone together.  We are so excited!  

This Sunday, my heart was touched by a young boy named Sebastian. His parents are less active. His grandma is in the process of being reactivated. We met with him before church very early in the morning with his grandma. She has been struggling, though she didn't say to much in front of her grandson. This young boy, in the middle of the lesson, and plainly said: "I just have one Jesus the Son of God?" A little surprised, we answered in the affirmative. He smiled real wide and his entire body was shaking with excitement. We gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. We told him that they were written on gold plates and translated by a prophet of God. He repeated his previous response. Then it got interesting...his grandma leaned over and told him to calm down and stop acting like that. She looked at us as if she was embarrassed and a little frustrated with her excited grandson. Mark 10:14 went immediately through my head: Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

I have two pleas with you my brothers and sisters. One, please never be ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16). Don't suppress those who are excited about the message of hope that has been restored. Rather, we should become as Sebastian, joyful and hopeful.
Two, read the Book of Mormon. I saw this young boy again outside after church on his way home. His mother guiding him along the road because he COULD NOT PUT THE BOOK DOWN! I started to cry, and immediately evaluated my own conversion to the gospel. NEVER LOSE FAITH IN THIS PERFECT GOSPEL! It is true. It is HIS, and so are we, each one a child of God.
I know that this is true. I love you all. Let us all press on in the work of the Lord.

Notes from Mom:  Ian also forwarded a picture with the following description:  
We visited this family just last week. Their oldest son is serving in Taiwan. Caleb is their next son. He'll be with me at BYU this fall. Going on a mission after 1 semester. Simon's age. Nice kid. Very athletic. Very faithful family. Mom just got called as the Relief Society president and he was just released as the second counselor of the branch presidency a few weeks ago. I wanted to ask, has your sister mentioned anyone by the name of Hawkins? They moved to Saudi Arabia a few weeks ago, and I'm wondering how they have been.

Ian and Elder Johnson with the Hyde family:

Tennis is fun...week 86

Monday, April 10, 2017

I just played a lot of tennis with a professional tennis player. Sure I got my trash kicked. Sure I am not very good. Doesn't matter though.
This is one of the nicest members ever. I will get a picture for y'all later of all of us at an oceanside court! 

For now, I'll just say that General Conference was everything that I hoped for and MORE! I actually had a list of questions almost a page long. EVERY SINGLE ONE WAS ALMOST DIRECTLY QUOTED BY A SPEAKER AND ADDRESSED! Each was also relayed in a way that helped me to know for a fact that it was true.
Don't you just love having the Holy Ghost as your best friend...if he isn't your best friend yet, MAKE IT HAPPEN!
I don't have a favorite talk. Every single one I was inspired by. The music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was, as always, a spiritual standing ovation!

Saw Elder Belknap at General Conference! I also saw sister Terry a week ago for a baptism (Forgot to take pictures...or mention it last week...woops...). We are still going strong here with the most fantastic Branch in the entire world. A lot of friends from India and Bangladesh came together and it was amazing to chat with them for a while after the conference. They are such great and kind people!

Elder Johnson's got some scary features in that last one...I love my companion!

Notes from Mom:  Our family has been able to resume our Sunday evening walks now that it snows less frequently.  I sent Ian a picture of the moon rising.  It was remarkably clear.  He said, "Something I miss...clean air. I don't think I have seen a clear moon for my entire mission. I once got really excited in Sheung Shui when I saw 4 stars at the same time."  

We sent Ian a package this week, filled with some Easter goodies for him and Elder Johnson.  I know it was delivered and signed for, but asked if he got it.  "Couldn't go today. I went and played tennis with a member who is sponsored by Prince. Super Fun! We had tacos afterwards (SO GOOD!).
Elder Stratford said that he would bring it down to the Wan Chai chapel sometime this week though, so I will get it in time :)"

"I don't know if you have become friends with Brother Jeff Johnson yet, but he took us to a REALLY nice place and got us ribs! Best ribs any of us have ever had!"

The work is not hastened by full time missionaries alone...week 85

Monday, April 3, 2017

This week was probably the most joyful week of my mission. Monday, I saw Brother Ng Chun Kuen from a year ago in Tai Wai that I baptized.

He's got the Einstein look for an Asian. Super cool looking. Had some vegetarian food which was delicious. Then when we thought we were done eating, we switched over to the next restaurant and he bought an entire roast duck...Lots of food. Still doing really well. There's no happier moment than to see him politely discuss with the waitress how we DON'T DRINK TEA! She just wasn't getting it. We had to ask the owner of the restaurant for some water (hot as always:)). 

We taught a ton this week. Served a lot of people, and met a new family from India. Funny thing. The dad's first name is Britto (if you don't roll the R it sounds like "Burrito") and his last name is the Book of Mormon one...we laughed about that after the lesson. We are super excited for this family. They showed up after having received a lot of encouragement from their family in America who are members to go to church and try it out. We scheduled them for that Saturday.
Their home felt a lot like mine did. Loud kids, sometimes even screaming, but a desire to listen, share, learn, and grow was present.
They have two sons. One is 5 the other is 2.

This is what I reported to the mission president: So this week may have been the most successful week of my mission. I don't know about numbers wise, but as far as the way I felt, it was AMAZING! Sunday was definitely the climax of the entire thing. We had a lot of people at church, our fast proved to be unified and powerful for the sake of one of our investigators who had originally been having a really big conflict and was angry at us. He came that day to church telling us that his concerns had "evaporated." I know that fasting is powerful, but I learned something about it this week. Having a companion who is united with you in fasting is POWERFUL.
We had another investigator who came with his wife and children. He is very prepared. In Elders Quorum, our branch mission leader will start the whole thing off by asking for anyone to share a missionary experience they had that week. After a couple of people shared, this investigator rose his hand and said that he had one from the opposite perspective and had the elders over and that they shared about the Book of Mormon and the Family: A Proclamation to the World. We went to a dinner gathering at the branch president's home later that night and everyone was joking about it and laughing and asking us what it was like and wondering what their family was like. We had probably 3 different families offer to help teach them or have them over for dinner. Sunday School Class was amazing and we had probably 7 branch missionaries there as well as 3 recent converts, a person who just got baptized yesterday, and 5 investigators!

I love God. He really is my Father and your Father. I have struggled to comprehend more and more about his character and grace. I'm therefore very grateful for modern day prophets seers and revelators that regularly instruct us on these things. I wish I could do that.
Imagine. I would really want to just retire at 40 (or maybe even sooner if possible) and just be ready for callings. Do what Alma did when the work in his nation was slowing down. He left the judgment seat and put his all into spreading the Gospel. I hope to keep this kind of dedication to God as my first priority. I would invite all to do the same.

PS This elevator went 40 floors in about 8 seconds. Craziest elevator I have ever been in. SO MANY FLOORS!

Notes from Mom:  I gave Ian some spoilers for General Conference and told him that traditions continue.  Ian won't see Conference until next weekend, once it is translated to Cantonese. The boys went with Bryan and friends to the Priesthood session and out to eat.  This time was Cracker Barrel.  Ian's response:  "Filipino words always seem to be so hard to remember. HASHBROWN CASSEROLE!!!!! That will be my first meal outside of the house. As for opening it, I didn't think it was so much who I was with as how fast I opened it. I would say that he shouldn't wait...for anyone. I LOVE THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR!"

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