Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26 Part B

We received a letter from Vance's mission president and it included this picture of all the missionaries that arrived the day Vance did.  The letter also expressed the desire of church authorities to limit the number of packages that we send to our missionaries and also the amount of money available to them from their personal accounts back home.  We need to be mindful that there are missionaries out there who rarely even get a letter from home, let alone packages on a regular basis.  I will send one package this Friday (since we sent his Christmas package to the MTC before he left) and the next package will be for his birthday in August.
Vance is in the center back row.  Can you see him?

December 26

The letter did find me well. I dont really know exactly what that means but yeah. It was so good to talk to everyone yesterday afternoon! I loved to see what everyone got even though I cant believe marly got an iPhone!!! That is still trippin me out. I am super excited to see how far technology will be when I get home. My christmas here was good, but interesting. It was definitely nothing like a christmas at home.

Christmas here starts on the 24th and the people stay up till midnight and celebrate christmas like the minute it starts. Almost like the new year. They eat dinner as a family at around 11pm and then they do fireworks (SO MANY FIREWORKS) at midnight and then they eat pan dulce (sweet bread) and stuff. Its interesting to celebrate it a different way. So we got invited to go to a recent converts house for dinner on the 24th and they wanted to help us have a good christmas since we were away from our families. So we went over there at like 730 pm and at dinner. But since they dont eat till like 11 they just served us food and watched us eat. It was awkward and they would ask us if it was good after almost every bite. The food was pretty good though. Even if it was a bit wierd. The people here dont really eat vegetables at all. On almost every plate of food you get from a native it has lots of green pepper and onion though. So its still good. So after we ate at that house, we went to our 2nd dinner appointment with the Bishop at around 9. At his house he had his whole family and then the stake president and his family with them too. And they had so much food! They had turkey that they made just for the elders. They dont like it too much but they knew that americans liked it. Then they had barbacoa and some other type of beef steak meat that was really good. A really common side dish here in Paraguay is called Sopa Paraguaya and almost everyone has it with every meal. The closest thing i can relate it to is Corn Bread but it isnt sweet and it has onions and queso paraguayo in it and I am not a big fan of it. But i eat it because it would be rude not to. So we ate with the bishop and his family and they had the best Guarana soda that i have ever had here! I didnt know what guarana was before i came to paraguay but if you find it there in america, try it! I loooooooooove it. And they had the chuchi pepsi brand. Pepsi just got brought back to Paraguay, but they dont have diet (sorry mom). 

So then after we ate there it was past 930 and we had to run home on a full stomach of 2 dinners and it was tough haha. But then Sunday morning we woke up and had a baptism! It was pretty cool to have a baptism on Christmas day. What better gift can you give to the Lord? So after that we had our 1 hour of sacrament meeting and then us elders (4 of us live in the same ward) made a christmas meal for ourselves at the other elders house because it is bigger. We made Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Fruit Salad (paraguay style), peach cobbler and we went big and bought real sprite. Real sprite is pretty chuchi around here. But it was worth it. The whole meal came out to around 68,000 guarani. Which in American dollars is like 18 dollars hahahaha. Split between 4 people it was a pretty good meal for not too much money. We get 750,000 guarani per month for food and such. 

So that was my Christmas and it wasnt like normal but we made it fun. I hope everyone else had a great christmas and tell Derek I said happy birthday! 

Les Quiero!!!!

Christmas Day Baptism
Christmas gift to themselves, a trip to McDonalds

Must have been a rainy day

December 25

We were able to Skype with Vance for our Christmas phone call.  Everyone got to visit with him for a few minutes.  To see his face was so awesome and see that he is still the same boy we sent off back in September.  He laughed when he heard Derek repeat "I Love Vance" because when he left, Derek couldn't hardly say two words.  Oh, this Christmas call was the best part of the day for this mama.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 19

Hello family! I am so proud of you Mom for graduating! The picture you sent is awesome although i think Drew is wearing the ASU shirt that I bought, (subsequently would mean he got into my box. :( ) But its all good. I hope nothing else got taken out of there. I dont think I want my ukulele anymore because it is against the rules to have a musical instrument in this mission and i probably forgot how to play anyways. But i am getting a new mission president in July so maybe i will ask for it then. But i would also need a tuner so i probably wont ever ask for it. Thank you though. How is Brandon doing on his mission papers?! I hope he gets them in soon, i cant wait for him to get on the mission. He is going to be an awesome missionary! 

I got a letter from Lyndee today! I am sending one out on Wednesday so she can expect it in about 3 weeks. Thats how long it took to get to me here. 

Mother, Bo Chapman would like my emails sent to him because I cant email him directly and so if you could forward these to him at joseph.chapman(at)myldsmail.netthat would be awesome. Thank you. Maybe once i get a new mission president i will be able to write him. who knows?

So some crazy things happened this week. Every day that something wierd happens i write in my planner so that I can remember what things i want to put in my email. haha so here it goes.

1. Everyone in my area thinks its super funny to ask us Americans for 1000 dollars. Pretty much everyone thinks we are super rich and they always ask us for money. Kind of annoying. Especially when we invite investigators to church and they say they arent rich like us and have to work on sundays.

2. My very first street contact in the mission field was a guy named Julio and he lives right across the street from my area so we gave the other elders in my ward his reference and they went and visited him. he was following through with commitments and stuff all the way up to when the elders went to go pick him up for church at 8 30 in the morning and he was drinking! We cant have a guy that is drunk in the church so they said they would come back on tuesday. on tuesday he was sober (more or less) and he told them that the reason he drinks is because a doctor put a spell on him to drink! He doesnt like to drink so he went to a wizard to have the spell taken off and the wizard had him take off all his clothes except for his underwear and washed him with raw eggs but that didnt work so the wizard gave up and said the spell was too strong. So now this guy is forced to be a drunk. But its not his fault because he is under a spell. So yeah. That was my first contact. 

3. Youth give prayers in church here.

4. Last tuesday I was trying to make a street contact and a lot of times people do whatever they can to avoid us and this guy as i said hola hermano como esta jumped into the road and almost got hit by a bus and then started yelling at me! I couldnt stop laughing at him which made him even more mad. oh man paraguayans are so funny when they dont want their eternal salvation. 

So that is what was funny or interesting this week. The other elders had a baptism yesterday which was pretty cool and me and my comp have a baptism date for this sunday! Christmas baptism! What greater gift can you give to the Lord than to be baptized on christmas? This year will be great. Other than that, this week was pretty normal. 

Tomorrow me and my comp have to go into Asuncion for some new missionary training and we are going to stop at the one and only MCDONALDS! Its our christmas gifts to ourselves this year. I told him it reminded me of christmas at home. :) 

So you should call me at NOON your time. I hope that works out for everyone. . That is 4 oclock here. I will be waiting in the bishops office at exactly 4. I am not going to try and use skype. I dont want to because it is just too sketchy. The internet isnt very fast and i think we can have a higher quality conversation on the phone. That is what its about anyways, quality over quantity.

The mission is great, my life is great. The language barrier is being broken down piece by piece. Our numbers arent high but it is better to build up Gods Kingdom than to fill it. Remember that. I love you all!!!!!!! 

No idea what that is.
I love you all and hope christmas is great!
A bowl of meat?

Santa sighting very rare, even more rare, he is playing the saxaphone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 12

I did not get a letter from Vance this week.  He wrote his dad and asked him a few questions that made it seem like he was having a hard time.  How could he not be?  He was going through culture shock and the reality that this will be his life for the next 21 months.  Like the sweet boy he is, he did not want to worry me (or I'm assuming that is why he didn't write to me).  I worried more about him this week as I knew the language and culture would be difficult to get used to, and I hope his letter next week will be better.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5 - First e-mail from Paraguay

FAMILY!!! (and friends),

Its true, I am alive and well. Paraguay is nuts! Mother, I am writing in a journal and have only missed two days of my mission so far even though they were both in the mtc and all my entries about the mtc are the same haha. But yeah its different here, a lot different. 

So starting on monday the 28th the day i left. sorry for the bad punctuation, it bugs me a lot but i cant do anything about it on this computer. so monday the 28th we left the mtc at about 10:20ish and drove in a charter bus to the airport. from there we flew to dallas tx and chilled for a little while until we got on the biggest plane i had ever been on to fly to brazil. so we fly all night long to brazil and i could not sleep at all. it wasnt nervousness or anything I just could not get comfortable. but its ok because like none of us could sleep so we all just talked. and they let us get up and walk around and sit on the ground next to our friends or whatever so we did that. So we land in Brazil on tuesday morning at around 9 am brazil time. so we get off the plane and barely anyone speaks spanish, only portuguese. So we had to figure out where to go by reading portuguese signs and stuff so that was interesting. but we made it and still had about 3 hours to spare. so we laid on benches and took naps. brazil was pretty cool looking from what i could see from the airport but mostly all i saw was the tarmac and it just looked like any other airport. and the sao paulo airport was nothing like an american airport. well kinda, but really ghetto. anyways. so we finally get on a plane to paraguay land in asuncion 3 hours later. 

The first thing i notice is how hot it is. I was missing the heat so much. Provo was so stinkin cold i hated it. so i met president Callan and his wife in the airport and then the office elders who drove us back to the mission office. we got to the mission office and then had some dinner. we had what is called Milanesa. Its this big huge piece of meat that is covered in some kinda sauce that i didnt know what it was and then some wierd mashed potatoes and then the best orange juice i had ever had. so that was interesting, its a true paraguayan meal i guess. so then we had some orientation stuff and president interviews. then we finally got to go to bed in the mission office. there is like a room with some bunk beds that we all slept on. 

The next day we had some more orientation stuff and then we met our trainers and our companions for the next twelve weeks! my comp is named Elder N. and he is from California. He is really cool and teaching me a lot. So then we got in a taxi and took off to our area.

My area is called Lucerito. We have a ward here and 4 elders in this area but each companionship lives in a different house. we have i think 3 other companionships in our zone and stake but they live in a different area so we will only see them at district meetings and stuff like that. 

So some cool stuff that happened this week. My very first day I did a contact in spanish! That was pretty cool. I was pretty comfortable with my spanish when I left the mtc so it wasnt too scary but i was a little nervous. we have to do 20 contacts a day so its not even scary anymore. we only contact men and not usually young men so its tough sometimes to find people to talk to. But yeah our lessons were pretty good. we have a recent convert named E. who we teach and she is really nice. We also found a family that the wife was baptized when she was 14 or something and she has been inactive ever since and she is now probably 35 or something. so we teach her and her husband. The two times we have been at her house she has made us peach juice that is so good! She just takes a can of peaches in the syrup and everything and puts it all in a blender and then thats the juice! its sooooooooooooooooo good. i highly recommend it. 

Church was interesting. It was fast sunday so we had testimony meeting and the guy who was conducting asked me by name to bare my testimony from the pulpit! hahaha so yeah i did that. that was funny. then there wasnt a teacher for gospel principles class so us 4 elders taught and we taught two new converts about the millenium. hahah i didnt say anything. our distict leader is from mexico so he taught because his spanish is the best. 

so yeah thats about all that happened. my area is really wierd. some people will be driving around in brand new cars like nice cars and then on the other side of the road you have a guy with his horse cart picking up plastic to recycle for money. crazy stuff. but most people are nice and when we ask if we can come visit them later they always say "no hay problema" so thats cool. but then they are never home. we walk a lot. tomorrow i am taking my first public transportation to district meeting. the streets are crazy. lots of motorcycles and now speed limits or anything. i saw 4 people on a motorcycle with the mom holding a baby in one hand and groceries in the other hand. crazy stuff.

i will attach some pictures from this week of my apartment and of me and my comp.

The church is true, even in paraguay. testimony meeting was awesome. there arent many life long members in this area but everyone that comes to church every week is very strong in the church. everything is good and i will talk to you next monday! attach píctures to emails!

First Photos from Paraguay

I have heard from good sources that in order to protect the privacy of our missionaries, we are not to post the names of the people in the pictures.  So, having said that, from here on out, I will not be naming them.  This is his kitchen in his apartment in Lucerito.
 This is his first companion in the field, Elder N.

November 25th - Last e-mail from MTC

Its all good. this week has been nuts and its tough to write people back. and yesterday was in field orientation and so i was busy all day. i'm thinking it will be even worse in the field and i'll acutally have to obey the rules and only write on p day. thats a rule here too. but its pretty grey. I did get the package! Thank you so much! hahaha i'm having fun with the tape recorder already. so do you guys have one too so that you can hear what i'm saying or what? are you going to send me tapes too?
Thats cool that thanksgiving went well. thanksgiving here in the ccm is crazy. all the meals on normal days are spread out pretty well so that everyone eats a different times and there usually isn't a huge line but here on thanksgiving everyone (almost) ate at the same time and the line for food went out the door into the hallway and that was crazy. when i finally got to the food, it was almost a let down. but it was good. the turkey made me really tired.
Drew will be fine haha. its better to be rounded in high school. just playing basketball might make him hate it eventually. but i don't ever feel that way with running and thats year round. hmmm, maybe he wouldn't. who knows. thats awesome that he is playing jv! tell him to make sure his grades stay up!
Thats too bad about Florida but football season feels like it should be over haha. it seems like is has been going forever. (I told him about his little sisters not going to Florida with the cheer squad).
anyways, yesterday was in field orientation where we sat in this big room with all the missionaries that are leaving this week and we learned about stuff that wasn't really taught in classes all day. like how to work with the members. that is a big thing that missionaries do and we never learn about how to do it till the end of your stay here. it was a long day but it wasn't all boring.
today is my final p day and then tomorrow i get released as zone leader. i don't know who is going to take over for me yet and i'm really interested.
all my friends who are on missions are doing fantastic. they are all great examples to me. i can't wait to get in the field and actually work! i don't feel like i'm on a mission yet so hopefully leaving the country will flip that switch.
Everyone is always saying "i can't wait to get back to real life" one of my teachers told me to think about real life and how trivial things outside are a mission are. The mission is real life. The mission is the only time that you know that you are doing exactly what the lord wants you to do all the time. I know the church is true. I love you all. The next email will be from PARAGUAY

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 18, 2011

Oh yes my FBI clearance, thank you. I actually got my travel plans already so they were telling the truth when they said that they were going to let my travel without it. It was pretty funny to see my whole district get travel plans last night because everyone went nuts. And last night was the first time i felt like i am on a mission. These last 8 weeks (yeah its been 8) haven't felt like i was on a mission but now it is starting to feel that way. i'm pretty sure it will really set in once i actually leave. so i'm leaving provoat 2:20 pm on monday november 28th and then going to Dallas. In Dallas is probably the only chance i'm going to have to call home and my layover there is from 5:20 to 7:40 i think. So thats when i'm going to call home on Monday November 28th. Then after Dallas we head to Sao Paulo, Brazil and thats a 13 hour flight so we get there at like 9 in the morning or something and chill there for 4 hours and then fly the last two hours to Paraguay and get to pararguay at like 4 in the afternoon on Tuesday. Pretty crazy. I'm excited to go to Brazil but not excited to spend four hours in a country where everyone sounds like they are speaking spanish but I just can't understand it. We have a friendly (at times) relationship with the portuguese speakers here in the mtc. spanish and portuguese are so close to the same that we argue about which language is better. last night though i asked one of the portuguese teachers what I should say when I get to brazil and he said "yo quiero coshina" or something like that. I guess coshina (there is a tilde on that n) is a really good fried sugary dough ball or something. I'll try it i guess. maybe. So that has been the highlight of my week. Other than that this week was basically the same. my spanish is getting better still but very slowly nowadays. we are learning the subjunctive tense and it is difficult. its just more conjugations. and after reading what you wrote in spanish, mom, it looked really wierd to me for some reason and i couldn't figure it out but then i realized its because you were using the tu form and in the mtc we are taught not to because in the mission field you will always use the usted form. so thats all we practice. i know how to use the tu form though and it just looks like too many s's for me haha. and in spanish you laugh like this "jajaja" since there is no h sound it would just be "a a a a"

Katy and Tawny are still cheering? woah that seems like its been going forever. thats cool that they are going to California though. Florida would be so cool too though. I got letters from Drew, Dad, Sky, You, and marly this week so you all can expect a letter back. and if you are my friends reading this if you sent me a letter i'll send you one back today too.

Estoy animado por la oportunidad yo tengo compartir el evangelio con la gente de paraguay. ojala puedo dar un libro de mormon en el aeropuerto en texas o brazil jaja. probablemente no brazil. no se que decir. jaja. yo siempre olvido a decir cuando estoy en la computadora. estoy limpiando mis ropas ahora. yeah i really don't know what else to say. lo siento. i'll be able to speak better spanish on the phone.

les amo


Friday, November 11, 2011

November 11, 2011

Hola madre.

lo siento pero mi carta esta semana es solamente en espanol. jajaja solamente un chiste.  Translation: I'm sorry but my letter this week is only in spanish.  ha ha ha only joking.

So this week was pretty much the same as every other weeek. nothing really new to say. But! I have been in total spanish mode. This week in my district its consecration week, entonces i have only said probably 20 words in english all week. starting last monday. its pretty cool that i actually can survive here in only spanish. i love it. its been tough though. i can't really talk about things that don't pertain to missionary work because i don't know how. so i have been a little more dillegent this week because i didn't know how to talk about things that would get my off task. except for "yo quiero a dormir." i'm good at saying i want to sleep. but its been a good week. i had the chance to talk to actual non members this week! it was sweet. they were people interviewing for an "acting investigator" job here at the mtc and so us as missionaries were part of the interview process. its so tough to get a job here. so we asked them all these deep questions about there life like "what does love mean to you" "what do you think your purpose in life is" and "what do you believe happens after you die" remember this is only in spanish. so the catch was i wasn't allowed to teach them. i was only allowed to ask questions. that was way tougher than you think! all 3 that i talked to said that didn't know if there was a purpose to life and that nothing happened after you die! Its nearly impossibe to not start teaching them the plan of salvation! i tried to word my questions around so that it was like i was teaching them but it was tough with my limited amount of spanish knowledge. that experience was really eye opening and it heightened my desire to talk with people like that all the time. and another question i was supposed to ask them was "have you ever come in contact with the mormon church?" one person was like "never" and then i was like "where do you go to school?" and then she said "BYU" and i about said "abrie su ojos!" (open your eyes) but i didn't.

anyways, i got your letter madre and i will write back a hand written one today.

Before even reading this letter, I quickly replied, knowing he was sitting at the computer:

I love you so much!

Within moments I got this:

i love you too! jajajaja espanol.

Then I tried again:

It is like we are having a real conversation. I'm crying now!  (The tears were slowly falling down my cheek)

Then one more response from him:

no mas no mas. esta bien. yo voy a hablar con tu en como 2 semanas. no more, no more.  It is good.  I am going to speak with you in two weeks.  any news on my fbi clearance? i'm really getting off the computer for good now. lo siento. i need breakfast. le amo.

This mama started off her Veteran's Day on a good note!  Happy Veteran's Day.

Friday, November 4, 2011

November 4, 2011

Hola! I'm looking forward to a package! Hahaha Send the coat to Paraguay although I might never use it there. I have a lot of books and stuff that I have to take with me and I am not sure how i'm going to get all my stuff into my bags as it is. So the sweaters, two of them work really good. And I let one of the other elders in my district use one of them and I use a different one. And its crazy that you told me not to wash them because I totally almost did. But i didn't so, esta bien. I sometimes think of things I could use here and then totally forget to ask you about them. Anyways, mountain dew por favor. and a cameblack bladder. I will use it. I'm always dehydrated here and I don't know why. I play soccer for like 1 hour a day 3 times a week. Thats the extent of my physical exhertion.
I think its so funny that you are friends with Elder Rodeback's mom. He isn't my comp but he is in my room. Good guy. Haha yes, that phone call home will be good. I'll have to practice my spanish because everytime i get on the computer I plan to write something in spanish but then i forget everything. Just know that I do know a lot of spanish and I teach lessons to "investigators" every day in spanish. We have a thing here called "TRC" and every tuesday we go to a different building and teach lessons to volunteers who aren't pretending to be an investigator. They are just being themselves as members of the chuch but in spanish. most of them are returned missionaries. anyways, we teach them and they write feedback and last week me and my comp got a paper back that said "Thank you for bringing my closer to Christ through your lesson. Both of your spanish was great, especially Elder Johnson." That was a huge confidence booster for me! But I know that the Spirit was present in that lesson so I know it wasn't only me talking.
The empty fridge seems all too familiar. But you gotta love those PB and J's. I remember during my Junior year literally eating at least 4 of those a day. 2 right after XC practice in the morning and then 2 for lunch. Then I would usually come home and eat more after school. And I'm still only at 150 pounds. I have gained about 5 since I've been here so 155.
I just taught a lesson on the Sabbath day and it has strengthened my testimony on it. I love the day of rest. In spanish it is literally called " La dia de reposo" So yeah, although I think I appreciated it more during cross and track last year. Especially in my peak weeks of running 60 miles or more a week. That is when I appreciated sunday the most.
Anny! I will write you and Derek a letter this week. Probably today, so expect it in the mail monday or tuesday I think. I'm not really sure how fast the mail goes.
As for pictures, i'm glad you enjoy them. I will send my memory card of 200 plus pictures right before I leave the mtc. so like 3 weeks. 3 weeks!
I love you too mom and I look forward to this email all week. and I like your dear elders too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Letter October 28, 2011

Yeah Elder Rodeback told me that his mom met you! Thats awesome. He isn't my companion but him and his companion are in my same bedroom. He is a cool dude..erm...i mean elder. Thats cool that the mission president's wife has a blog. Whenever I think of missions I think that they are totally against technology but i'm glad to see some progressiveness. The no caffeine thing is pretty valiant of you. Thats nuts. I hope your headaches go away soon. I'm fortunate enough to never have a headache when i stop drinking caffeine. They sell caffeine free mtn dew and dr pepper here at the mtc and it suffices my need for mtn dew but it just isn't the same. When you send the next package with the big coat, some more mtn dew would be awesome. :) I loved the last time.
I'm glad Marly likes getting letters. I kinda felt wierd about her getting all those letters at the same time but esta bien. I don't think Elder Call or Elder Dockstader are going to write her back though. They say that they felt wierd about it and i was like whatever. But if she only writes two back make sure she writes Rushton and Weight. Those guys are the coolest. And Rushton lives really close to Logandale, Nevada. So she could probs see him again.
Derek is talking! haha thats so cool. Its only been a month! I wonder if he knows more english than I know spanish. haha probably not, I can understand a lof of spanish. I wish I could just speak it better.
I will write to Grams and brandon! Thanks for the addresses. Could you find out if Brandon took my ukulele to wherever he went? if he didn't could you get it and send it to me? I miss it. And on PDays I have so much time to play it.
Anyways, my week has been pretty bland. Everyday is the same here, which is a good and a bad thing. The spirit is strong everyday. We are almost done learning all the grammar principles in our book which is crazy but really cool. We go over them so fast that it will be nice to have a couple weeks just to review what I missed or have forgotten.
I've been teaching lessons to "investigators" in spanish since day 3 and I really look forward to teaching. The other day me and my comp taught la ley de castidad to our investigator miguel who already has a baptismal date. He said that he is living with his girlfriend and he doesn't know if he could live the law of chastity. So I told him that if he prays about it he'll get an answer and he'll know that living chastity will greatly bless his life. So the next day we went to check up on him and he said that he wasn't going to move out of his girlfriends house. we got all bummed real quick. but then he said HE IS GOING TO PLAN A WEDDING! Me and elder dockstader practically jumped for joy! It was awesome. Our investigators are just our teachers acting like a real person that they taught while on their missions. Its fun.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October 21

Hahaha i'm so happy to be here! And I can't stop using the nacho libre quotes. They just flow out of me when i'm trying to speak spanish and I can't think of the word to use. Thats cool that you are being the cool mom, where was that a couple months ago? (5) Just kidding, you're a cool mom.
Thats cool about the race! That sounds super sick. I miss running so much. One of my teachers is trying to walk on to the BYU track team as an 800 runner. Thats nuts. You gotta be so fast to do that. And I think i've decided that after my year at MCC after the mish I might want to come to BYU and then teach spanish at the MTC. That would be the coolest job ever. I've got the coolest teachers in the world. I will try to walk on at BYU as a steepler. Not many teams have a guy that speacializes in the steeple so that could work for my advantage.
I don't have a lot of time today, sorry. But tell people to write me dear elders and I can write them back a hand written letter that night. Love you!
PS: did you like the pics i sent? I'll send more soon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This is just like my boy

This is so like my little boy, sending us letters like this in the mail.  I suppose this is one aspect of his personality that I hope sticks around as the boy turns into a man on his mission.  I'm even more glad there was another letter in there that started Dear Mother and went on for two pages...
If you can't read it (I took the picture with my phone while hanging on the fridge), it says
 ¡Es muy importante!  I'm concerned about their salvation...and stuff.  -Nacho Libre
Love, Vance 

Friday, October 14, 2011

October 14 Pictures!!

We also get a real letter in the mail today, the third one we have gotten, he writes individual stuff to those that have written him.  But, in this envelope, there were also pictures.  Enjoy. I included the captions that he had written on the back.  His companion is Dockstader, who is from Florence, AZ, small world.

Top L-R Bradley, Call, Rodeback, Dockstader
Bottom: Gillins, Sherwood, Lund, Johnson
The senior comps are standing, we switch at 4.5 weeks

The Elders in my Residence Room, we aren't supposed
to call them dorms.

All the members of District 35A Most going to Paraguay, 4 of them
going to Salta, Argentina.  The Hermanas from L-R are:
Willnaver, Jones, Applegate
My companion is the one on the far right.

My desk
Note from mom:  I'm surprised it looks so clean.

October 14, 2011

(FYI, I don't know why it highlights it in white sometimes, it is really frustrating me because I can't seem to get rid of it.  Bear with me until I figure it out.)

Got this one at 5:55am:
But, just so you know my PDay is Friday and I'll either be writing you between 6 and 7 or between 3 and 4. Those are the times we can do laundry. And, about the sweaters, I have two that I wear to gym and stuff but I can't wear them with my shirt and tie. So yeah. But I am looking forward to the package with some church sweaters. And any word on Anyways, on to the email.
Ok, so I thought I had this great Idea to write my whole email in a journal entry on and then copy and paste it into the email to save email time. These computers are so restricted, copying and pasting doesn't even work. So gay. So heres the thing, i wrote a super long email and can't send it to you. But you can go online and read my study journal. the username is vancejohnson and the password is wrestler0. Sorry about that, but just copy and paste that schedule onto my blog or whatever. its pretty accurate and in depth.
Have a good weeek!

Then got this one at 6:24:

JK I figured it out! :) Have a good day.
Hello family. Thank you for all the letters that you've sent, i appreciate the dear elders and the hand written ones. Either one is cool with me! :) In one of mom's letters she said that everyone wanted to know what I do everyday. Like from when I get up to when I go to sleep. Its a pretty monotonous schedule but If you really want to know, I will tell you. Although I'm like the fastest typist ever, I didn't think I could type all of this out in the 30 minutes I have on the computer and still get to my other emails so I found a "online study journal" on and i'm typing it all out in there right now so that when I open up my email I can just copy and paste it in there and then still have like 29 minutes left of email! I'm so smart. Ok anyways, on to the schedule.

6:20: Wake up, run to the showers because if you aren't one of the first ones to shower you don't have any hot water. Sometimes we don't shower right now because we have gym but i'll give you my wednesday schedule because its my favorite.

7:00: Personal study in shirt and tie in our classroom. We aren't allowed to do anything in our dorm rooms except sleep. All our time

is spent in our classroom which is about the size of my bedroom at home with 11 people in it. I have a tiny desk in which I'm supposed to be studying my spanish preach my gospel along side my english one while looking up scriptures in my english book of mormon then reading it in spanish. Its hard to have 4 books open on a tiny desk.
8:00: Breakfast. The breakfast is usually eggs and some kind of meat. Just cafeteria eggs, not good ones.
8:30: Companionship study. Same thing as personal, but with your companion. During comp study we usually plan our lesson for our progessing investigator. 

9:45: Class time. This is when we have our teacher come in. Its either Bro. Talataina or Bro. Thomas. They both are returned missionaries who came back to the MTC to teach because they love missionary work. They are both super cool guys. I really like Bro. Thomas because he ran at BYU Hawaii before his mission and is trying to get on the BYU provo team right now. Him and I talk about running a lot. It makes me miss running, but I love it. 

12:45: Lunch time. Meh. We check the mail after lunch and that is when we get our hand written letters. I look forward to lunch mostly for this reason only. 

1:40: Language study. This is where the district sits in our classroom and we study spanish. No teacher, just the spirit and a textbook. Its really tough to stay on task during this time because the guidelines of what you are supposed to be studying is super loose. Lately I just practice my verb conjugations.

2:45: TALL. Tall stands for technology assisted language learning and its just spanish practice on the computer. its pretty cool. I like it, but as i'm progressing in my spanish its getting harder and harder. The cool thing about it is, we have to wear headphones because the person on the program will say words and you have to repeat them back through the microphone attached to the headphones. But when i'm doing a part of the program that doesn't involve listening to the person talk, i listen to music on If you go to, click menu, then click youth you can listen to a bunch of seminary and efy type music. My favorite song right now is called "Seeking Whats Good" I highly recommend you look it up.

4:05: Gym time! Gym in the afternoon is the bomb diggity! I love it so much because in the afternoon the excercise field is open and we get to play soccer! I never thought I would look forward to running around in the outdoors so much. But after being in a class for 14 hours a day, its awesome to get an hour outside. I met an elder who likes to run so we go on companionship exchanges and I run with him around the field. 2 laps make a mile and the other day we did a fartlek! Too bad he is going to Argentina in like 4 days. 

5:45: Dinner. Dinner is usually the best meal of the day. They are really good here at the mtc with not having the same meal twice. I think since i've been here i've only had the same meal more than once, twice. And it was a turkey bacon avocado sandwich, which i love. Not as good as quiznos, but acceptable. 

6:30: Class time again. 3 more hours of class time whith the teacher that didn't teach this morning. Same stuff. Guided language study, doctrine of christ, progressing investigator and coaching missionary study. All good stuff.

9:30: Go back to our dorms and unwind. We usally write in our journal, do some abs, talk to other missionaries in our zone and just chill. At 10:15 everyone goes back to their own rooms.

10:30: lights out. Tough day. Tomorrow, we do it all again.

That is my daily schedule, its rough at times but it seems to fly by. Here in the mtc they say that the days feel like weeks but the weeks feel like days and its so true. They also say the MTC is like prison except for in prison you get visitors. So yeah. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 7, 2011

So, Since I emailed you last, lots of stuff has happened.
Conference in the MTC was a awesome. I don't think I ever learned as much in one session of conference.
Three days after entering the MTC me and my companion had to teach an "investigator" his first lesson ever, in spanish! Talk about a humbling experience. But on our third lesson with this investigator, who is really just a teacher here at the mtc, we committed him to baptism! That is the point that I really felt like a missionary. Even though I didn't totally know what he was saying all the time or what I was saying all the time the spirit was there and it was cool.

Me and my comp are doing really well, and haven't gotten in a fight or anything yet so thats good. At first, I didn't notice a lot of things about the idiosyncrasies about the elders in my district but they are all starting to come out now. its kind of annoying but these are things i'm going to have to learn to deal with. One elder laughs really obnoxiously and I can't help but mimic it and then everyone laughs even harder. Its really funny actually. I don't think i've ever laughed as hard as I do here in the ccm. (mtc in spanish) I love my district and i love my comp.

I'm really loving the dearelders that I am getting, keep them coming.  Anyone can write me on there and I love it!
If you are reading this and you are wondering why i'm not using any spanish, you have to write me a personal letter and i'll spanish it up for you. :) anyways, have a good day everyone and I love you all. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

First Letter Home

I left the new baptism pants in the dryer but I have dad's old ones with me that will work with my white belt. Marly told me she figured out my voicemail password, it is ****. I sent home a real letter. It is way better to get mail than to get emails but I appreciate both. I really like the dear elder things. Lots of people get those everyday. and they print out the dear elders twice a day here so i could get mail twice a day potentially. I realized that i'm definitely going to need those shoes from so if you could order those and send them to me that would be great. I need a size 10 in the "tracting deluxe" shoe. plus i need insoles as well. Thank you!!!
The mtc is great! my spanish is coming along well and as i'm typing this I can't help but think about how to say it en espanol. And with the lack of vocabulary and the abundance in spanish accents, the nacho libre quotes can't help but be said. I don't know how long it is going to take until we all hate that movie but for now it is a good source of comic relief. Pretty much my daily schedule includes a couple hours of personal study, which i'm enjoying alot btw. An hour or so of companionship study and the rest is personal language study and classroom instruction. My teacher is hermano talataina. (pronounce all the vowels like this "tal-ahh-tah-eena") He is really cool. He refuses to speak english to us most of the time though. It is tough but i am understanding most of what he is saying.
My companion is named Elder Dockstader and he is from Florence, AZ! We lived like 20 minutes away from each other but never met. We even know some of the same people. He knows the chapmans from coolidge and Jake Tanner and Max McMillan. he is super cool and we get along really well. Other than that, nothing really is happening around here. Its kinda crazy to not know what is going on at home but Its also kinda nice not having to worry about anything but studying the gospel and spanish. Its fun.
Anyways, I love you all!
Elder Vance Johnson
PS: Tell people to write me letters. :)