Monday, March 30, 2015

Lost in Amalia March 30, 2015

Dallin's cheery disposition is back! Here is his newest email. Thank you everyone for your prayers and everything else.
Happy Monday, everybody! So I'm actually gonna start this one with an apology. As anyone who's personally written me recently knows, the last couple of months, I've been justifiably horrendous at writing back. I apologize! Sincerely and deeply. I promise I appreciate the time taken to write and I do love all of yo' faces! My Mom says she still loves me just the way that I am! Must be because she's really into seismology..... you know, she loves faults...... cough. Haha okay, okay, I hafta admit I stole thatun from President Corbitt. But hey! I'm working on getting better with writing, just forgive me if I take some time.

On to the week! You know, I now have over six months in the mission. My great lozzy. Time sometimes scares the daylights out of me.

I've decided that pigs are magic. You put in trash and weeds in a garbage juice marinade and out comes bacon and ham. It's incredible.

In Espaillat, we had a lot of cockroaches. Here in the campo (countryside), the cockroaches are both indoor and outdoor. Interestingly enough, in Los Solares, we also have a ton of little gecko thingamajobbers infesting the house. Mayhap it isn't fair to call them pests- they don't eat our food and they don't scare me- but they're everywhere! Pretty enfermo!

So this last week, I actually haven't been in Los Solares. One of my zone leaders, Elder McCombs, has dengue, a sickness that's sort of like a mild cold except that it hospitalizes and can potentially kill you. He's alright now! But they called me up and told me that I'd have to head out of Amalia, McCombs's area, and work with my old chum Elder Froude.

So it was that I found myself lost in Amalia. See, Froude only has two weeks out there and still doesn't know his area. What happened is basically that our first appointment dropped and Froude said, "Well, I have this list of investigators, but I don't know how to get to any of their houses, soooo.... let's contact around until something looks familiar." An hour later, we were deep in the jungle part of the area. I was wandering after Froude, happy as an Aborigine in the bush, when he turned around and said, "Johnson, I'm lost. I don't even know how to get back to the house." 

Well, he came to the right place. I'm a Scoutcraft man. I was born to get hopelessly lost in a strange forest in distant, unfamiliar lands. Thoughts of shelters built of palm fronds fortified with pure manliness ran through my mind. We would feast on wild plantains and coconut juice. No- not manly enough- we would hunt alligator and Dominican wild boar, killing with our bare hands if we needed to. This was a survival situation. Desperate measures were called for. I thought of my Viking ancestors. Gorm the Old. Harald Bluetooth. Svend Forkbeard. All mighty men of great Danish stock. I felt their spirits standing shoulder to shoulder with my own. In that moment, I felt my heart change. I was no longer a mere descendent of Vikings. Courage filled my soul, and I WAS a Viking. I could practically feel the raw oxhide armor and battle-axe thrown over my shoulder. I turned to face the puny Dominican jungle. And then a cockroach ran up my leg. I turned into a lost 19-year-old white city boy so fast. I cleared the jungle for three and a half miles. In the end, we lucked out when a random guaguita passed by twenty minutes later, although it cost thirty five pesos and my last shred of dignity when I tripped over a flat, even surface while getting in.

But we had some decent lessons despite and really, the week was swell. I can't complain.

So I've barely written this last transfer. Let me illuminate the situation a little bit. I've been a little stressed, in the same way that the ocean is moist and professional baseball players somehow scrape a living. Now, let's make something very clear- this stress is completely and entirely MY fault. I have to take credit for it. But it's been debilitating. I haven't been able to sleep or bring myself to eat. On P-Day, my emails probably took years off my parents' lives, bless their seismological hearts.

I also have to ask a little bit of forgiveness. I'm not completely sure how to say what I'm trying to say. But there's been something holding me up these last six months that's made it a slow, uncomfortable experience at best. It came to the point where I got a call from my mission president, and he told me that I could either go home or come into Gazcue for an interview. I opted for the interview. There. Hmmm. I'm not gonna share everything that was said there. But we did some pretty stinking deep soul-searching. And I learned something. You know, I think it was my mom that said it best. A couple of weeks ago, she said "Dallin, you need to wake up. You are (insert a bunch of compliments that you already know are preceding a kick in the teeth) but you are arrogant." Whew. Welp. Well said. Pride has always been one of my great vices, and not even in the stereotypical sense. I believe in joking about it, but I don't honestly think of myself as someone who is out-of-this-worldly talented or smart or attractive or anything like that. I'm the first one to admit that I'm a very imperfect person. But. And that's an all-caps very important BUT. I have almost always trusted in my own opinion over any other. My own thoughts, my own impressions, one might say my own will. That has always superseded the will of my family, my parents, my friends, and I'm sorry to say, of God. But something happened on that balmy afternoon in Gazcue. I'm not gonna lie. I walked into the office a fairly well beaten down missionary and person who was about ready to call it quits. But two hours later, and I can only put it down to the influence of the Holy Ghost and probably God himself, I walked out of that same office spiritually exhausted but on my feet, ready to press forward. This is what I learned.

Peace and happiness- true peace and happiness- are born only of humility. When I say humility, I mean sacrificing your own will for the will of God. It's hard. I can testify of that. But if you think about it, God has given us everything. He has every single thing we can possibly comprehend, save one- our agency. God cannot directly compel us to do anything. Our obedience is the only thing we have that we can possibly give to God. The only gift we are capable of giving. That's why the commandments are so heavily emphasized. Following them is hard. A lot of times, we're tempted to think we'll be happy if we do what we want, and while what God says is important, we can always do it later. But I can tell you that at least with one week in this humbling process, everything has changed. Going out isn't so hard, smiling is much easier, and when I arrived at Los Solares again, I was amazed at how beautiful it had become.

So don't put this off. There is only one time when you should be living the gospel. NOW. I'm still imperfect, and change is a process that takes a lot of time. I still struggle with it. But I'm gonna put forth my best effort, and I know that it'll take me places I never imagined. One last thought.

Where could God take YOU?

Much love,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Anatomy of a Week in Los Solares March 16, 2015

Maybe he's not fully recovered yet??

Dear everyone,

This week was a good week. We taught the gospel and 
ate some rice.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Still Kickin' around March 9, 2015

SO... He seems to have recovered somewhat, though only Heavenly Father knows what ailed him. Please feel free to write him a letter or quick note. I know he'd love to hear from ya'll. His address is found on the right-hand side of this blog.

Hey, all! 

Sorry it's been a while. I'm alive! I'm happy. 

I said goodbye to Espaillat and said hello to Los Solares. We have the best empanada shack this side of the Rio Ozama and life's good.

Los Solares is different. There's less concrete and more cows. It's so much calmer. We no longer have to avoid dark streets, so that's nice. We have church in a garage, so that's a bit of a downgrade, but the house makes up for it. It's very open, and we can do things like play baseball with bottle caps and brooms. And soccer. And. Cough. icehockeyWAITWHAT? Also, we still have a cockroach problem, but we're a little bit better at managing it here. In Espaillat, we used shoes. Here, every missionary is issued a pump bottle of mosquito repellent. Of FLAMMABLE mosquito repellent. It's the moment. Ten PM. Pretty quiet. All of a sudden, we hear a yell, "CUCARACHA!!!" In two seconds flat, you have a stampede of missionaries rampaging about in their underwear, striking matches and whooping like a band of eighteenth century Comanche riders. Haha we go to TOWN.

My new companion is Elder Zetina. He's Mexican. We both crack each other up and the work is a blast. His English isn't amazing, but I'm working on it with him. I'm teaching him how to speak with a Utah accent (a positively essential skill) and it gets me every time. We were walking one time, not really talking, when all of a sudden, his face lit up and he said with a heavy Mexican accent, "Hey, I'm La'in. Oh! Excoose me. Eet's jost my ahccent from Jutah." He's a good cook, but apparently he missed the day in school when they taught us that while we eat many parts of a pig, we don't eat their ears. (pics below) Naw, but I love the kid. Although I found out the other day that he's a Pepsi man. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

The other day, I had one of those Oh moments. We were walking. It was hot. I had a popsicle. However, we must've done something to upset the missionary dryness Gods or something because one second it was sunny and the next, I tell you what, the heavens opened up and dumped half the Carribean on our heads. We were fairly soaked. My companion stopped below a little overhang to call an investigator to ask if he was home. There wasn't much room outside, so I just stood there, enjoying my popsicle. Then, behind me, I heard giggling. I looked back and saw two little Dominican girls covering their mouths. I looked around, searching for what was so funny. And then it hit me. It's not every day you see a short, squat Mexican and a big old babyfaced gringo in a tie and nametag standing in the middle of a busy intersection in the freezing rain, so wet there are literally little streams of water flowing down their faces. Eating a popsicle. Oh.

We were walking through the street a few days ago when Elder Zetina suddenly stopped next to a plant I'd never seen before. He picked off a tiny little red seed looking thing and said, "Hey, Johnson, try this." I looked at it skeptically. "Go on," he encouraged, "It's muy bien!" So I popped it. I chewed thoughtfully. And then Satan himself punched me right in the mouth. I said something. I don't rightly recollect exactly what it was. I think it was something to the effect of "AAAAUGGHRUGHGUXXUIEJAOE!!!!!" He'd given me a Carribean pepper. It's the size of a fingernail shaving. And for the next hour and a half, the very flames of Hell scoured my tongue. Zetina, that heartless scumbag, laughed until he cried. After I finally got it out, he kept laughing. "Ai mi madre! Creo que no hay mas placer in ├ęsta vida que ver un gringo con picante!" 

TRANSLATION: "Ai my mother! I think there is little more pleasure in this life than to see a gringo with a spicy pepper in his mouth!"

He laughed about it the next day. And the next. In fact, he's reading this over my shoulder and laughing about it right now.

So that's me! Thanks to everyone for everything you all do! Life's good here and I hope it's all good back in Utah too.

Nos vemos,
Elder Johnson

Monday, March 2, 2015

Jury is still out. March 2, 2015

Dallin wrote today that he has felt the prayers on his behalf and has been grateful for the strength he has received from them. However, he is still not feeling well. They will do another evaluation tomorrow. Thank you everyone for your prayers. God bless you all.