Hello! Happy P-Day. I hope the world is as beautiful wherever you are as it is here. These last two weeks, we've felt the spirit, drunk juice, and done more contacting than you can shake a stick at. I may have to get some worn-out cartilage insurance with how much we're walking. If any of you are willing to donate a hip to me in about five years, submit applications at your convenience.
So. Ah. Ugh. Blast. Okay. I'll say it. The time has come. Two years are up. And Elder Barlow is going home. NOOOOOO!!!!! Ah. Elder Barlow entered my house (and life) last December about a week before Christmas. I was not happy about it. Elder Osorio, whose place he took, was a charming lad who made one heck of a pot of beans and rice. All I heard about Elder Barlow was that he was some skinny white kid who played the piano. But then, I saw him for the first time, and sure enough- he was a skinny white kid who played the piano. But! There are some things you should know about Elder Barlow.
|By the way, I've seen Elder Barlow live, |
and he is actually quite a handsome lad,
in spite of the many less than flattering
photos and statements on this blog.-- JAJ
First, he does not speak English. The poor lad tries, but he just doesn't get some of the finer points of English. For instance, words like "madurred" do not exist, even and especially when referring to ripe bananas. Also, sentences like, "I'm sick of Evangelicals molesting me!" are not appropriate in the English-speaking world. (FYI, in Spanish, "molestar," not to be confused with "violar," means "to annoy," a pretty important difference, although it makes for very funny jokes when you have a Latino companion.) He is also completely incapable of saying the word snickelfritz.
Also, I have been mooned by Elder Barlow from time to time while we have lived together. I think it's fair to say that I've seen his butt more times than I've seen my own, although it is in fact a great debate in our house whether or not the man really has a backside or if someone just drew a black line down the middle of his fleshless pelvis. And no, I don't feel bad making that joke. Haha, he hopes his wife makes fun of his buttlessness.
I should also probably mention that Elder Barlow in a way grabbed my soul by the nostrils and dragged it out of the very jaws of Hell. He once posed a question to me after I insisted that there was no way I could ever be a missionary as diligent and motivated as the Lord wanted me to be. "Johnson," he said, "the Lord does not care who you are. Who could you be?" That question, combined with his example (getting repeatedly and viciously shafted by companions for about the first year of his mission, especially his trainer, and still turning out very well despite garbage that would have destroyed any lesser missionary) was a powerful motivator for me in some very dark times. I thank God for sending him to my house, and although he is leaving me now, I am eternally grateful for the time we had to serve together. We've had some of the funnest, funniest, most building time there was to be had.
With all that sappy Jaredite villain out of the way, he and I crunched some numbers. In the last four weeks, we have knocked on nearly fifteen hundred doors. Of those doors, we've gotten in for one hundred and seven lessons. In case you didn't just whip out a calculator and break that down, we got rejected from thirteen of fourteen houses we tried to get into. Which is to say, we got lessons with just over 7.1% of the doors we knocked on, a number that is also about on par with the number of times people were too busy to listen to how to obtain eternal happiness because they had to eat a mango (although you could argue that that's kinda the same thing), the number of times bilingual Minecraft addicts said the words "skin toolkit" to us, and how often the door was answered by a dog. Yeah, it's fair to say that this work is not easy. Some might get discouraged. But we don't. No, sir, we do not. Why?
Because this work was never supposed to be easy. We aren't here to sit on the beach and sip piña coladas. We aren't here to slide our iPads under the seats of our air conditioned car as we go from golden investigator to golden investigator. We are here to do the work of salvation. To bring the world His truth. And what a truth it is.
This church is true. The church is so true that it's obvious. You cannot look at the Book of Mormon and suppose that it was written by Joseph Smith or any of his translators or associates back in the day. It is a book so rife with lingual and doctrinal complexity, from the stories down to individual words, that it would be ludicrous to even suppose this book could be a fabrication. If that isn't obvious, you're not reading it closely enough.
As for Joseph Smith, his blunders are as telling as his successes. God took a man who was so imperfect and ignorant and yet so prepared and with him, He chose to do this work. How lost and confused Joseph Smith must have been, trying to fulfill his role as a prophet in this dispensation with no guide, no example of a modern prophet who had gone before. He could only trust in the Lord and keep moving forward, and his determination, the Spirit that accompanied him, and the very life he sacrificed in this cause are a testament to his divine calling as a prophet.
But the most important, compelling, and impossible-to-deny evidence there is for me is the hand of the Lord that I have seen in my own life. Looking back, it's so clear how the path of my life had brought me to this point. Specific people in specific places at the right time were prepared so that I would be able to finally come to this knowledge. It's so simple it's brilliant, and it's so crazy to see how even Satan's moves, sly as they were, only served to help the purposes of God. And this, after all, really is His work.
|Elders Rodriguez and Johnson|
So we are here and so we work. This work is a work of love and it is the most important kind of love. We are in the business of the salvation of the human family. I'm here, I'm happy here, and here I will stay. If any of you are wondering if you should serve a mission, allow me to answer that question with a loud, clear, and humble YES. Yes you should. It is the greatest thing that could happen to you. If God can take someone as messed up and imperfect as me and make anything useful out of it, He can do the same with you. I have seen it. I know it. I testify of it.
Pressing forward in the faith,