Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Final Chapter -- August 30, 2016

The final chapter in Dallin's mission has come to a close. It is bittersweet. Part of me is turning cartwheels and shouting for joy that he is home, and the other part is screaming, "NOOOOOO!!! You are doing so well, you are so happy there! Stay another year where I know you are on God's errand!"

Yet, it is time to open the first page of a new book. And so it is.

 It really is him!!

Dallin greets a very happy Robbie at the airport.
Elders Barlow and Johnson 
 Elders Johnson, Rodriguez, and Barlow.
 Panda Express never tasted so good!

Thanks for following our journey. It's been fun!!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Turning the Page -- August 22, 2016

Well. There's no point in beating around the bush. This is the last email of my mission. 

I'm going to fly home this Thursday. I'm going to leave the mission. I'm going to take off my nametag. And all at once, I'll be Brother Johnson again. This is true. I'm conscious of this fact. I understand that I'm going to see my mom this week. I know that I'm going home. I get it. But. I also really don't. Because right now, I still have my tag. I still have a companion. Two, actually. I still keep rules. I still eat more rice than you can shake a stick at. And maybe the weirdest thing about all this is that honestly, I feel completely normal. This has been my life for the last two years, and although it only will be for three more days, it still is.

One of the great cruelties of life are "the lasts". Having to square with the fact that things or people you love are gone and aren't coming back. But the blasted thing about it all is that I'm here at one of the great lasts, the end of my mission, and I'm constantly waiting for some grand feeling to sweep over me. I want everything to be super extra special because it's a last. My last district meeting, last weekly report, last testimony. Cough. Last weekly email. But sadly, I've had dozens of district meetings. I've born my testimony hundreds of times. These things will only be special when they're gone.

But that's okay. Although there's a weird bittersweet sensation hanging over everything I do, the biggest feeling I have is peace. I feel at peace with myself and with my mission. I have made countless mistakes and I know I could have done more. But I do not regret my mission. And I feel that the Lord is satisfied with the work that I've done. And so I am at peace.

And so after all that has been said, after so many eloquent stories and painstakingly drafted emails, all I want to say is that I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet to restore the gospel of Jesus Christ in our day. I know that this is the true church. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. And above all, I know that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me.

This is not a unique testimony. There are millions of people who have the same one. It's just another brick in the wall. But it's my brick. And I thank God every day for it.

So now it's on to the next great adventure. I will never forget what happened here, and I will carry shades of my mission within me literally forever. And I'll press onward. Life is a progression and although this chapter is about to close, it just means that it's time to start another. And that's a great gift.

See you soon.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Reflective Miracle -- August 15, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,

What a wild ride. I want to start by sharing an experience we had this past week.

We've been trying to hit it really hard with less-active members these last few days, and as I was digging through our area book, I stumbled across the name of an inactive returned missionary. We went out to his house and he let us in. We discovered that this guy, Starlin, is married to a nonmember named Rosa. Rosa had talked with dozens of companionships of missionaries throughout the years, and had been on the point of being baptized several times, but something always held her back. Starlin and Rosa have also been trying to have kids since they got married, without success.

Well, we taught her once, and it was an alright lesson. Starlin came to church that Sunday, and although Rosa didn't, he told us excitedly that they'd been to the doctor between our last visit, and Rosa had discovered that she's pregnant. They were both elated. They'd been trying for years and nothing had stuck. Finally there was hope.

But when we got to their house on Wednesday, we heard sobering news. Rosa was bedridden. I don't know what the actual phrase is in English. She was suffering from an "amenaza de aborto" which translated means "threat of miscarriage." Don't know if that's the actual term or not. Either way, it was looking like Rosa was probably going to miscarry thier baby, and they were both really torn up about it.

We talked to her about faith. We talked about how God can work miracles. And then I felt the spirit prompting me to ask her a question. Kind of an unusual question. I asked her if she had the faith to lose her baby. If she trusted in God enough to let him put them through that trial. She thought about it for a good long minute. And she said yes. So we laid our hands on her head and gave her a priesthood blessing. It was one of the most powerful moments of my mission. She told us that she'd see the doctor on the 19 and they'd get a final verdict.

And then. The next time we passed by, she was sitting on the couch, and she had a big smile on her face. The doctors were baffled. She hadn't had to wait until the 19th. Overnight, the situation had corrected itself. The threat was gone. It was a miracle. And not a small one either.

And this is just one of the many experiences I've been so privileged to be a part of in these two years. For those who aren't counting, this is my penultimate email. I go home next week.

It feels unreal. I can't believe it's happening. I don't want to.

But I mean, that's life, isn't it? When you're a bright-eyed kindergartner, you think you'll never get out of the public education system. But you do. As a college freshman, that degree seems impossibly far away. But you get it. Being married seems like a distant future. But it happens. Being a father? You will be. And when you start a mission, it also feels like a world that you'll be in forever. But you won't. The end comes. The end always comes, all throughout life. Even to the end. I can't even imagine being on the point of death. But as the scripture says in Alma, "It was appointed to man to die." Everything. Graduation, family, career, and even death, will get here eventually.

And so, if there's any piece of advice that I in my whopping 21 years of life experience could give to anyone, it would be that wherever you are, enjoy it. If you're starting your freshman year of high school, enjoy it. Suffering through finals in college? Enjoy it. Greenie in your second transfer in the field and the end seems impossibly far away? Enjoy that. Focus on the now. Live in the now. Because the future will arrive. But you'll never get this moment back.

Love you all,

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Chocolate Thunder From Down Under -- August 9, 2016

You guys know that feeling you get when you're in school and it's mid-May and there's like two weeks left before summer vacation and you can just smell it in the air? Yeah. After nearly two years. I finally feel that feeling.

So this week, Elder Koerper had to get some medical tests done. We will not elaborate on the specific issues, but he had to get some bloodwork done. The mission doctor does not have the facilities to do such things, so we went to a Dominican clinic to get it done. It was actually very clean, very modern, and all in all pretty impressive. Until the guy had Elder Koerper's arm there, about to stick the needle in, and Elder Koerper popped a question. "So how long have you been a doctor?" The guy looked up at him through his glasses, and quipped cheerfully, "Oh, we're not doctors." And then he stuck him. Haha. It turned out good.

It's been pretty rainy this last two week, which has sucked a
 There's a bridge outside Espaillat.
See those houses by the river?
That's where Elder Miller and I went when
 I wrote that discourse on poverty as a trainee.
bit, because the streets have been flooded. On Saturday night, we had just bought eggs and bread and were walking through the swampy street on the way to our house. I couldn't see the blacktop through the murky water, so I was just kinda shuffling around, feeling my way along the pavement with my foot when all of a sudden, I took a step with my left foot and by jove, the street was no longer there. Well this was unfortunate. My whole left leg fell into a flippin' manhole and I went down hard. Elder Koerper said afterward that his first instinct was just to yell, "SNIPER! MAN DOWN! SAVE YOURSELVES!!!" Elder Beecher was just happy the eggs were okay. Bums. I too was okay! A bit scraped and a lot shaken up. But okay.

Today's a Tuesday. Time's short, which is why this is ever so slightly sporadic and poorly organized. But yesterday, I went back to VerĂ³n. I saw some converts, saw some members, and I went to Outback Steakhouse for the first time in my life. I can honestly say that I have eaten a Chocolate Thunder From Down Under. It was heavenly. I think it was life-changing.

Sorry this wasn't very spiritual.

Love you all,
Dallin Johnson