Monday, September 30, 2013

stand ye in holy places, and not be moved

Why hello friends and family! All is well here in da Burgh! The temperature is dropping and the leaves are changin! Sounds like FALLL! I can't wait to see the fall colors in full force! It's going to be great!
Anywho, last week I had a great experience. We visited a less active named Sister Mcclendon, she misses a lot of church because of her job, but she has such a powerful testimony of the gospel. Her grand daughter is also a member, but lately she's been pressured with the bent views of high schoolers. Sis mcclendon expressed her feelings of wanting her granddaughter to be safe, and protected in high school, she said that she has gotten a lot of peer pressure lately. I felt prompted to speak about the youth's theme to "Stand ye in Holy places, and be not moved", I spoke about it, and why the Lord has asked us to stand firm, and live as an example. The spirit was there. Her grand daughter felt our love as we spoke to her. When I was in high school, (which was only a few months ago, goodness!) I carried around a small For the Strength of Youth card in my wallet, and I had it with me almost all 3 years. Every now and then I would unfold it and read from it. It really did help me throughout high school. While sitting in the Mcclendon's home, I remembered the card in my pocket. I told them my story of how the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet helped me through high school. And I gave it to her grand daughter. She was so touched, and tears welled in her eyes. 
The gospel is meant to be an anchor in our lives. It keeps us grounded to the eternal truths of this church, and always guides us to a happier and blessed life. By living the gospel, we not only help ourselves, but bless those around us. Our example, and our testimony burns bright in the eyes of those who have never heard of this great news. I want to challenge all of you, to live your testimony, and stand anchored to the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, particularly to the Youth. By doing so, we truly can stand in Holy Places, and be not moved. I bear my witness, of the power of example, if it were not for all of you, and your wonderful light in my life, I might not have made it out here in Pittsburgh. I bear my witness, that God lives, He loves us. Jesus lives, and his atonement can bless and lift us from any pit of despair. I know this is God's kingdom upon the earth.
I love you all. Thank you for your love.
-Elder Johnson

Monday, September 23, 2013

trust in the spirit

Hello friends and family!!! Life in da Burgh is pretty grand! It's been getting colder than a polar bears coca cola! Just kidding, it's just cold because all this darn humidity! Anywho, Elder Sparrow and I had a great experience teaching a recent convert. We had plans to see her at 7 o clock yesterday, but because her husband wasn't home, we had to bring another male with us, and we were struggling to find anyone available. We called and texted loads of people and no one responded or could make it. We sat and pondered, and almost immediately we said the same person. Excited that we both felt the spirit, we texted him and he was available, and more than willing to help us. We reviewed the lesson we had prepared for her, and then took off. We arrived at this sister's house, and i felt the spirit tell me not to teach what we prepared. It was strange, because I wasn't expecting that prompting, especially right then during the lesson. I thought of continuing to teach it, but the spirit refused to let me do so, I trusted it's prompting and we started talking about the role of prayer in our conversion. It ended up being an amazing lesson, one of the greatest I've felt. When we trusted the spirit we were given the words, and the questions to ask, to help this sister further develop her relationship with our Heavenly Father. Prayer truly is such a wonderful gift to us. If I wasn't a part of this church, and knew nothing of God, I would be so scared, and so afraid of what comes next, let alone the fact that we have the sacred privilege of conversing with Him as well. Our personal relationship is so important to establish, it shows God our love for Him, and greatly improves our relationships in all other forms, With our families, our friends, and just about any other human being on the planet! I love this church, I am so blessed to have this wonderful knowledge, and also the knowledge that my Father in Heaven is listening to every care, worry, and desire my heart could possibly hold. And He is more than willing to bless us with His grace, as we ask in faith. I love you all, thanks for your prayers, and for all that you have done to help me come out here in Pitt. 

Love Elder Johnson

We did service at the bishop's house. We destroyed his deck with sledge hammers and crow bars.
It was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

the importance of family home evening

HELLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! The weather forecast here in the Burgh of Pitt consists of rain, more rain, and literally dumptrucks of water EVERY OTHER DAY. But i don't complain, it's a nice twist from snow, rain, and sunshine in the same hour ;)
Time's a wastin! so I can't say much, but i've been doing grand! I sure love it here in Armpit. The people are so polite...kinda. But oh well, one way or another they'll get to hear about the gospel! Yesterday I was told something very peculiar. We met with a part member family and taught them how to hold a Family Home Evening. Another active family joined us to help out. We watched the Restoration video, it was very cool. The Spirit was definitely there. The father of the home asked me why I went to church, and pretty much politely demanded that I bear my testimony of my "conversion story" and how I knew the church was true for myself. I was comfortable doing so, so I didn't mind. I told him about the darkness, and light, and grace I felt as I lived through high school. He continued his questions of why I came back. I answered and bore my testimony of how the gospel has offered me the  protection, joy, and peace that comes from remaining anchored to this everlasting gospel. He looked over to his son who was also in high school. And I knew why he had asked. After we left, the member who accompanied us leaned over and told me "That, that is why you're here" I didn't quite understand what she said, and it was apparent to me at all, the effects of the words I spoke as I bore my testimony. But she saw how perfectly that piece of my life aligned with what this boy needed to hear. It was so amazing to be a part of that experience with their family. Families truly are ordained of God, every member of a family, has such divine potential, to serve one another, to lift and inspire, and to bless with words of true love and compassion. This is why we have Family Home Evening, so we can build those sacred experiences and relationships with each other. After all, the Home, is the only place that can compare to the sacredness of the Temple. I know this gospel is true, and I also know that we've all been prepared to speak with someone, and declare our testimonies of how we came to know of its truthfulness. I challenge all of you to hold a Family Home Evening, and offer up the words you might not normally speak. Tell your parents why you love them, thank them for the powerful and inspired counsel as they raised you into this world. Tell your siblings how special they are you to, and how blessed you are to have them. EVEN if the bug the daylights out of you. Thanks for all of your love and support. I love you all. 
-Elder Johnson

Monday, September 9, 2013

really. freaky. bugs

How all yinz doin!! SORRY! I've been busy beyond belief here in Pitt, so I didn't have time. But here I am!
All is well here in da burgh, the weather is very slowly getting cold, so that's going to suck.. But the leaves are beginning to turn yellow, I'm super excited. Apparently it's absolutely gorgeous. We've been getting REALLY. FREAKY. BUGS. More centipede things, plenty of spiders, and the other day I found the most terrifying spider ever. It was red, and had striped legs, and had a cheetah pattern on it's abdomen. No big deal though, indiana jones had it easy.

Anyways! It has been a spectacular week! Absolutely amazing. And it was all because we were trying to be exactly obedient. 
Elder Sparrow and I decided we should probably work harder at being exactly obedient, so we tried our hardest to get to bed on time, which was something we didn't do all the time. We did our best, and the next day we had the most amazing lesson I've ever been a part of. Elder Sparrow felt prompted to talk about prophets to a less active lady. We went to her house and started teaching the first lesson. Immediately after mentioning Joseph Smith, she brought up her concerns about why we even needed a prophet. Further guided by the spirit, I felt that revelation come to my mind, so that I could answer her question. I ended up telling her something along the lines of this "The Gospel is the same yesterday, today, and forever. But satan's temptations and craft are always changing to try and bring us into his grasp. They aren't the same, he's constantly thinking of new ways to distract us from this Gospel. We are given a prophet and revelations so we can combat those things."
She understood clearly this concept, and the Spirit bore testimony to her that it was true. Because of our obedience, the Spirit was there, completely and unrestrained. He prompted us what to say, and when to say it. He inspired our questions and the Spirit pierced her heart, and filled her with truth. She asked me to say the closing prayer, and as I did so, the Holy Ghost prompted me to know what to say. Afterwards, tears were in her eyes, and she was amazed at how personally those words have touched her. 
I felt as though I was just sitting there and watching, I only "participated" in the work. By striving to be obedient, the Lord provided the way, and all we did was listen.
I know this church is true. And all of our brothers and sisters need to hear about this message, that Jesus is the Christ, and by being obedient to his commandments and living worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are given the privilege of Eternal Exaltation. I know that Joseph Smith was and is a Prophet of God, and that Thomas S. Monson holds that same mantle. I know that living by their words, we can receive that further knowledge of how to protect ourselves from the adversaries snares, and we can feel the peace and impossible joy that comes from this Gospel. I want to challenge you, to invite someone to hear the words of these servants of the Lord, and invite them to watch General Conference. Ask them to have a question in their mind. A sincere, and genuine question, and I promise that it will be answered while watching, through, and because of the Holy Ghost. I love you all, thanks for your prayers and for your support! Bye!
-Elder Johnson