Goodbye Buckley! Hello May Creek Ward, Renton, Washington!!!

I just got to my new area! I am in the May Creek Ward of the Renton Stake. It is much more of an urban setting. I am sure that I am going to love it in this area.

I’m sure to experience a big culture shock when compared to Buckley, but I’m excited for the new experience. My new companion is Elder Linford from Weber, Utah. We are going to be working real hard and hopefully having great experiences.

I’m really going to miss Buckley and I’m going to miss Elder Garner a lot too, but I know the Lord has some pretty amazing things in store for me. I’ve grown a lot over this past transfer and the Lord has really helped me increase my understanding of patience and charity for the people I’ve been called to serve. I’ve had some really good times here in Buckley and I’m certainly going to miss the people. I’m also going to miss Elder Garner. He has been a great senior companion and he has been a great example of a diligent and hard working missionary. He has really helped me to become more converted to strict obedience and hard work. I just hope that I can keep up these habits in a new area.

I’ve learned some good lessons this week about faith, hope and a positive attitude. This past week has been quite the trial on my patience. Elder Garner and I have been hearing stories about how Buckley used to lead the mission as a missionary ward. It has been described as being a very active and missionary minded ward. Elder Garner and I were trying everything we could think of to develop a better relationship with the ward. We’ve asked for suggestions on how we could do better, offered service, or asked Ward members what the ward thought we could do to cultivate this missionary-minded culture again. All of our efforts seem to fall just a little bit flat. I finally started to realize my role in the problem. I needed an attitude adjustment.

Later in the week I was trying to be more positive and develop greater love and faith. Yesterday, after I found out that I was going to be leaving Buckley, I was praying pretty hard to witness miracles during my last day in Buckley. After studies yesterday, I felt prompted to pack a couple extra copies of the Book of Mormon in my shoulder bag. By the time we got back for lunch two hours later, we had passed out 4 copies of the Book of Mormon, taught about 3 lessons and found a new investigator. Later in the day, we passed out 3 more Books of Mormon and taught a couple additional lessons. I felt very blessed by the Lord to witness this outpouring of the Book of Mormon during my last day in Buckley.

These experiences are building my faith. I’m happy to be a missionary!! I love you all!

Elder Johnson

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Missionary Work in Buckley, Washington

I hope you all enjoyed General Conference last weekend!! It was pretty sweet to hear the Prophets and Apostles of the true Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints share messages with power and potential to bless every person willing to hearken to the messages.

This week has been an amazing one to spend as a missionary in the Buckley First Ward. I feel especially touched by importance of sharing the Work of Salvation and the privilege I have to do participate in its sharing as a full-time missionary.

This week I have been blessed to feel great joy from the return of a member of the Ward here to fuller activity in Christ’s Church. Since returning to activity in the Church, this brother’s conversion is manifest in how he can’t help but to share the joy of the Gospel with others. Last night we brought this brother with us to a lesson we were teaching to a family just beginning to investigate the Church; it was an amazing success!! He just wanted to share the Gospel with everyone we saw as we were walking to the appointment. At the family’s door, the father of the family said that he had changed his mind and that he did not want to study the Gospel “with the Mormons.” This newly activated brother bore testimony of the Gospel and of the Book of Mormon. This father’s heart softened and promised to read the Book of Mormon and attend church. I believe that we can all learn from the enthusiasm and faith of this brother from Buckley.

I know that we can all follow the example of this brother and reach out to those around us, without haltering or shrinking in fear of rejection. I know that when we do so, we will see many miracles as members of Christ’s Church. We are so blessed to have the truth of the Gospel and to enjoy the blessings of having living Prophet to guide us. We need to share our testimonies with others!!

http://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/thou-art-the-christ?lang=eng

News From Buckley, Washington

Lot’s of exciting things have been happening in the last few weeks.  First, Alec got to say hi to Elder Harrison Reed, who had been serving in the Tacoma Washington Mission before the creation of the Federal Way Washington Mission.  They are now in the same mission together.  His new mission address is:

Elder Alec Johnson
Washington Federal Way Mission
23175 224th Place SE, Suite E
Maple Valley, Washington 98038

Alec has already been having some great experiences!! He never expected to learn to drive a tractor when he was called to serve in Seattle Washington but he has learned just that while doing some service recently.  He also got to help some church members who were putting some finishing touches on a hobbit home.  The following are from items Alec included in his email home.

President Larkin was an amazing mission president and was able to give me some great advice before he left! He really emphasized the importance of strict obedience and complete consecration of myself as both a missionary and an individual to our Heavenly Father! I agree with the the testimony of President Larkin that we will be able to develop the Patience and Charity we need as servants of our Heavenly Father if we devote everything we have to our service. President Larkin will certainly be missed by everyone who was once a part of the Seattle mission, but we have certainly received a great mission president in Federal Way with the addition of President Eaton!

Things are continuing to go well here in Buckley! I got your package full of goodies last week and I ate the whole thing in one day!

Last week was really cool, on Thursday we got to meet our new mission president, President Eaton. I can tell he’s going to be really great for the mission. He met all of the missionaries individually and then his wife gave a talk on sacrifice and he gave a discussion on charity. You can tell that he was a professor at BYU-Idaho because he makes a lot of dating jokes. You can tell that the Eatons both have an amazing understanding of the gospel. I’ll be able to learn a lot from them! We had a combined Mapley Valley and Pulliop South (spelled wrong) zone conference at the Buckley building and I got to see Elder Reed too! He said that Logan should be getting his mission call soon (Fort Worth Texas Mission) so that’s pretty exciting.

I’ve been finding out that missionary work can be very difficult at times, and I suspect that I will never stop learning ways that I can become a better missionary. It’s an amazing privilege from our Heavenly Father to let us develop Christlike Attributes through service to the Lord. I am very grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to develop a greater understanding of the Atonement and a stronger testimony of the reality that Christ lives and that He loves and knows each and everyone of us personally. As a missionary, I’ve found that a lot of people are “not interested” in hearing a message about Jesus Christ. But, as we learn in 2 Nephi 26, Christ is personally interested in them, and He holds out His hand to offer help through the Atonement “all the day long.”

As a missionary and as a disciple of Christ, its is our privilege to continually invite others to come unto Christ. Even though we may think someone may not want to learn about the Gospel, it is important to remember that the Atonement and the very Doctrine of our Savior, Jesus Christ is meant for everyone of the Father’s children. It has been amazing to see the atonement work in the lives of those in Buckley that we are teaching.  I have learned that many of our Heavenly Father’s children feel a void in their life and are looking for ways to fill that void without knowing exactly where to turn.  I know that this void can be filled by developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I am honored to be able to share the gospel with others so that they can fill this void through faith in Christ and Christ’s Atonement.

My advice to myself and everyone reading this is to forget yourself and go forth to hasten the work!

I’m growing to love missionary work more and more and its crazy how fast the weeks are flying by! It is hard to put into words how much I have grown in the gospel lately! My Heavenly Father has blessed me with amazing experiences as a missionary and I feel so privileged to be serving in the Buckley First Ward at this time! The other day, I was able to give two lesson’s to investigators and I was very humbled by the opportunity.  As we taught one person the Spirit was strong and Elder Foote and I were able to be directed by the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Later in the day, we were blessed with 2 new investigators that came from a referral from a newly returned missionary. They are a father and son and they are awesome guys who were willing to learn about the gospel. It is amazing to me how much the Lord has blessed me and trusted me with so many people to teach.  I was very humbled by the experience  of giving my first lesson in the field (I was on splits with the returned missionary) and I realized that I have a lot more room to progress as a disciple of Christ.

I am trying to develop perfect faith, humility, charity and diligence. I know that I will not be able to succeed in developing these Christlike Attributes by myself, but can by relying wholly on the Atonement and its enabling power, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13) And I know that as I develop faith to rely wholly on the promptings of the Spirit as I teach, the humility to turn myself over to the Lord and submit my desires to His will, the charity to turn completely look outward and focus on the needs of those investigators that I have been blessed to teach; that I will be able to see many souls enter in to the waters of baptism and be blessed as they grow closer to Christ.

Mount RainierHobbit HouseAt Airport Going to Seattle

News From the MTC

The MTC has been great and I’m learning a whole lot! I hope everything is going well! I’m getting excited to leave soon!

Unfortunately, Elder Christiansen (friend, also from the Durango Ward) is in Wyview while I’m on the main MTC campus so basically I’ll never see him. And I haven’t seen Elder Stepan (cousin) yet but I think most Spanish speakers are on the main MTC campus so I’m hoping I see him before I leave early on Tuesday morning. I wish I would have seen Elder Christiansen at the devotional on Tuesday, but there were 3000 missionaries or so packed into the Marriott Center so that would have been unlikely.

We are really busy here. We have about 2 3-hour blocks of class each day, about 50 min for gym time, and 45 min for meals, and almost every night we have “Teaching Resource Clinic” where we practice teaching. The rest of the time is spent in studying, companionship inventory, or other preparation. The days are really long but its good because we learn alot and are progressing alot as missionaries.

The missionaries in my district/class are already some of my closest friends! Its great! 4 of the Elders in my district are going to St. Louis and I’m going to miss them pretty bad; but my companion and I, and all of the sisters in my district, and another entire district in my zone are going to Seattle with me.

The MTC is a pretty hard experience sometimes and it’s definitely humbling but its also super spiritual and uplifting! My testimony of prayer and the enabling power of the Atonement has grown greatly since entering the MTC. When I was first set apart as a missionary, I started to have great feelings of inadequacy. I realize now that these feelings were from Satan, but at first it felt like I wasn’t and couldn’t become a good missionary. As I prayed for strength from my Heavenly Father, I was able to recieve feelings of comfort. Since entering the MTC, those feelings of comfort have grown, and I know that I’ve grown a lot as a missionary. While I am still far from the perfect missionary, I know that my Heavenly Father has given me the strength to overcome trials, to grow, and to develop a greater understanding of the Gospel that I will be preaching to others in a few short days.

I testify that Jesus Christ really is our Savior and Redeemer, and that through His Atonement, we can change, and become better servants to Him. He loves us perfectly and will always be there willing to help us overcome our individual inadequacies. Simply put, He wants us to Come Unto Him, and partake of love, and receive the benefit of His Atonement

Me, Elder England (in the middle), and Elder Bachelor (my companion)

Me, Elder England (in the middle), and Elder Bachelor (my companion)

The Elders in my MTC District

The Elders in my MTC District

DSC00009

My entire District.

My entire District.

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I AM ACCEPTING LETTERS!!! (and Emails)

My given name is Alec Reed Johnson, but as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I go by the ‘title’ Elder Johnson. I have been called to serve the Lord and his children in the Washington Seattle Mission and here on this blog are my stories.

Doctrine and Covenants, Chapter 64, Versus 33-34 is the scripture that I choose as my personal “Mission Scripture” for my Missionary Plaque which is hanging in my home ward. The scripture reads:

“Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”

I choose this scripture to put on my missionary plaque because I think it highlights many of my goals during my time as a missionary. I want to love the people I serve with a sincere heart, and I can’t wait to see the many great works they will perform as they come unto Christ. I want to be the kind of missionary who is willing to work as hard as I can to help the people I am serving. And I want to be an obedient missionary as I strive to follow all of the mission rules. I hope my posts on this blog will show that I am true to these goals.

In case you were looking for a little more information, I keep this blog updated by sending journal posts to my family via email and they transform those into blog entries. I will be very busy as a missionary so communication with friends, family and acquaintances from home is difficult. However, I am accepting and replying to personal letters as often as I am able, and once a week I will spend an hour trying to reply to as many emails as possible.

If you would like to send me letters while in the MTC my mailing address will be…

Elder Alec Reed Johnson
JUN18 WA-SEA
2007 N 900 E Unit 99
Provo UT 84602

After June 18th, 2013, I will arrive in Seattle, Washington and my mailing address will change to…

Elder Alec Reed Johnson
Washington Seattle Mission
10675 NE 20th St.
Bellevue, WA 98004
United States

If you would like to send me emails, the only email address that I will be checking is…

alec.johnson@myldsmail.net

Below this post, you will find a copy of the last talk I gave in church at my home ward before leaving on a mission. I gave the talk on Mother’s Day and focused on how my mom helped prepare me to serve the Lord as a full-time missionary.

Farewell Talk

My name is Alec Johnson and though I see some new faces having been gone at college for so long, many of you already know me from the many ways in which you have helped to shape me into the missionary I hope to be this June.

I was going to start my talk with a joke about sitting down after 2 minutes, right Erik? Instead let me say Happy Mother’s Day to the moms, grandmas, aunts and the many other female friends and examples in my life here today. I think that the greatest compliment and present that I can give my mom is my life as a righteous priesthood holder.

I found it somewhat befitting that Erik and I should speak today given the context of our similar situations. We finished high school together, both of us spent a year away at college, and we are both beginning to enter the world by ourselves. We are working with our life skills and our own testimonies and sooner than we think, we will be out on our own. We won’t have our mothers on our missions to hold our hands, but we will surely take our memories and the lessons our mothers have left us.

Now Erik and I have had different experiences and different mothers, so I can’t tell you exactly how Erik’s mom helped him prepare to serve a mission. However, I suspect that we have similar feelings towards our mothers. I certainly feel like my mom has been the best possible mom for me. I love her and I will tell you that she has done wonders to prepare me, temporally and spiritually to live in the world and more importantly to serve our Heavenly Father’s children in Seattle, Washington. She has prepared me to serve The Lord, teach His Gospel, and help my Brothers and Sisters to act on their desire to learn and accept the Great Gospel of Jesus Christ.

While I fully understand, even though I am young, that not every mother, father, and family, in the Church has the opportunity to, or even the capacity to make the choice to have a “stay at home mom”, I feel very blessed that my Mom was able to make that choice. However, I firmly believe that the power for good that my Mom has effected in my life has more to do with her CHOICE to serve Heaven than some “idealized” “perfect” and “imaginary” notion of the perfect “mom”.  My Mom, like most moms I suspect, has much too frequently been taken for granted, overlooked for praise, and been the recipient of too many eye rolls.  My “stay at home mom” has done the cooking and cleaning and correcting and care taking that most moms are left to do, but I want to emphasize that she has done so much more for me and so much more to get me ready for missionary work than simply feeding and cleaning and correcting. My Mother is one of the greatest role models in my life. I have been blessed because I had a mother who, as stated in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, fulfilled her “sacred duty to rear … children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs (1), and to teach them to love and serve one another (2), observe the commandments of God (3), and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live” as an equal partner to my father. She did this by making her choice to prioritize me, my brothers, and my sister.  In making this choice, she has taught by her words, example, and life what I need to do to care for the physical and spiritual needs of the people living in Seattle.

First, as an equal partner to my father, my mom has raised me in love and righteousness and has provided for my physical and spiritual needs. While my mom was baptized into the church by her dad when she was 8, she has not always had her parents with her when she attended church. As a youth she had to make the decision by herself to attend church actively. Later, when she was 18, my mom left her small home town in eastern Ohio, and moved all the way to Utah and through her hard work she was able to support herself as she lived on her own and attended school. My mom married my dad in the temple and together they are raising a family in the church.  My life has been greatly blessed because of these and other choices made by my mother and father.

In Joshua Chapter 24 Verse 15, it reads:

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

This passage of scripture from Joshua reminds me a lot of the example that my mother has shown throughout my life. Because of my mother’s testimony, she chooses to follow the Saviour. In harmony this choice, my mother has cultivated a home centered in the gospel and gave me her own example of hard work and righteous living. Because of this choice, I have been able to learn hard work after the example of my mother, but more importantly, I have developed a testimony of the truthfulness of this Gospel. These blessings, of the ability to work hard and rely on my testimony, will serve me well as I enter the mission field.

Second, my mom has taught me to love and serve those around me. If you ask my mom, she will tell you that all of my friends like her because she is “hip” and “cool.” Now for my own safety I won’t comment on that, but I will say that I have been blessed to have a very kind person as my mother and I have quite a challenge ahead of me as I look to follow after that example. I have learned a lot about charity and service after the example of my mother, and I will be able to carry the desire to serve into the mission field, where I hope it will grow exponentially.

Third, my mom has raised me to keep the commandments of God. She has taught me the importance of being active in the church throughout my childhood as she regularly attended meetings with me. Through the example of my mother I have been able to see how a testimony and membership in this church has brought peace and joy into her life. I have always known that my mom has a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and the Atonement.

I say that I consider my mom to be a personal role model to me, and this is because more than anybody else that I have ever met in my life, my mom’s personal testimony has stood out to me. The example of my mother’s conviction and the way the gospel has dramatically changed her life and consequently my own, has impressed me from a very young age. Before I gained my own testimony of this Gospel, I relied on the testimony of my mother for strength. And because of the great conviction that I recognized in my own mother, I was able to grow a strong desire to know for myself that the Book of Mormon is true, and that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and gave us His Son, Jesus Christ to Atone for our sins. I owe my ability to stand here today and testify of the truthfulness of these things to my desire to act on the example of my mother.

My Dad recently suggested that I read the book, The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.  The book is C.S. Lewis’ response to William Blake’s book, the Marriage of Heaven and Hell.  In it Lewis writes of the marriage discussed by Blake, “in some sense or other the attempt to make that marriage (the marriage of Heaven and Hell) is perennial.  The attempt is based on the belief that reality never presents us with an absolutely unavoidable ‘either-or’; that, granted skill and patience and (above all) time enough, some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found; that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we would like to retain.”  Dr. Lewis continued, “This belief I take to be a disastrous error.”  This insistance on NOT being able keep just a little bit of Hell with us is NOT to suggest that we are doomed or that we need not have hope in Christ’s Atonement.  Rather, as Dr. Lewis wrote, “A wrong sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.  Evil can be undone, but it cannot “develop” into good.  Time does not heal it… …If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”  My Mother’s example has taught me this principle, eloquently stated by Dr. Lewis, that I take to essentially be an invitation to pursue a quest for obedience–that by Choosing to Obey, by Choosing Heaven or Heavenly Father, over Hell, I can be assured that my Heavenly Father will be there to watch over and protect me. Indeed, I have grown to identify with the Armies of Helamen as described in Alma Chapter 56, Versus 47 through 48:

“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: we do not doubt our mothers knew it.”

            I am very grateful for the woman who I get to call “Mom.” She has been instrumental in shaping me in to the person I will be when I enter the Missionary Training  Center, and my entire life will be affected by her choices, her example, and her teachings; the ones she gave to me as a child, as a teen, and as a young adult. If I were to describe the perfect missionary I would use phrases like: strong testimony, powerful in faith, exact obedience, having the charity of Christ, willingness to serve, and willingness to do hard work. I know I have a lot of work to do to develop these traits better on my mission, but if I have anyone to thank for helping me grow in this way, it’s my Mom.

            I know that Heavenly Father did send His Son, Jesus Christ to Atone for our sins. I know that Jesus Christ, did leave the Comforter, The Holy Ghost to guide us in righteousness. I know that our Heavenly Father has given us Prophets and Apostles to teach and exhort. I know that these Prophets existed in the time of the Old Testament and New Testament. I know that these Prophets were established in ancient America and that their history and teachings are found in  the Book of Mormon. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, that it is the Word of God, and that it testifies of Jesus Christ. I know that Heavenly Father called Joseph Smith as the first Latter Day prophet, who restored the fullness of the Gospel, including the Book of Mormon. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the living Prophet today and that he receives revelation from God to lead this church. I know these things and I know that my mom knows these things, and therefore I do not doubt in the Lord. I am excited to carry this conviction with me to Seattle Washington where I will be able to teach my fellow brothers and sisters. I am excited to be an instrument in the Lord’s hand’s for encouraging others to “choose” Heaven and I am excited to help other’s come unto Christ, partake of His Atonement, and gain a similar testimony of Christ’s unending love for them.

In closing, I testify that we have a Saviour in our Lord Jesus Christ. He has an infinite love, infinite mercy, and infinite grace that He wants to bless us with. Through His Atonement is everything good is made possible. Our sins can be forgiven; our tribulations overcome; and our sorrows and wounds healed through the everlasting power that comes from this Atonement. I testify that these things are true in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.