Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10/20/14 We get to "Meet the Mormons"

Dear family and friends,

I'm pretty bad at remembering what I want to write in the weekly
letters! But that's ok. I'll just write what my heart desires!

Anyways, I think the highlight of our week was our zone conference on
Friday. So we weren't allowed to go see Meet The Mormons at the
theater of course, because that would just be trouble. But my MTC
companion who's in my mission in Vallejo emailed me (which is against
the rules we know now even if he's a guy!) about how at their zone
conferee they watched the movie! And I of course freaked out and told
my whole apartment. They're like, no way!! And then our zone leaders
came over to help us with 12 week training study as we call it, and
Elder says, "How are we supposed to talk to people about this movie we
haven't seen!" They, having already known we were going to watch it in
2 days just kinda went quiet and went, "uhhhh idk!" Haha so basically
we were positive we were going to see this movie! (This is a big deal
because the only moving pictures we can watch are mormon messages and
videos we take of each other)

So at zone conference President Alba shows us the trailer with David
Archuleta singing "Glorious" and asks us if we know enough about the
movie to talk to people about it. We all just kinda stared blankly. At
this point I was thinking, "we better watch it.." He sits there for a
second, and then he says, "do you guys want to watch it??"

The room exploded into a "YES!!" And everyone was cheering and me and
Elder Roper stood up and high-fived, and it was hilarious. President
Alba responded by saying, "I've never seen you guys more excited about
anything!" Haha I felt super cool because I knew it all along (kind

So we watched it and we got a bunch of snacks as we watched it on a
huge projector in the church gym. It was sweet. It was such a great
opportunity to remind us in a way of how the gospel blesses each of
us. The last one with the missionary mom just made me think, "wow I
have a long time left.." Haha But her story was also amazing because I
remember when she expressed how she didn't want to hear about God
after her second son died right after birth. It's a tough thing to
know how to teach someone how the gospel can help them at such a time.
We taught a member yesterday, which was great because we've had a
total of about four teaching opportunities while I have been here. But
anyways he was about 30 and had served a mission, but had gotten
divorced after having three kids. He said, "I don't want to hear about
eternal families or anything like that." He was nice to us, but said
he just was taking a "vacation" of sorts from church. It was a bit
eye-opening for me. We showed him the "Mountains to Climb" video of
Henry B. Eyring's talk. It is amazing! You all should watch it. I
think it was a good option to show him because it emphasizes that even
a twig of faith can let the lord help us when we feel we are losing
the ability to endure. The guy we were teaching asked us if we had
ever been devastated by anything. My brain went, "uhhhhhhh" I realized
I didn't have an answer! It made me realize I have been blessed in my
life. It was an interesting lesson, but we left a blessing on his
home, and the spirit was there.

This email is really long, but deal with it :) another funny thing
about yesterday was we sort of stole our roommates' investigator.
She's an older lady who's 13 year old granddaughter just got baptized.
(Who apparently had a huge crush on the missionary who just left) So
that's an interesting situation haha.

We had Thomas there, a recent convert who is so golden! He's about 19
and Hispanic, and he's flippin hilarious. He was baptized two months
ago, but he knows so much about the church you can't tell. Elder Roper
baptized him, and he is with us a lot and drives us around. He is so
amazing and impresses me the more I'm around him. He recently broke up
with his girlfriend of 3 years because he felt she wouldn't help him
keep his covenants. Like, WOW that's real commitment. He also is
planning on a mission next summer! It's sweet. I told him I think he
is going to the Jacksonville, Florida Mission and he's going to eat
dinner at Elder Roper's greenie's house. That would be so momentous.

So I'll shut up now, but I just want to tell you all that I love you
guys. It's kind of funny because all the missionaries in our district
always say we love each other. (Not the sisters though because that's
kinda not allowed) But anyways, thank you all for actually caring
about my life! Haha it feels good to have a lot of support, even if it
is across the country!

I know this church is true, and I can already tell a mission is going
to be the most important thing I've ever done. I hope I can do all the
Lord wants and expects of me. Keep me in your prayers, and I'll pray
for you all. Thank you!

Elder Janson

Me in Elder Roper's iron man morph suit

That's me and Elder Sutterfield

Us asking for service opportunities!

Friday, October 17, 2014

10/13/14 "I was praying for you to come over ..."

Hey family and friends,

So first, Happy Birthday Mother! Haha can't forget that! Just like
when I introduced myself at the pulpit yesterday in church I
completely forgot to say where I was from! But people figured it out.
One guy said he doesn't think they've ever had a missionary from
Florida, so I'm pretty amazing basically.

Turns out we can't even see Meet The Mormons! Probably we just can't
be in a movie theater, which is understandable. I hope they let us
watch it at zone conference or something haha. We hope people will be
nicer to us because of it!

So I guess I'm just going to blabber on a little bit. As I'm out here
I'm realizing, oh, I'm going to be here for two years! It's weird, but
at the same time it feels so different from real life it's not that
bad. Also being so close to God every day makes everything easier.

So it turns out that people in California are jerks. Haha my companion
always says people in Idaho are way nicer. We went service tracting
and this lady, after we offered her free service, says, "there's no
such thing as free!" And we're like, um ok. Sometimes I don't know why
people are so grumpy. One guy was saying, "did you see my no
soliciting sign?" And Elder Roper is like we aren't selling anything.
Then he says were selling a belief system. Whatever sir! Haha

I also just have to say, there is not many things I am more afraid of
than street contacting. I would rather go bungee jumping off the
biggest cliff in the world than start talking to a random person on
the street! It's really bad haha. Elder Roper told me he hates it too,
but he prays for the lord to open his mouth, and he's doing fine now.
And he also told me I know a lot more than he did at my point in my
mission. Sometimes I don't give myself enough credit. But that's what
we constantly try to do, is have faith that the lord can open our
mouth. It might take awhile, but I know with his help it is possible.

So besides all this not positive stuff, a really cool thing happened
yesterday. We had only knocked on maybe four doors when the next door,
the lady opened the door, and said, "no way! I was praying for you
guys to come over! Come in! My name is Sister Montgomery." We're
like.... Uhhhh what?? Haha not what you expect at a door as a
missionary. It turns out she's here from Seattle because of her
father's passing, and she was there with her nephews who are agnostic.
She sent them a picture of us and said, look! I prayed and they came!
Haha it was nuts. We're going to go back Tuesday to help her a little
bit. Elder roper said in his 16 months that has never happened to him.
And for planning last week we both just decided to tract that street
at that time yesterday. Just thought that was a good confirmation that
even though we aren't really teaching anyone and it feels like we
aren't doing anything, we aren't forgotten.

So I want to bear my testimony that prayer works! If we can exercise
enough faith to just pray a little, it can make all the difference. I
know that if we keep trying, we will have success. "Bear with patience
all thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." (Alma 26:27)

I love all you guys and I'll send pictures and a pretty hilarious video maybe :)

Elder Janson

We saw this guy at a member's house.

Another biking picture ... (and he his catching up to his companion with practice :)

That frog was one of our investigators that we taught a whole lesson to. haha

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

10/6/14 First Real Week (according to Elder Janson)

Hello Family!

So I'm sending this to like everyone that has emailed me, I don't know
if that's how we wanna do it, but that's how I am doing so you guys
gotta deal with it I guess :)

So, everybody! It's actually surprisingly hot here during the day. Not
as hot as Florida, but hot enough that riding a bike at 3 pm isn't
that exciting. On the other hand, riding our bike at 7 pm
 is WONDERFUL. It goes from like 50 degrees in the morning to 90 in the
middle of the day. Kind of weird. I actually need a blanket at night.

The four Elders in my apartment are my trainer, Elder Roper, then
Elder Sutterfield and Elder Wilkes. Elder Roper is from Idaho,
Sutterfield from the exotic Springville, Utah, and Elder Wilkes from
the great Newcastle, Wyoming. I feel pretty special haha. It was funny
on the transfer day, all the missionary were in the mission home (just
part of a church building) and all the greenies stood up and said
where the were from etc. People many people cheered for Utah, Texas,
and Arizona. Not so many for the famous Gainesville, Florida. They
just don't understand I guess. That first night after flying to
California we stayed in a nice hotel just with our same room
arrangements from the MTC.  Apparently that was supposed to be our last
good nights sleep for 2 years, but I've slept fine in our bunk beds in
our tiny apartment. I'm blessed to be able to sleep no matter where I

The next morning, we woke up, went to the mission home, and sat and
waited with the trainers for the President Alba to go choose our
trainers. I never knew this would be so suspenseful. Of course me and
my MTC buddies were trying to guess our trainers. None of us were
right of course.

We haven't even done that much actual missionary work, because we've
had multiple meetings, transfer firesides, zone meeting, weekly
planning, and so on. General conference takes all day too. So tomorrow
I'm actually gonna have to get down to business. We've had a couple
crazy people talk to us on the street, but that's about it. One drunk
guy talked to us for 30 minutes, no exaggeration.

When I first got here I was kind of sad and felt discouraged, but I
think I will get used to it. It's just kind of a shock all of the
sudden being here. It almost came too fast, and the MTC doesn't
prepare you to do much but be around a bunch of missionaries. I'm
trying to remember to pray and seek the spirit in what we do, because
that is the important thing.

I just want to say I'm glad to be out here, and I know it's what I
need to be doing right now. It still feels weird, but I know the
church is true and I know why we share it, as Elder Bednar explained
so well by his hilarious story. In the MTC we watched a past fireside
he had done where he compares missionary impatience with the Cookie
Monster. Like he says, "I want cookie now!" Some of us may say, "I
want baptism now!" I've never seen Elder Bednar so bold, as he said,
"it's not about you! Nobody cares about you!" Like literally that's
what he said! Me and my MTC district loved it.

I'll send some random pictures of the guys in my apartment that I'm
sure you will appreciate.

I know this church his true and the Book of Mormon is the word of God.
I hope I can help those who are in need of this gospel, and let them
see what it can do for them. Thank you everyone for caring about me
and don't be afraid to send stuff to that address above. ;p I would
greatly appreciate it!

I love all of you and your support, and keep emailing me!

Love Elder Janson

Sister and Elders from Joseph's MTC District.   That's Sister Eyden who is so happy, along with the short Canadian Elder Green and My MTC companion Elder Searle who always falls asleep

Yes that's a Lamborghini in front of our hotel the first night. 

That's me biking :) 

Elder Wilkes is the big guy

Elder Sutterfield is the little guy stuffing his face with a hoody

Elder Roper is staring at me creepily on the chair. He's my amazing trainer haha

Saturday, October 4, 2014

10/4/14 Surprise email!

I finally opened my emails today after being on a trip for a few days and got a wonderful surprise!  Brother and Sister Potter in the Peterson Lane Ward in Santa Rosa sent a picture of Joseph and his new companion Elder Roper (on the far left) having dinner in their home on his second day in California.  What a wonderful idea for parents of missionaries!!  I am definitely doing this the next time I feed the missionaries.  We didn't think we would know about Joseph's assignment or companion until we heard from him on Monday, but this was a fun preview.
He looks good ... and full  :)  So we know he made it and is doing well and getting some good food along the way.

09/30/14 Week 2 Go West Young Man ... to California!

On Tuesday, Joseph flew to his mission in Santa Rosa.  He was traveling with 24 missionaries, all going to the same mission.  Can you imagine what the other passengers on that airplane must have thought?  It may have looked like a Mormon Missionary Invasion!  But they may have also felt like having all those servants for the Lord on board was a great insurance policy :)

Joseph got a fun surprise in the airport while he was buying breakfast at McDonalds.  According to him, it was the best meal he had had in 12 days (haha).  After the cashier had told Joseph the price of his meal, a stranger took out his credit card, swiped it and walked off with a smile.  Joseph was so surprised he was confused for a moment.  He asked the cashier what just happened.  The cashier assured him, "That guy just paid for your meal!"  What a great way to start the day.

His flight left Salt Lake at about 9 am Utah time.  He was able to call home for a few minutes from the airport before he boarded.  It was delightful to hear his voice and the excitement he had for this next part of his mission.

He also sent along a short hand written letter we received this week.  He referenced the scripture Alma 26:27 and encouraged us to read it::
 27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.
I am sure this passage gives him a feeling of hope as he faces a new challenge that brings many unknowns--A new state to live in, a new companion, a new city to get to know, a new ward, and a new daily schedule that will test his strength.  But the Lord will give him success and comfort him as He promised.

His next preparation day will be Monday, October 6th, so we will send along his next email to you all.