So coming into New Jersey was pretty crazy. Driving around the city I was sketched out! There are so many gangs and some seriously rough looking people. Anyways I was really nervous to just go around walking in the inner city talking to convicts about God.
Oh! I should probably mention that I've been assigned to the North Newark walking area!
My companion's name is Elder Langi, he's a super chill Tongan from Texas and I know that he's my companion for a reason.
Serving a mission is the greatest blessing that I have ever been given other than my family. Although every day is about work and planning and giving up more, and this area is super sketch, I don't think that I have ever been more comfortable with where I am or even who I am. I wish that I had more time to write about my experiences but there are just too many "best" things to do.
I want to share my testimony that I know that life is hard. It can be incredibly difficult. But I know that the atonement is for our use in those everyday things that make life heavy. For those of us who are members of this church and even for those outside, too often we take the atonement for granted. Too often we're told that Jesus Christ suffered for our sins. So if there is one thing that I could tell you about being a missionary in the field this last week it would be that He suffered that we may be happy. Happy in everything we do.
Personally, I've struggled a lot with trying to be the best that I can be. I'm a lot like a wide-eyed child right before an Easter egg hunt, wanting to find everything at once so I won't lose my treasure. If we do that, if we place significance in every Easter egg than we will never truly value what is inside. In terms of counsel that we receive and experiences that allow us to better our selves, we must continually "become" because "becaming" is no fun.
Valuing the experiences and admiring the beauty within New Jersey is what makes me happy. It helps me love who I am as I continue to become. This place is beautiful and despite all the sirens and car alarms, despite all the trash littered in the streets and parks, there is a serenity in the service I am given as I do my best to serve the people.
The people here in New Jersey are incredible and I learn to love them more everyday. I don't see them anymore but instead there is a happiness I feel when I encounter them. It is absolutely marvelous to where His name on my chest. It is incredible to walk down a street, listening to gang bangers cursing each other out and then to see them stop their conversations just to turn to us and yell "God bless".
It's these moments that I find beautiful, the cleansing power of the Lord and the Spirit in giving people a chance to be better. And I consider myself the luckiest man alive to be a tool, solely dedicated these two years to help people have the opportunity to do nice things, to become nicer people. Even if that means that they say "God bless" to one more person then us, that is progression and in the words of Alma 32, it must needs be good.
Hopefully my words make sense and hopefully you feel the Spirit through my words. But thank you family, thank you friends, I love you all but now I must get back to work.
Elder Lucas Michael Johnson
New Jersey, Morristown Mission