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First Week! Week 1: Jul 14 - 16 (2021)

Hey folks! Little late (oops) but welcome to the first email!

If someone you know wants to sign up for these, or if you want to view the archives (eventually when there are any), I've added a blog page (with a sign up sheet) to my website at https://jjricks.com/mission-blog.

In terms of first weeks, I'd say it was pretty great!

On day one, I was late 15 minutes because the car wouldn't start... but I made it to the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center just fine. Starting out I got a tour of the building (including up on the catwalk), moved some wooden platforms around onto the stage, and dug around the pit and a shipping container (yes, a full size shipping container just sitting in the back lot) for some red aprons. (Kids at drama camp practicing Wizard of Oz needed them) I've also started reading some documentation on how to change the marquee signs outside the building; supposedly the one closest to the road is a weird outdated system barely anyone remembers how to use, and they want me to learn... so that will be exciting!

Second day, Elder Tucker and I were the first service missionaries to serve at a brand new location: U.C.C.A.N.! They run help programs for adults and teens--life skill workshops and whatnot. And we were promptly late by half an hour because we got lost in east Mesa. Ha. Once there, the task of the day was to make some informative flyers for U.C.C.A.N.'s social media pages. They just basically gave us a binder of random flyers/community help info (they wanted us to remake them in "our own style") and said 'good luck.' There's nothing like busting out your old friend Photoshop on the second day of the mission. In summary, I did some basic graphic design while listening to heavy gospel music for a few hours. (If it were my playlist it'd be slightly different, but hey I can't really complain)

Third day, Elder Tucker and I (not companions--rather, good friends and houses are close so we carpool) hopped over to the Somali American United Council. (nonprofit that supports refugees and helps them integrate into a new society) Elder Tucker holds a class doing art projects with the kids while their parents learn English/how to use a computer/how to do taxes/pass the citizenship test in the other room. My rough plan for the day was to assist with those computer classes, but instead I was put in a meeting asking me to help set up social media accounts for the organization. Apparently they're required now to apply for grants. (Yikes!) I was also pulled into a room and trained on how to not do seemingly benign gestures that it turns out are incredibly offensive to other cultures. At least I didn't learn the hard way. But hey, it's super cool to be there and learn new things!

Since I started on Wednesday, that was about it for service locations.

Still working out permissions for taking pictures of the locations (especially Somali Center), but here's what I did get!

From the studies this week:

Mosiah 15:8

"And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men--"

Elder Johnson

Marquees! Week 2: Jul 19 - 23

Greetings!

This week on Monday I served at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. Starting out it looked like I was going to sweep and mop the stage, but because the broom was kinda broken I got to work on new slides for the street marquee instead! Woohoo! Getting to mess with Photoshop for several hours as a service to other people is honestly not what I anticipated doing this early on, but I'm all in. (Bunch of pics attached)

Tuesday, I went to the office our service mission has (borrows, at a business park. My companion's parents rent it for their cybersecurity firm apparently) to work on... well I'm not really sure what the plan was, but I ended up busting out Adobe Premiere and editing one of the Missionary Training Network videos in the Lightbulb Moments with Lund series. (on a computer with a graphics card from 2008, and a CPU so old Task Manager didn't even recognize it. Luckily the craziest effect in those videos is just some text to show scriptures on the screen, so it wasn't all that bad) Basically spiritual thoughts with a seasoned institute teacher. After all the social media team meetings this week, I ended up finishing the edit on three of them in total. I can't say spiritual experiences come often while editing videos, but these were great exceptions. Sadly it seems as if the viewership numbers on those (and the Missionary Training Network content in general) are still quite small. Oh well. I linked the only one that's published yet as the spiritual thought for the week, worth a watch if you have 10 minutes.

Wednesday, it was back to the PAC. For the five hours I had there it was all about the marquee. Made two new slides, organized some of the folders/files, and fixed the other two designs I made on Monday to be adaptable for two different screens. (QCPAC has two marquees, one on the building and one by the street. Trying to make a design that gets the message across quickly, is readable on screens less than 150 pixels wide, and is also adaptable enough to fit within two wildly different aspect ratios was a new challenge for me, but a fun one. Then I had to tweak things a bunch since the boss lady wasn't happy with the layout. Ha, such is life.

Thursday, spent at UCCAN making flyers for their social media pages. Except a few minutes in, an electrician guy working in the ceiling shut the power off to the office. Since my laptop battery is notoriously bad (model with the specs meant for gaming, but I use that power for 3D rendering and video editing instead) I had about 30 minutes to whip up something. Then the power came back within about the last hour I was there, so I only had time to make two flyers in total. Hopefully they'll be useful for somebody!

Friday at the Somali Center, Elder Tucker had a cool art project planned for the kids (paper hexaflexagons, you can fold them in an infinite loop) but none of the parents (and by extension, the kids) showed up for lessons. (Our guess is because of the heavy rain) So we kind of didn't do all that much, but I suppose the art project is ready for next week!

Spiritual thought:

Lightbulb Moments With Lund; object lesson with the Japanese art of Kintsugi (11 minutes) https://youtu.be/3YX1R_a65w0

Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/MjEZu5Ju4Vnv1rFm6

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog

All the best,

Elder Johnson

We got to smash a bunch of wood scraps. Week 3: Jul 26 - 30

Hey all!

Monday at the Performing Arts Center, we started out by helping them chip away at a scrap wood pile; stuff used in previous shows. Basically just stomping on individual pieces so they could fit in the dumpster. We filled up the whole thing! (Fun pics and video from that) Next, we started taking inventory of the.... well they call them "torms" but I'm not even sure that's a real term. On stage left and stage right there are two sets of ladders/steps up to the catwalk. On the in-between level is some storage space they call the torms. We took pictures and noted items on a clipboard, then transferred those to a spreadsheet. The ultimate goal is some sort of QR code inventory system for every prop, costume, etc. in the entire place. (it's a giant currently a giant mess.) If anyone knows a thing or two about those types of systems, (we certainly don't) shoot me an email--I'm sure they'd appreciate it. Finally, it was back to Photoshop putting the finishing touches on some of the marquee slides. This time, the head boss lady was there. A lot easier to nail down exactly what the client is looking for when they're giving you live feedback, eh?

Tuesday at the office, doing... well there's not much to do for me yet, but I'm told they're working on it.

Wednesday, back to PAC! Spent the entire time flipping through a production script of Shrek: The Musical Jr. and noting the scene location of every song, who's singing, who's speaking, etc. all into a spreadsheet. Best part was finding out that the dragon's roar technically counts as a song. You wouldn't be able to tell watching in the audience (I think), but look at the picture of the page, it's hilarious. A staff, time and key signature... all for a single note!

Thursday at UCCAN, Elder Tucker and I helped them freshen up their online profile with ASU Givepulse. (Looks like a community outreach thing) I mostly just drafted a bunch of variations on their logo's color palette for use in different situations.

Friday at the Somali Center, I helped out with Elder Tucker's art class for the kids. We had them finish folding and coloring the paper hexaflexagons, then afterwards just us elders made paper cranes with the extra time.

And that was about all for this week!

Spiritual thought is the third Lightbulb Moments With Lund video that I had the pleasure of editing, it's a really good one. The Parable of the Pioneer Woman and the Bread (11 mins) https://youtu.be/b4Qx-TqjU00

Pics/videos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/9CCx2mEdP7Ln6cdj7

All the best!
Elder Johnson

Dragon Head. Week 4: August 2 - 6

Howdy!

This (well now last, I'm late again) week was great; I had a bonus day at the Performing Arts Center! Lemme tell you how it went down.

Monday, the PAC needed some large raised platforms moved from outside and onto the stage. At about 10 feet tall, thankfully they were constructed with wheels. Got some fun video of those being moved. Then I got to carry a huge heavy dragon-head prop down an incredibly steep staircase/ladder. Somehow, we made it work! Finally, I sorted batteries into different containers based on how full they were. Afterward the whole service mission piled over to our mission leaders' house, where I got to help make dinner. (Tomato slicing timelapse in the album) Afterwards we played a party game called Mafia, kind of in the 'whodunnit' genre. Also have a special 360 video of that in the album.

Tuesday, I found out abruptly that the office we usually go to for work on the IGOAL program (I'm still figuring out exactly what that is) was being torn out... so after some calling around, I figured out activities were taking place at the McQueen building. Turns out, that's where the Lightbulb Moments With Lund set is! Plus a podcast studio. All I was asked to do that day was help move some computer peripherals from the office out of Elder McCurdy's car and into the Lightbulb studio. Then some folks in a truck rolled up in the parking lot and asked for change to get gas. I filled 'em up instead, that was fun. Afterward there was nothing else to do, so I just went over to the PAC to help with whatever was going on. They were sorting the old paint storage and removing the stuff that wasn't good anymore, so I chipped in on that. Then I did some leaf blowing around the building, and worked a bit more on the battery sorting.

Wednesday at the PAC again (it's my favorite service location) there was a ton of heavy lifting going on. We reorganized an entire area of the shop, it looks so much nicer now! Only caught the last little bit, but there's a super cool 360 timelapse of that in the album. (A lot of great stuff in the album this week.) Then we disassembled a small staircase, which took longer than I would have expected. (Hundreds of screws in that thing) You guessed it, there's a timelapse! I'm going all in on this GoPro thing. There weren't enough drills to go around, so for the last half I was on screw pickup duty with the magnet-on-wheels broom thing.

Thursday at UCCAN, Elder Tucker organized/redesigned a powerpoint they needed work done on, while I helped sort out some issues with their website. Mostly removing Lorem Ipsum text and cleaning up the footer. You can check it out at https://uccangroup.org

Friday at the Somali Center, I shadowed at the computer class and helped teach a bit. Most of the folks were working on typing, signing into their email, and website navigation. The missionary that was in charge of the computer class had his last day on Friday, so it looks like Elder Tucker and I might be taking over for now. Should be fun!

Spiritual thought is the last Lightbulb Moments video I got to edit, hopefully there's more soon: https://youtu.be/2oVojz_-VG4
Pics/videos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/EW8mgnSvC5RzrEXA9

Email archive and list signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog

Best,

Elder Johnson

Out of Tune Piano. Week 5: August 9 - 13

Heya folks!

This week was pretty great, here's the quick breakdown of events:

Monday at the performing arts center, we began construction work on those rolling platforms from last week, to get them ready for use in Addams Family. Tough work, but we made quite a bit of progress! During a water break I played the piano in the green room a bit, and my ears very quickly told me it was in desperate need of tuning. Elder Perkes captured the moment.

Tuesday nothing was happening at IGOAL (next week maybe?) so I made it my piano practice day. Working on two songs for the mission now; one for a sacrament meeting and one for the Christmas concert. Will probably send music video progress updates as I get a little better at them.

Wednesday at the PAC, more set construction! Absolutely exhausting, but again it's great to see the progress. Have so much more respect for set designers now. (Also there's a painting timelapse in the album)

Thursday at UCCAN wasn't very busy, so I just worked on improving the website a bit; polishing details here and there and fixing page redirects.

Friday at the Somali Center I helped one of the folks that came to computer class practice typing, he made some great progress!

And that's about all for this week, thanks for reading!

Elder Johnson

Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ogRzgYY47wPXeaG28

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog

Thought for this week: a very short video I shot/edited for Elder Egg, to be published on the mission's social media channels https://youtu.be/D0AzBp2ZLNw

Huge Boxes of Froot [sic] Loops. Week 6: August 16 - 20

Hey hey!

Welcome to this week's email! Let's get down to business.

Monday was PAC time, and we did quite a bit! First, we put several hundred scripts for Shrek Jr. into individual folders, then we filled up an entire commercial fridge in the serving area with water bottles. Got it down to a system! Then we went up to the stage to cut some wood pieces for the Addams Family set.

Tuesday was piano practice day; still chugging along on those two songs.

Wednesday, back at the PAC it was painting day. We helped Sister Critchfield fix up a prop tree made of cloth and chicken wire, then painted it a deep brownish purple for the show. Then we used available wood to make a long dining table and painted it + the chairs black. On a quick break, I found another piano that was even more out of tune than the last one... almost an entire half step flat! We went up to the catwalk to carry some lights down, and then finally hung up the scrim on the rope system. (Like a huge curtain) Also since I had run and fly training in high school, I volunteered as a tech for all the rehearsals and shows for Addams Family. Now I get to see it for free (from stage left) like seven times. Muahahahaha. At home, I got an unexpected service opportunity! A young sister in the ward received a Rubik's Cube for her birthday and accidentally scrambled it. Her mom remembered I used to solve them as a hobby in junior high/high school, so I got to help her fix it! (Luckily I still remember how)

Thursday at UCCAN, I worked on flyers for their social media page; this week they were covering local scholarship opportunities. Most of the time spent working on those is making them flow nicely (be legible, not a design mess) and recreating the logo of whatever place the flyer is about. (Oftentimes the highest res available is a tiny jpeg) I think the one I did this week is pretty solid. Also, my good friend Mandy opened her call to a service mission on Thursday--we're super excited!!

Friday at the Somali Center, barely anyone came for classes, so there was not much we could do. :/ Maybe next week! Though I did get to do some service on Friday--a brother in the ward needed some help reconnecting his Ring doorbell cam and printer to the home network after changing ISPs. I also cleaned up his laptop a bit; gave it a bit of a refresh.

And today, the whole service mission went to Midwest Food Bank to help package huge pallets of Froot [sic] Loops into tiny bags for distribution. (we actually used snow shovels to get the Loops into buckets... efficient yet strange) Had an absolute blast, would love to go there when I end up changing service locations at some point.

Spiritual thought for this week is a music video I edited at social media, The Spirit of God played by Elder Arnold! https://www.facebook.com/tempechandlerservicemission/ (have to scroll down a bit)

All pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/jrnyK1kLGt9iu4dy8

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog

Elder Johnson


I went onstage in front of 300 people. Week 7: August 23 - 27

(Ok, technically for only a few seconds)

Hey, welcome back! (Apologies for being late, but wanted to include something from monday)

This week was absolutely amazing in the service mission!

At the performing arts center, set construction finished up (pics of what we did in the album; mostly self explanatory) and the show (Addams Family) had its tech rehearsals with the full cast and crew, and all the public performances. I volunteered to help with all of that, and was accepted for the run and fly position! (Pulling stuff up and down on pulleys, for those unfamiliar. The big rope system that makes the building have to be as tall as it is. I got a video of what I was up to specifically, in the album) As it turns out, my help was also needed on the other side of the stage to move stuff on and off during the second act. During the very last scene, Fester (minor spoilers) takes a jetpack to the moon. We emulated flying by having him lay forwards on a cart and getting three people push it across the stage. I didn't get the memo that we were only supposed to give the cart a push--rather than following through--so during rehearsal I dutifully ran all the way across the stage. (Bonus video of this in an actual performance in the album) Apparently this made everyone in the booth absolutely lose it with laughter, and afterwards the director specifically requested for us to keep that in. So hey, now I've made my debut!

Performances were great, but had their own challenges. Specifically, the midstage curtain failed twice in the middle of shows. The first we were able to fix it, but for the second we had to use the scrim as an alternative. Gotta think quick on your feet! And really that's about it for this (last) week, other than some building cleanup and maintenance.

Spiritual thought from our social media team, a clip out of the That Made Me Smile podcast (4:42) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxji93eIAvk

Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/g8P1Bu25sryZr8fA9 (check out the video that's 1:45 long, took some effort to set up) :P

Email Archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog

Best,

Elder Johnson


Set deconstruction + more IT/graphic design work. Week 8: August 3 - Sept 3

Hey folks!

Last week was pretty cool; Monday was the final showing of Addams Family, so there wasn't much going on--minus some general building cleaning tasks.

Tuesday, we had all missionary hands on deck for striking the set. (Got some pics of the before/after in the album.) It took two weeks to make the thing, but only a day to take it down. Go figure!

Wednesday, staff at the Performing Arts Center needed to make copies of the next show's script, but the script book was printed in an odd non-standard size. Took some fiddling around with the settings, but I eventually got it. (this is a bit of an understatement, it took like 2 hours... long story) Then I did some more designs for marquee slides. Will probably have those in next week's email.

Thursday was my last day at UCCAN--they're a super cool organization, but they just don't have enough work to do for full time service missionaries. But I'll remain available over email for IT consultancy.

Friday, I went to Sister Wright's live endowment! That was super cool, it's great to have her joining our service mission.

And that's about all for the week, thanks for reading!

Spiritual thought: Lightbulb Moments with Lund -- The Watchman on the Tower https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV5GadOghVU

Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/g2hvJJVMk6ZWVWJA7

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog

Elder Johnson


Fun with label printers! Week 9: September 6 - 10

Hey all!

Apologies for being late, I'll try to get these back to Saturdays.

This week at the Performing Arts Center was quite possibly the most difficult I've had so far, but also some of the most fun. We have just a few weeks to organize the pit (where the orchestra is, but the PAC uses it for storage most of the time) We basically had to empty out the entire thing of props and costumes, then we're going to organize everything and put it back. There's years and years worth of stuff in there so there's a lot, but things are moving along smoothly. I also worked on some more slides for the outdoor marquees, I've put them in the photo album. (They're low resolution to match the actual screens they're being shown on) And finally, we took the printed off scripts for Shrek Jr, put them in folders, then labeled everything with the label printer. (We also may or may not have gotten slightly carried away with the label printer; those things are kinda fun)

Thursday, I did phone surveys to ask people who attended the Service Missionary Training Center for feedback on the class.

Friday, I spent a few hours teaching English to a lady that showed up for English class! (Woo, finally something to do)

And that's about it, thanks for reading!

Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/mhZEUqiHGJdEJcWP6

Spiritual thought: (more lightbulb moments) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApEMz0DDrdc

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog



I played the piano in front of a hundred people. Week 10: September 13 - 19

Hi folks!

Ehhh late again, I know. But there were some cool service mission activities over the weekend, so it's worth it!

On Monday at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center, all the effort went into making variations on the pre-existing marquee slides. The director Molly wanted some new ones, so I went ham. Got a bunch you can see in the photo album. (a reminder that they're supposed to be low resolution, to match the actual signs they'll be shown on)

For Tuesday and Wednesday, full focus was on getting everything we took out of the orchestra pit back in, but more organized. We're going to have to index everything eventually...can't wait for that nightmare haha.

Thursday at IGOAL, the Steadmans (mission leaders) needed a demo to show off their idea of a searchable database with all the service locations and their characteristics. (actual location, website, organization, tags, etc.) so I was able to prop up something using cool open source software. You can see it at https://www.themissionaryteachingnetwork.com/locations, it's behind "search by interest." I think this is not even close to the final look (it'll be more like a blog) but we'll see.

Friday at Somali Center, I was able to assist a lady continue with typing class. She's making great progress!

Saturday we did a service project as a whole service mission: yard work at a safehouse for child victims of human trafficking. Really great organization.

Sunday, I played How Great the Wisdom and the Love arranged by Paul Cardall in a Tempe, AZ ward sacrament meeting. Still haven't gotten over my stage fright (woohoo) but I think the practice paid off nicely.

And that's about it, thanks for reading!

Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/8tSubAvwmxBAzUUt8

Thought: (How Great the Wisdom and the Love arr. Paul Cardall) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZuVLyqdPhU

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog

Elder Johnson



I did a teeny bit of animation. Week 11: September 20 - 24

Hi all! (hey, I'm on time!)

I liked this week, it was a nice blend of computer work and physical work.

For PAC, at first it was more marquees (surprise!) but this time I had to adapt my work to a wider screen, (building vs street) while keeping the design consistent. I find it to be surprisingly difficult, but a fun challenge! It's nice that the low resolution easily disguises tiny mistakes--there's a bit of give and take.

We also began the first stages of pit organization (now that everything's back down there finally) and took pictures inside the storage container outside so we could start keeping track of everything. (much to do!)

On Wednesday I was tasked with disinfecting the auditorium, but it turned out that we were completely out of the stuff they spray to do that. Maybe it'll happen next week.

And finally, we set up chairs for the orchestra. (cool diagram Sister Critchfield drew in the album; luckily she's experienced with orchestra stuff, otherwise I would have had no idea what I was doing)

Thursday for IGOAL, I took the logo they designed for the Service Missionary Training Center and made a neat little "animation" out of it for use in social media content. (Also in the album. Hey, at least it's something!)

Friday at the Somali Center, I did more typing lessons with a lady that came in. She passed the beginner's course!

And that's all, thanks for reading!

Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/GqM4BVnG17QQoKfK6

Thought: (From comp study this week) https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2012/04/the-merciful-obtain-mercy?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog



Mobile Video Editing Workstation. Week 12: September 27 - October 1

Hi all!

This week was more of the same, but still lots of great work to be done!

PAC marquees, sanitation, and pit organization--as you do. Though I think we're going to be starting construction on the Shrek Jr. set soon, so that should bring some new challenges. (Fingers crossed)


For IGOAL and Social Media this week, I was a video editing powerhouse. Brought one of my smaller monitors around with me (+ the laptop) to social media meetings and got a ton of work done. Feels great! I was also recruited to help film a few things this week, namely a Service MTC intro and an SMTC instructor's training that was an hour-long multicam sequence where the main camera kept stopping, hence a bunch of sync issues. Lovely.


Also recorded and mixed a cover of Did You Think to Pray? played and sang by Sister Wright! Really cool to bust out the microphone for a service mission activity.


Friday at Somali Center was more typing lessons; it's still not all that busy around there on Friday mornings, so I hope more people start taking classes soon.


I think that wraps things up, thanks for reading!


Pics: (not that much to show but, a couple nice ones) https://photos.app.goo.gl/CbPLFBnjvBxvAfUK9

Thought: (Did You Think to Pray? all by Sister Wright. I tried to make it sound really nice if you use headphones) https://youtu.be/LwwlZ8MruAg

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson




My temple lights up blue! Week 13: October 4 - 8

Hi all!

The first full week of October and there's signs of it starting to get chilly around here... (60, brrr!)


On Monday I had to abandon the PAC in favor of IGOAL, where I was needed at the McQueen building in order to film the second hour-long SMTC instructor training class. Since I like to get fancy and have three camera angles to choose from, that makes editing exponentially more difficult. But it's still quite fun! Our mission also attended the Mesa Temple open house to see how it looks after the complete remodeling. (Quite beautiful, if not a little cramped compared to the Gilbert temple)


Tuesday I also had to ditch the PAC in favor of IGOAL; I was needed since we were having a visitor from Salt Lake at the office. (I also had a ton of editing work to do) The whole team rehearsed the general layout of the meeting, and overall I think it went quite well!


Wednesday for PAC it was more pit, and I also accidentally broke a doorstop then fixed it with not a soul the wiser. (though judging based on the other holes in that door, I think it wasn't really my fault haha) My RGB light strips arrived in the mail on the same day, so now my 3D printed glow-in-the-dark scale model Gilbert Temple can light up any color. It's so bright that I'd might as well be adding a fourth lamp to my room... I think that's an appropriate metaphor.


Thursday for IGOAL I spent the entire time slot teaching an Elder how to edit videos in Premiere via video chat and a remote desktop connection. Even though I'm a completely self-taught amateur and still have a long way to go skill-wise, it's still surprisingly difficult to serialize what knowledge I do have for someone who's just starting out.


Friday at Somali Center, I ran through the practice US citizenship test with a lady that came in, and she absolutely smashed it. The entire packet! It brightened my day considerably to see that, I know she'll do great on the real deal.


And that's this (last) week, thanks for reading!


Thought: God Among Us (April General Conference) https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/04/12uchtdorf?lang=eng

Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/j6aZcJH5sQ5Gx2VB8

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson

Mobile video editing workstation gets even crazier. Week 14: October 11-15

Hi all!

Last week was pretty great! I'll break it down:


On Monday, I helped film some dance instruction videos for the PAC, and did another multicam filming session for the SMTC Instructor's Course. (Lots of camera work, basically)

Then we had an ultimate frisbee/kickball activity with another Service Mission.


Tuesday and Wednesday was more lovely pit work at the PAC, taking all the props out of the hallways and moving them to the closets. I also made a "Happy Halloween" slide for the marquee.


Thursday for IGOAL, I brought all my monitors with me to finish editing the SMTC instructor course for the week. (Takes around 10 minutes to set up/take down all of that equipment) We also had handbell practice after the daily social media meeting; we're going to perform for the upcoming Christmas concert.


And Friday at the Somali Center, I taught citizenship to a lovely gentleman who's still learning English but doing an incredible job at it!


That about wraps it up, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/CKCsrzQ4cSWdbT6P6

Thought:

2 Nephi 4 18- 20


"18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep."


Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson



Visited by a member of the 12. Week 15: October 18-22

Hi all!

Pretty neat week, let's jump into it!


Sunday, the mission went to a devotional where Elder Ulisses Soares was the main speaker, and we got to sit just a few rows back in a building with thousands of seats!


Mon Tue and Wed at the PAC, we carried some more things down to the pit, assembled some large metal shelves, tried to diagnose some faulty lights, and I animated some new marquee slides for holidays and upcoming events. You can see them in the album, but for some reason with the low native resolution Google Photos absolutely demolishes the bitrate, so you'll have to download to get the "full experience." (Still not great, but they're made for the screen they get displayed on. Looks nice and crispy out on the road, I promise.)


Thursday at IGOAL we had some important meetings about our upcoming video content strategy (we have a few ambitious projects that could be distributed worldwide to all service missions if done right) And I've been accused of not taking any pictures of myself for the mission (fair criticism; I just don't particularly enjoy it), so I took a begrudging selfie that actually turned out horribly embarrassing... so I'm sorry you have to look at that, haha.

Bonus: on the drive back I saw a single-letter vanity license plate: "C." Outstanding job, whoever you are that managed to grab that.


Friday I taught more citizenship at Somali Center to an awesome lady who absolutely rocked the 100 questions section. Though I think some of it was sheer brute-force syllable memorization, but hey you've gotta do what you gotta do!

Talking to non-native English speakers has sort of opened up a new perspective for me--like when they practice writing they make some mistakes that are totally obvious in hindsight, but I would never think of in a thousand years if you asked me what people learning English would mix up. Guess I don't have any specific examples, but it's just super cool to have the opportunity to help them learn.


Saturday we volunteered at a service project sanctioned by the city of Chandler, doing yard work and painting a couple's house to look pretty nice afterwards!


And that about wraps it up for the week, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/PG7EFLYcFG9tBbLx8

Thought (from comp study this week): The Character of Christ, Bednar 2003

Email archive and signup: JJRicks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson



Smashing wood scraps is fun. Week 16: October 25-30

Hi all!

Had a fun week, let's jump into it.


Monday at PAC, I did more marquee slide designs (there's a surprising amount to be done).

Tuesday we got everyone together to smash some old wood scraps and put them in the dumpster, and I did more slides.

Wednesday was more slides. (Leading up to the November marquee overhaul; almost everything was going to be new)

Thursday at IGOAL we planned some film shoots for the next few weeks.

And Friday at Somali Center, I helped assemble some resource binders for teaching English.

Friday evening we also had a mission halloween party, so that was pretty sweet! (And as a bonus picture in the album, here's what the halloween decorations looked like at our house this year. My mom's a master decorator!)

Finally on Saturday, I volunteered at a halloween party being thrown for refugees. There were so many cool people there, it was great! Unfortunately I couldn't really take pictures of the other folks (confidentiality and all) but I did get one selfie with a nice hat.


And that's about it, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UZ4a1ghZBgZp4W4XA

Thought: (from comp study this week) https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/10/16gilbert?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson



Stage manager duties in full swing! Week 17: November 1 - 5

Hi all!

This week at the PAC I was super focused on doing well at the stage manager position I accepted a while back. Specifically working the projection system and timing the actors' lines with the background. Not going to bore you with details, but there's a surprising amount to it!

We also organized the pit a bit more. (Bonus pic, all the styrofoam heads with wigs on them down there)

I also did a few filming projects this week, with Elder Egg's mom, Brother Lund Johnson (remember lightbulb moments with Lund? Yeah that guy!) and Elder Arnold.

At Social Media on Friday we did painting and followed along with the legend himself Bob Ross. At the end I made more of a Jackson Pollock... oh well.

And then they cancelled the Christmas concert. :( Not sure if I talked about that in earlier emails, but it was going to be at the PAC and have an audience of hopefully 700ish. I sank maybe 150 hours into learning North Pole Express by Jon Schmidt on the piano just for that, so.... Can still make the music video I guess.

Ah, don't want to end on a downer, so I put my halloween costume in the album for ya! (Intel silicon fabrication plant worker, my job before the mission)

And that's about all!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/B7kXLfuYroDYwyKN8

Thought: Trust in the Lord, Richard G Scott (1995) https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1995/10/trust-in-the-lord

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


All the best,

Elder Johnson



I made my first ever Facebook post. Week 18: November 8-12

Hi all!

This (last) week at the PAC, I did stage managing for Shrek Jr, did a marquee slide to promote the center's social media pages (it didn't end up being used--maybe someday) and made my first ever facebook post! (on the PAC's account, we're starting to do their social media.)

At IGOAL we filmed some more Lightbulb Moments videos, expect to see those eventually.

And on Friday at the Somali Center, I helped with typing lessons!

That's about it, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/bEt4LYVr2sYrRsMn9

Thought:

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson



Showtime! Week 19: November 15-19

Hi all!

Sorry for being late! It's been a crazy week :D

On Monday, we sanitized costumes at the PAC, and I did some more graphic design stuff.

Basically I was at rehearsals and running shows the whole week, so not much to report from that--but it was super fun! Back to usual activities now. Happy Thanksgiving!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/KPVpgCfvogbHmbPK6

Thought: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2009/10/safety-for-the-soul

Email archive and list signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson






The show wraps + lots of new shows. Week 20: November 22 - 26

Hi all!

This week we wrapped on Shrek Jr, and I worked on some more graphic design for upcoming shows. (Weird tangent, I'm 99.99% sure there's a Close Encounters reference in Shrek Jr. the Musical, but nobody else seems to have noticed it; online or otherwise. Took a picture of the sheet music for your inspection)

I also sorted a bunch of new candy into the concessions booth, and used some camera scanning magic to try and find the model number of a part that needs to be replaced in the PAC's AV cabinet.

On Friday I was geared up and ready to teach computer class, but sadly there was nobody at

Somali Center. I did stick around for a little bit, just in case.

And finally, I'm getting ready to film my Christmas music video next week! Keep an eye out for that


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/9gGJt8dzy45QjPbb8

Thought: (My elder's quorum lesson for this week, which was mostly just the talk--but with some of my own discussion questions) https://docs.google.com/document/d/18QfD_BYBc6c_d7k-Vzw0Vpj0L_F1YjXz3v5VD3RmHPk/edit?usp=sharing

Email archive and list signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best,

Elder Johnson




Spin the wheel of Christmas fun! Week 21: November 29 - December 3

Hi all!

Last week at the PAC we moved some bulky objects around backstage, set up for some events, I did some more graphic design, and we sawed a bunch of old wood scraps in half so they would fit in the dumpster. On Wednesday, Sister Critchfield and I worked on replacing the halloween-prize wheel inserts with Christmas themed ones. (took some careful photoshopping)

I also volunteered to scan tickets at the door for two PAC events, and I got the audio recording done for my music video. (Editing is in progress--I think this is going to be super fun!)


On Thursday I got some more editing done, and on Friday at Somali Center I helped a girl who fled from Afghanistan write a short biography, so she could submit her watercolor paintings and pencil sketches to an art show. (They're super good!) I also helped a gentleman who's learning English print out papers to get ready for a doctor visit, and start papers to get his children citizenship.


On Saturday, I helped run the Zoom meeting at a piano recital, and also did one performance of North Pole Express.


And finally on Sunday, we got the video recorded for North Pole Express.


Thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/cuDXiAZAi9N5Xkgv8

Thought: (From comp study this week) https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/10/25kopischke?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson



I released a music video! (Two of them, technically) Week 22: December 6 - 10

Hi all!

On Monday, we did quite a bit!

When we came in that morning, someone had spilled chemicals all over a card table and the floor in the booth, so we took care of that. Then we took the band shell out of the shipping container on the back lot, and set it all up on the stage. Then we set up the floor cycs (lights). And finally, we retaped the fabric covers on the doors. (the ones that make things look festive)


On Tuesday and Wednesday after service I edited my Christmas music video, then released it on Thursday after IGOAL. Here it is, (for those who haven't seen already) hope you enjoy! https://youtu.be/eiJ5yzCidnc


Then on Friday at Somali Center, we worked on upping the game with the computer literacy curriculum, to make it more worth people's time. The language barrier is quite an interesting challenge for me, but a really neat experience.


That's all, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/qNHRbgjQJYxodqnU6

Thought: (sort of a strange/cool one, but this is a gospel rap video. I was behind the camera for most shots and edited) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtZGzfGdB0k

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog



Christmas concert! Week 23: December 12 - 18

Hi all!

Super great week to tell you about.

On Sunday, Sister Wright and I performed our piano/vocal piece Mary Did You Know at a few different wards.

On Monday at the performing arts center, we were doing our usual cleaning/setup tasks when a bird of prey got into the back hall and flew around back and forth for a few minutes. Utter chaos, it was hilarious! It also left the remains of what I think was a pigeon on the ground. RIP little buddy. :/

And that night, we held the long awaited Oh, Holy Night TCSM Christmas concert! It went really well--I got to participate in a choir, piano solo piece, and piano accompaniment. Lots to do! Thankfully all the musical hubbub seems to be mostly passed for the year.


On Tuesday the PAC threw a lunch for us service missionaries--we were super grateful!

Then on Wednesday, I sanitized the whole theater with the motorized sprayer.


On Thursday at IGOAL I finished up another Lightbulb Moments with Lund Video, it's very short but worth your time! (linked below) I also got my booster.


On Friday I felt under the weather from the booster, and didn't want to risk harming any of the refugees, so I couldn't participate at the Somali Center that week--but I did continue work on my arrangement of In Humility, Our Savior. When finished it's going to be my first ever piano composition! (sorta) Hopefully to be played as a special musical number at ward visits.


On Saturday, I participated at a service project in Phoenix where we helped unload trucks full of furniture for those in need, and sort it at an office building previously owned by ADOT. So naturally being an office building owned by a department of transportation, there were some pretty interesting or hilarious things hung up on the walls/doors. (To be found in the pics)


And that's about all, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/gjRi8piMCBp4uEB47

Thought: Far Far Away On Judea's Plains - Light Bulb Moments With Lund https://youtu.be/Ps77vbvyg8o

Email archive and list signup: https://jjricks.com/


Elder Johnson



Merry Christmas! Week 24: December 20 - 26

Hi all! Merry Christmas and happy New Year!


Last week since the PAC was closed, I decided to mix it up a bit with the service locations.

On Monday, I went to the temple grounds to do some landscaping.

On Tuesday, Elder Tucker, our friend Ben and I made a greeting party for my friend flying in from New Jersey.

On Wednesday I went to 7th Street Food Pantry and outreach to help them load cars with foot kits. Quite a few people showed up that morning!

On Thursday I tried to go to Gathering Humanity (setting up apartments for refugees) but they were closed for Christmas weekend. So instead I spent the day editing a little promo that some of the service missionaries and I shot for the giving machines. (It's the spiritual thought if you'd like to watch--I really like it)

On Friday, the family made donuts and distributed them to nearby friends/ward members.

Christmas was spent with family.

Then on Sunday evening, we + some other service missionaries, friends, and ward members went to East Valley Men's Center to serve food for dinner. It was a blast!


Think that's about all, Merry Christmas, happy New Year, and thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/GMRqpCW2Tk4LnVQS6

Thought: https://youtu.be/1ppR5ut4E_0

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best,

Elder Johnson



We set up an apartment for a refugee family. Week 25: December 27 - 31

Hi all!

Last week I spent all my time at Gathering Humanity locations (they set up housing for refugees) , with a few fellow missionaries.

First, we spent a day at the warehouse sorting through incoming donations and putting them in the proper place on shelves and in boxes. We also somehow managed to fit a ludicrous amount of boxes into the back of a car. (Not sure where they were going, but I know it was service related)


Then later in the week, we went to an apartment to set things up for an Afghan family. It was an incredible few hours. Wishing them the best!


Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/SuuxsDJDSoFm7JP89

Thought: (President Nelson's Christmas message) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULMypzP7o6M

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best,

Elder Johnson



I didn't cry the day I took the tree down, but the amount of trees I had to take down made me want to. (haha) Week 26: January 2 - 7 (2022)

Hi all!

Lovely week, and I'm actually writing this on time for once. (Woo!)


At my house on Sunday we took down the trees and other decorations. Then at the PAC the very next day, we took down all the various Christmas trees and decorations... It was a lot to deal with! haha

The PAC's 12 foot trees came in a comically small bag that could only have been originally packed by a machine. Reminds me of camping as a boy scout, trying to get the tent into a tiny bag with freezing cold hands... good times.

All week at the PAC, I also did quite a bit of motion graphic design for the outdoor marquees! The PAC's got a few new shows coming up, always fun to help out with the promotion of them. There's a certain art to making something legible and good looking at such a limited resolution--think my practice is starting to pay off. :D


On Tuesday my mission leaders got a new computer for Service Mission admin stuff, and I got to help choose which one they got--and set it up with all the needed software/tools. Computers are a favorite hobby of mine, so it was an absolute blast! I might have gone a little overboard on the hardware, (and I kind of... invited myself over to help... oops) but it will be really really really future proof. (in my defense, it was kind of the only good consumer PC I could find within about an hour (for people who also like computers: Ryzen 5 5600g/3060/16GB DDR4 @ 3200 and 1TB SSD. Plus Elder Steadman added a 240hz 27" LCD as a surprise) at a decent-ish price/performance ratio within 100 miles that was still in stock at a moment's notice. The computer it was replacing was on the verge of biting the dust, so it was urgent)


On Friday, I had the pleasure of helping set up another apartment for Afghan refugees with Gathering Humanity! (Might make them a new permanent service location.) I was delegated to the bathroom, so most of the pics are from there. Previously I've been accused of not taking enough selfies (sorry mom), so now there's plenty to go around in the album. ;)

Then directly after, my mom and I went to the Gilbert Temple for some initiatories.


That's all for this week, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/THpjwDGheQu4CdHj7

Thought: from companion studies: Let Virtue Garnish Your Thoughts, H. David Burton, 2009 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2009/10/let-virtue-garnish-your-thoughts?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson

I'm making a TV show! Week 27: January 10 - 14

Hi all!

Last week was quite great!

At the PAC, I've been put in charge of shopping for a night vision system to be put in the booth, so we can see the stage transitions during total blackouts. It's a super cool project and I'm excited to be working on it! Involves research into some interesting new topics and contacting a bunch of knowledgeable people.

We also set up the stage for a spelling bee, and I did a ton of miscellaneous chores around the place. (using the magnet on wheels to clean up the whole dock area and dressing rooms of metal, sweeping, trashes, etc)

At IGOAL on Thursday, I finished 17 (yes, 17!) videos for the Adjusting to Service Missionary Life resources program. (ok I kind of cheated, it was one big long recording session and I just chopped it up into tiny bits. Some weeks ago we got a registered nurse (Elder Egg's mom) in to talk about best practices for physical resilience on the mission.)

For social media that night, we did an activity based on the TV show Chopped. I brought my camera and had some fun with it! I recommend watching the trailer I made, it's in the album. Planning to make the full episode.

Then on Friday, the elders went to lunch to welcome a new missionary, and my mom and I did a huge sealings session at the Gilbert Temple. Plenty of names got done! It's always a great feeling going to the temple, I'm so thankful to live very close to one.


That's all, thanks for reading!


Photos/awesome TV trailer: https://photos.app.goo.gl/yJoF6yR2vUQWVy1SA

Thought: Trust in the Lord - Richard G Scott https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1995/10/trust-in-the-lord?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best,

Elder Johnson


Seminary mentoring... oh boy. Week 28: January 17 - 21

Hi all!

Never sent an email later than wednesday, so let's not break that now--haha.

On monday morning I went to the Gilbert temple to help film segments for an upcoming music video by Elder Arnold. Then that evening we had a lovely zone activity at Elder Tendick's house with board games and smores. Completely lost my Michigan training--I was freezing cold with a jacket when it was 60 out! Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Tuesday I did a bunch of housekeeping at the PAC, and later my mom, sister Abbie, Elder Tendick, and I went to serve hotdogs and hamburgers to the homeless in Phoenix. It was a blast!

Wednesday at the PAC I did some more housekeeping and marquee design, plus got the parts for the stage night vision system finally ordered. (as I write this, everything may or may night be already set up, but spoilers!)

On thursday I helped Elder Tucker and family get a recliner from Costco, set it up, and donate the old one to goodwill.

Then on Friday, I did my first bit of seminary mentoring! It's not teaching, and not being a buddy, it's mentoring--somewhere in the middle there. It was absolutely exhausting, but well worth it. (in a sense, like the already nailbiting experience of leading an elders quorum lesson--except it goes on 6 times as long, has less people (so less chance someone has the answer to a question), most of the participants don't want to be there, and it's every single week. So much respect to seminary teachers. :P We'll see how this goes the rest of the semester) Got to meet plenty of cool kids!


That's all from me, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/FYTtZN6Az5WbxFK47

Thought: (From companion study this week. This talk is an absolute gut punch, but just incredible.

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/jeffrey-r-holland/a-saint-through-the-atonement-of-christ-the-lord/

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best,

Elder Johnson



Night vision success! ...maybe? Week 29: January 23 - 28

Hey all!

Welcome back to another email, let's get into the meat and potatoes.

On Sunday, we had an SMTC devotional with Tad R. Callister as the keynote speaker! Really incredible guy, gave a great talk on the history and truth of the Book of Mormon.


Monday at the PAC, I did some tech support for the director, sorted all the sheet music from songs for the upcoming show Moana Jr into folders (they printed off thousands of pages), and sorted various things.

Tuesday we put away the choir risers, (which somehow required a huge reorganization of the stage accessories shipping container) mopped the stage, and I went to pick up the camera for my stage night vision system I was going to install the following day. (I've been invited to stage manage shows at the performing arts center again, and this will help us time scene transitions without resorting to blind luck) Also turns out social media was canceled for that day, so a bunch of us that didn't get the memo and showed up anyway did a little group scripture study on the lawn next to the church building. Lovely!

Wednesday, I absolutely busted my behind installing the stage night vision system for five and a half hours straight. Holy moly that was tough. SO much went wrong, I thought it would never work. (could go paragraphs into detail, but I'll spare you) In the end I was kinda dirty and sweaty, but everything was installed successfully. And then I promptly didn't get to test it, because the cleaners came in and they needed the lights to be on. Aaaaaa dang, so close! So I'm waiting until monday. :P

On thursday at IGOAL, we shot a social media piece hosted by Elder Tucker, and later that evening we had a mission activity around a campfire where some fun shenanigans went on.


Friday's seminary mentoring was much better! I actually came prepared to take notes. (Name, goals, brief physical appearance to help me remember names) I had a great time getting to know the kids, and they seemed more enthused this week. Didn't think I was going to say this in the beginning, but looking forward to more!


That about wraps things up, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/4qnznjgzLwa9U8je7

Thought: From study in the grass, Moses 7:18 "And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them."

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


All the best,

Elder Johnson

Lights, camera, gaff tape! Week 30: January 31 - February 5

Hi all,

This week was great!

Monday Tuesday and Wednesday, I tested the night vision system to see if I installed it correctly, (I think I did, it works great. Can't wait to use it in a real show!) three of us mopped the whole seating area of the PAC, I did more marquee designs, and then things got a little chaotic.

Wednesday, the high school threw a signing party, and they wanted us to set up everything. They brought one of those big logo banners you pose in front of, but no frame or stand for it. So we had to use the PAC's (which was the wrong size) and jerry-rig it fast with some gaff tape.

Tuesday the mission played 007 in a neighborhood I basically grew up next to, so I had a bit of navigational advantage there. :P (Elder Newton and I took first place)

On Wednesday, Sister Wright taught us how to make cookies for the social media skills lab--they turned out incredibly delicious!

Then Thursday, I went to the Gilbert Temple for some initiatories, and we did a bit of filming for social media, the How Do I... series. Very happy I'm still able to participate in my hobbies for a good cause on the mission!

Friday seminary mentoring was an absolute riot; one hour it's a bunch of jock dudes that ignore you and have earbuds in, and the next hour you have an amazing discussion where everyone is into it. Not being able to keep everyone's attention makes me want to quit sometimes, but there's a sister in our mission who has way way WAY worse social anxiety than I do and she seems to be handling classes just fine, so I know I just need to suck it up essentially. Can't progress without doing hard things.

Saturday, Elder Tucker arranged an awesome nature walk for the mission. Had a blast!


That's all, thanks for making it to the end!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ivdQag3wB23mjJrk6

Thought: From the devotional we watched today, The Character of Christ by David A. Bednar. (I sent this one for Week 15, but it's worth taking another look at) https://www2.byui.edu/presentations/transcripts/religionsymposium/2003_01_25_Bednar.htm

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-list


Best,

Elder Johnson

Music video! Week 31: Feb 7 - 11

Hi all! Let's get into the week.

On Monday we set up for a spelling bee on the stage, so I got to set up microphones and make sure everything worked properly. Also did some laundry in the back shop. Later that day, Sister Wright and I worked on recording a music video for the North America Southwest Missionary conference that was coming up on Saturday. I also continued work on the Sliced TV episode (missionary cupcake baking competition video)

Tuesday the spelling bee was happening, so in order to not disturb the people there we worked in the loading dock organizing things. Eventually we gave up when someone accidentally hit a nest of baby spiders. (haha that was crazy)

Wednesday nothing was happening, so I continued practicing my special musical number for the upcoming Sunday.

Thursday my mom and I went to the Gilbert Temple and did some sealing ordinances.

And Friday for seminary mentoring was yet again exhausting but great; think I'm warming up to the position. Still quite a bit to handle though. ;)


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/GkWi36DVRmg9UMEV9

Thought: A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief (music video made by me and Sister Wright) https://youtu.be/1XrhawOyYzs

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best,

Elder Johnson

The highest tech restaurant I've ever seen. Week 32: Feb 14 - 18

Hey all!

Great week,

Monday at the PAC, a Josten's (sorry but ....ew) representative came in to give the standard 'buy a class ring' presentation to a few hundred high school students. She came in an hour late, which left only a few minutes to set up her laptop with the PAC's audio/visual stuff. Of course the HDMI connection didn't work, so suddenly it was my problem because I'm the "tech guy." :P Classic. (something something your lack of preparation is not my emergency something something) Acting on instinct I just swapped a few cables around up in the projector booth, and it was fine. Except the aspect ratio was squashed a bit... can't have it perfect every time! Haha


For Tuesday we had a good few things to do, but mainly laying marley (laying down a huge dance mat on stage and taping it down, that takes a while) and as a bonus Elder Tucker got to move the indoor cherry picker lift from stage right into the shop. (in a somewhat humorous manner, of course) Also a bunch of the Elders went out for sushi that night (I tagged along) at a restaurant that could only be described as a masterclass in clever software engineering. The entire dining experience is controlled through a tablet above the table, and there's some super cool interactive stuff that happens throughout the meal. No wonder there was a waitlist to get in!


Wednesday at the PAC mostly nothing was happening for a few hours, so I spent the time practicing the piano. Then in the last hour, some people started filing in and, surprise! There was a high school variety show they needed to get ready for. So I stayed for an extra hour and a half past when I usually would to help out, which leads me to something a bit unfortunate.


I've never really mentioned it in these emails but, as much as I enjoy the work around the PAC (especially when things are a bit intense, like at shows--it's so much fun!) the director Molly is sometimes... a force to be reckoned with. I won't go too much into it, but when she enters what we've colloquially dubbed 'production mode' it's almost impossible to keep her happy. One has to guess what she wants next based solely on vague and contradictory information. (and working around her for a few months, I've gotten a little better at it) The can of verbal smackdown she opens on you if you accidentally get it wrong is... really something special. I even get blamed when things go wrong that clearly I had nothing to do with. (the intercom stopped working, and I was in the line of fire because I moved one of its headsets across the desk. Didn't even get so much as an apology after someone else proved that actually the power supply blew out) Even got told to "stop trying to be helpful" when I got a setting on the slideshow wrong by accident during the first rehearsal. (like, what else am I supposed to do?? That's why I'm here!) At this point, her whole facility wouldn't run smoothly without us service missionaries, so I'm quite puzzled as to why and how she rationalizes being this way. Taking the 'beggars can't be choosers' thing and flipping it on its head. Then also telling us how important we are to her when everything's calmed down. Switching back and forth between the two extremes on a whim.


Frustrating as this may be, I wear the missionary tag and I accepted the call to be a representative of Jesus Christ at all times. Just giving up or worse--fighting back--wouldn't be appropriate responses. (no matter how tempting or how red my face gets) I believe that in the process of dealing with this, I'm learning valuable lessons about patience and kindness in even the most infuriating of situations--skills I know I'll be grateful for in the future. Maybe I could even help her improve through my actions if I handle things right. Maybe that's why I was placed here...


Anyway, I'm picking up the Gathering Humanity service location on thursdays! As a refresher, their organization has a warehouse full of household supplies/necessities that they give to refugee families settling in the Phoenix area. I've had the pleasure to be a part of two apartment setups so far; it's a really incredible experience. However, that's all going down next (this?) week, so on Thursday I actually did initiatories at the Gilbert Temple and planted some cucumbers in the garden.


Friday's mentoring was cool yet exhausting as always... I think I already said this, but I still regret every single time I didn't pay attention in seminary. :P (Both my seminary teachers from my brief stint in Michigan are on this email list, hi by the way)


And that about wraps it up!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/rnrNHcaCg46SRXpe8

Thought: Infuriating Unfairness (Dale G. Renlund, April 2021) https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/04/25renlund?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Have a good week,

Elder Johnson

A lost wallet, and a free computer! Week 33: Feb 21 - 26

Hi all!

So much happened this week, I can't believe it!

On Tuesday at the PAC (Monday was a holiday so they were closed), Melissa (full time employee there) found a lost wallet and passed it on to me. (I do like a good challenge) There was only a credit card and two gift cards, so not all that much to work with. However there was also an airtag tracker, which means the owner of the wallet knew where it was... theoretically at least. Fun fact: airtags are NFC enabled, so you can scan the back of them (tap your phone) to get the owner's information. Buuut... only if it's in 'lost mode' which I guess has to be enabled manually. So I could only see the last four digits of the guy's phone number and the tag's serial number. Spent a few hours trying to get through to Apple and the credit union, but none of them could help me contact the guy, or even contact him on my behalf. The credit union suggested dropping it off at a branch, which I ended up doing later. Hope the guy got his wallet back!


Meanwhile, I was also helping set up the stage for an orchestra activity taking place the following day, and doing a few marquee tweaks. Later that evening, we had the first TCSM choir practice and I was the piano guy.


On Wednesday, I spent a few hours at the PAC, then headed over to the McQueen building to help film things for IGOAL for future mission social media content.


Thurday I did an apartment setup with Gathering Humanity (always the best feeling helping with those. There's a 360 picture in the album if you'd like to see a full look-around the apartment)


Then on Friday we did two apartment setups! That was a lot to handle, but we rocked it. Really hoping those families are able to settle in easily and are doing alright!


For Saturday, the mission went over and spent the afternoon helping a family move. We packed up the whole garage into a Uhaul, then unloaded it 35 mins away. I take an interest in computers, and I was talking shop with the dad about the one I was about to load up in the truck. He said he didn't use it anymore and that I could have it!! ("if you don't take it, it will just spend the next ten years in my closet") Since it's not really a 'super performance beast' (hey, not complaining) and we kinda need a new family homework computer, I think I might upgrade it a bit and then donate it to the fam.


And that about wraps things up, have a good week!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/akGHvky2WcK6af1N6

Thought: One Percent Better (was reading this, really valuable message)

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/10/54dunn?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson


Furniture unloads and speaker shenanigans. Week 34: Feb 27 - March 4

Greetings all, welcome to a new email!


On Sunday, I drove 40 minutes away to do a musical number--which was actually pretty nice. Although I did notice that their "pipe" organ there is... probably fake? I mean it looks nice, but why even bother?


On Monday I helped troubleshoot some speaker issues on stage (that involved running around and putting my left ear up to the equipment... long story) worked on marquee slides (as you do) and helped tackle printer issues. (The PAC printer is so fancy it can literally fold and staple ("saddle stitch") paper, then spit out a completed playbill. All the while making futuristic UFO machinery noises) We had to hunt down a paper jam, but thankfully the printer is so fancy that it will triage precisely where the jam is for you, then show an instructional video on how to remove it. The main problem was that their Microsoft Publisher printing defaults disappeared after a server outage. Melissa and I reverse engineered the correct settings and set up the defaults on everyone's computers again. Not all that crazy, but I did learn a lot more about the facility's systems and how to troubleshoot them. (...also that high-end printers are absolutely wild. It turns on automatically when you walk up to it. Like whaaa??)


For Tuesday and Wednesday I was full nose-to-the-grindstone on those marquee slides. I only got two of them done for the week, but boy--they take a lot more work than meets the eye. (especially for someone kinda just starting out on this stuff) I should really do sketches and storyboard them out to make this easier on myself (say if Molly doesn't like the design (thankfully rare) I didn't just lose all that work. See also: that social media promo slide from a few months ago), but usually I just get an idea and go for it. I'm very very happy with how these ones turned out. Usually video players don't play nice with low resolution video, (as a reminder, the slides are pixelated to match the actual signs they're shown on. Looks good from a distance and also low resolution covers up a lot of mistakes.) so since I want you to be able to see them "as intended" I did some video trickery (read: screen recorded them out of After Effects) and put that in the album, for your viewing pleasure. (wow that was a lot of parentheses, hope that made any sense)


Thursday I rolled into Gathering Humanity all jazzed up and ready to blast through a few apartment setups, but I got reassigned to warehouse duties and unloading the truck full of furniture. Of course, helping prepare for the apartment setup is just as valuable as actually doing it, buuuuut I would be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little bit disappointed. (haha) As an aside, it's a little bit hard to focus at the Gathering Humanity warehouse--speaking as a longtime enthusiast of large industrial machines. Of particular note was the garbage truck unloading dumpsters, the constant roar of passenger jets from Sky Harbor International, and the railroad tracks within earshot to the east.


On Friday, seminary mentoring went very smoothly. Unfortunately quite a few kids don't show up for class these days, but there were still a decent amount. Really awesome continuing to get to know these kids. One fun thing is that the seminary teacher Brother Seal has an almost perfectly drawn replica of the character Balloony on his office shelf. (From the beloved cult classic show Phineas and Ferb.) Just thought that was kinda funny.


Anyway, that about wraps it up for this week; thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/G47CxV1t9rSCqNP97

Thought: developing resilience under stress, from the adjusting to service missionary life handbook. As titled, this is mostly meant for service missionaries, but I think it has some valuable information for general audiences as well https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/adjusting-to-service-missionary-life-resource-booklet/1-developing-resilience-under-stress?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best and well wishes,

Elder Johnson

A player piano and speaking in stake conference. Week 35: March 6 -12

Hey all!

On Sunday I spoke in stake conference with a four minute testimony (that was how long they told me to make it) that was prepared right there on the stand! Well... sorta. I'd been thinking about what I was going to say for a few weeks prior, so really those notes were just about organizing my thoughts. I guess stage fright is either something that goes away with age, or not having it is a perk of being a missionary that's set apart--cause I had nothing of the sort!


On Monday I... actually have almost no pictures of what I did at the PAC, so I have no idea what was going on. Oops! All I have is a single picture of Melissa and I fixing a folding table with tape.

Though that night we had an FHE at the Scottsdale mission leaders house, and there was some hilarious karaoke! Also they have a piano that plays itself--that was interesting.

On Tuesday I fixed (sort of, just reconfigured a bit) the computer that displays the concessions menu, and worked on importing/labeling the projector slides for the upcoming Moana Jr. I figured out that the computer going to be showing those slides isn't quite up to the task, but ran out of time to investigate. It was also my 21st birthday, so the fam went out for sushi. Fun times!

On Wednesday, I began looking into how we might be able to upgrade the computer and make it work for the show. I think I know what we need to do, but it involves going through IT... we're running out of time, I'm getting a bit nervous haha. Later I went to the IGOAL afternoon session to help film some videos for the mission social media and other programs.

On Thursday at Gathering Humanity, we applied some Tetris tactics to load the back of a truck with three cribs. Also I accidentally revealed that I was 'good at computers' and was subsequently put on relocation to the back room holed up with a laptop. The task: fix their Google Workspace for Nonprofits account that was only half setup several months ago. :P Spent a few hours sifting through thousands of emails, calling customer service hotlines, diving deep into forum posts from 6 years ago, and resenting the existence of outdated support documentation--trying to slash my way through the jungle of robot phone menus and convoluted auto 'support' chats that are incentivized to keep you from talking to human at all costs.

Though at the end of the day, as frustrating as that is, this is for an incredible cause--and if anyone's going to be able to handle it, it's the guy who spent most of his childhood learning this stuff. I'm so so glad I get to serve people in the best way that I know how. :D

Friday's seminary mentoring was the last before the kids' spring break, so even fewer of them showed up unfortunately, but it did go generally very well. (There were also some hilarious whiteboard drawings floating around all day.)

Saturday, I got up in the wee hours of the morning to help pick some citrus with other missionaries for an older lady. She was super cool!


Thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/xYUdwbT6bG2uUf2v7

Thought:

The Savior used a parable to teach the importance of service. In the parable, He told of His return to the earth in His glory and of separating the righteous from the wicked. To the righteous in this parable He says: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:34–36).

The righteous, who are puzzled by this declaration, ask: “Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” (Matthew 25:37–39).

Then the Lord answers, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).

--Gospel topics > service


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Best,

Elder Johnson


I got contacts! Week 36: March 13 - 18

Hi all!

Very eventful week!

On Sunday, I bounced around to different wards doing musical numbers and attending speaking assignments of fellow service missionaries. At our Sunday meeting, Elder Arnold brought back some goodies from France, so that was pretty cool!

On Monday and Tuesday at the PAC, we spent the days organizing the shop--which was and continues to be a complete mess. :P Not much to talk about, other than that we were lifting a bunch of stuff repeatedly.

On Wednesday I did some housekeeping stuff at the PAC, then went to the IGOAL center to help film some more videos. If you watch the How Do I...? series, a lot of the upcoming videos have me asking the question to the missionary in the hot seat. :D At social media that evening we had a skills lab, where we learned to braid yarn. That was pretty neat!

Around this time, I also went to some optometry appointments to get contacts! Finally ditching glasses after... (one two three, uhhhh) ten? years? Wow. So far it's been pretty interesting.

We also found out that the companion of my good friend from before the mission Elder Evan Caffal (currently in Colorado)--that being Elder Caleb Dowdle--was leaving there and joining our mission. The twist? His older brother Elder Jacob Dowdle is in our mission as well. And at the last Sunday meeting they were assigned as companions! Now how's that for a perfect situation.


I went to mission volleyball that night (which was more of a comedy than a game, long story) and don't really have pictures from that, but I did snap one--of the best chalkboard drawing I've ever seen, and possibly ever will see.


For Thursday at Gathering Humanity we did organization work in the warehouse, and put together some silverware trays for apartment setups. That evening there was an awesome party for the folks with March birthdays where we had a cool Escape Room type activity.


In the background, (I think I might have already touched on this) we've put together a mission choir--and we've already sang at a few sacrament meetings. I'm assembling some recording equipment, so hopefully I can get video out of a performance to you folks relatively soon!


That wraps it up for the week, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/hDg8wgfFs5LjkF7a9

Thought: How Can I: Be Still (1:30) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHXBGdRmjlk

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best,

Elder Johnson

Giant dumpster! Week 37: March 21 - 25

Greetings all!

Last week on Monday I started working rehearsals at the PAC for the upcoming show Moana Jr. This has turned out to be quite a bit of work!

We dedicated Tuesday to filling a giant dumpster with wood scraps, and I got some fun pics with that.

Wednesday I did a rough draft of the storyboard for an upcoming choir music video our mission is working on, helped out the school next to the PAC in touching up their powerpoint, and kept going with the Moana rehearsals.

Thursday we did an apartment setup for Gathering Humanity, and Friday we went out to help a friend of Elder Otey's move from an apartment to a house.


Thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/vw8noe68gnzC5tba6

Thought: He Sent His Son, virtual choir. Pretty incredible, with singers from all over the world! https://youtu.be/GKkL-QVLIVY

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson

Recording audio and running shows. Week 38: March 28 - April 3

Salutations!

Not much to share this week, but I'm still hard at work!

At the PAC, I'm continuing to stage manage + run music and slides for Moana Jr, which is actually super intensive focus-wise. (There's a video of what it looks like + a demo of the night vision system I set up a few months ago finally getting put to good use (remember that?))

On Thursday we set up and recorded the piano track for an upcoming choir piano music video! (Going to be a while before you guys see it, it's a huge project)

Friday's seminary mentoring proved quite wonderful--and as a little bonus, one of the students brought along a little plush parrot.

And finally on Sunday, we recorded the vocals for that music video.


That's it, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/2o2UBvQF7PZiiTWZ7

Thought: I absolutely loved General Conference! Here's a great little piece covering President Nelson's messages from this conference: https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/prophet-summary-april-2022-general-conference

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson

The show must go on! Week 39: April 4 - 10

Greetings all!

This week it was go go go from 6am to 9pm every day. (even Saturday)

When I wasn't rehearsing or running shows, I was spending every other second designing and animating marquee slides. (as you do. Refreshing old ones or making new ones) Not much to say, but the shows went very well. So glad I can volunteer my talents for nonprofit community events like this! Back to normal next week, I promise. :P


Then today, we did the first shoot for our upcoming Called to Serve/Let us All Press On music video. Super excited to show that off when it's ready!


Pics/videos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/zVnBeJwiJ6cJqgmX8

Thought: This week in the form of a song, I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go, sung in the Saturday afternoon session by the BYU Idaho Choir. I feel the spirit SO strongly listening to this; gives me the tingles. What an incredible cover: https://youtu.be/aG2fT3JrCu4?t=18235

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best,

Elder Johnson

FOUR apartment setups! Week 40: April 11 - 16

That's right, you read the subject correctly!

After the show finished up on Monday (and I completed yet another marquee slide that I'm actually pretty proud of), I decided to take a PAC break and nose-grind at Gathering Humanity for the rest of the week. Lost count of the amount of beds (let alone everything else) we set up, it was incredible! Hours and hours of work, but I know it's for an excellent cause.

Starting Thursday and going through Saturday, Sister Conover had asked me to help document her confidence camp for young women! That was a super cool experience, and now I get to edit a little highlight reel for everyone who attended. :D


Have a great week!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UQ4JrmD4h2PPZZxx6

Thought: Today I was listening to the Sunday morning session, and I think President Nelson's talk about the power of momentum and the covenant path is especially outstanding: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2022/04/47nelson?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson

Elder Larsen jumped in a freezing pool! Week 41: April 18 - 22

Howdy!

This week was a bit more settled down, but still eventful!

At the PAC I helped with the (digital) cleanup from the show (compressing the recordings and uploading them for distribution, putting equipment back, etc)

Wednesday was content making day, where we brainstormed and shot more videos for the mission social media programs. At that night's mission prayer (in a video call), I don't remember why exactly but after everything was all wrapped up, Elder Larsen jumped in a pool... twice. It was great!

Also this week, I've been restarting my exercise routine to get in shape! That's something that's part of the mission schedule and I've really needed to improve at it, so that's what I'm doing now. (You can see the local memorial I took a picture of on a nightly walk in the album)

At Gathering Humanity we helped with warehouse organization; sorting things on shelves and unloading vehicles.

Friday's seminary mentoring was exhausting but excellent, as always; then after that we went straight into a three hour video shoot at the Gilbert Temple (for the choir music video). And then I went on a six mile walk. :D Great ending to the week.


Until next time!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/aZBhaA5LriSikM638

Thought: Still on a bit of a conference kick. I want to point out this INCREDIBLE talk by Elder Patrick Kearon https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2022/04/24kearon?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson

Ducks in the pool! Week 42: April 25 - 29

Greetings!

Aha, almost broke my streak and missed an email there. Not this time!


Last week was pretty good. At the PAC we swept and mopped the stage, did cleaning and organization, along with helping set up some events. Also a part of my night vision system broke, so I set about fixing it.

At Gathering Humanity I dug a bit more into setting up the Google Workspace for Nonprofits accounts (Gathering Humanity would use this to keep everything organized on the tech side, I was asked to help set it up) and towards the latter half I got some more shelves organized.

Friday's seminary mentoring was a blast--with fun student drawings on the whiteboard, and some incredibly powerful lessons. In particular, one Elder I was tag-team-teaching with had an amazing object lesson about 'the salt of the earth,' and the way he taught it was with a lamp and a container of water (which he poured salt in to make it more conductive). I regret not taking more notes so I could share it here. (I really did feel the spirit with the way he explained things) but I've included a piece from the Ensign about the same topic with similar lessons below. Worth a look.


Hang in there! Love ya all


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/frRJUYaFKJsgbzcKA

Thought: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2014/01/the-salt-of-the-earth?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-list


Elder Johnson


PS:

Wait I forgot about the ducks in the pool! (the subject line) That was on Thursday, turns out a momma duck had a family in our backyard and they were there for a few days. Very cute!


Ok have a good week

Elder Johnson

Big truck. Week 43: May 2 - 6

Heya!

This week was great!

At the PAC this week was more of the usual, with stuff to move around and some marquee fixing going on.

I also kept up my exercise routine and have dropped two pounds. It begins!


At Gathering Humanity, the organization was finally approved to use Google Workspace for Nonprofits, which will be huge for productivity. This week I was expecting an apartment setup or warehouse organization, but actually I did something new: furniture delivery!

There are a few things the apartment setup doesn't typically get done, and that's placing bed frames, tables, chairs, couches, and the like. I got to hop in the cab of a mid-size semi and bounce all over Chandler carrying heavy things up stairs. (Sometimes very precariously, mind you)

But first we took a pit stop at Deseret Industries to donate some things, and used grant money to get extra furniture--alongside stuff from the GH storage unit. Send a reply if you ever had that one wooden chair in the photo album at your house! That's a super nostalgic design for me. By the end of the deliveries I was absolutely drenched in sweat, it was crazy cool. (I got a short video of some of the activities, check it out)

Seminary mentoring was cool, and I thought that that recreation of Balloney (from Phineas and Ferb) that had lost all its air kind of resembled a certain someone... Also in between classes at one point there was a cool piano jam session.


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/ghRYtauiKgbdH1G86

Thought: Our discussion in Elder's Quorum today covered this Eyring talk from October 2021. Really fantastic!

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/10/38eyring?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Have a good week,

Elder Johnson

My mission leaders got released... but at least the music video is done! Week 44: May 9 - 14

Greetings!

Oh boy, what an interesting week!

At the PAC I helped run some presentations and fixed up my night vision system.

On that fateful Monday evening, my mission leaders got released and my mission was split. :(

Bit of a gut punch to start the week off.

Anyway, I used the opportunity of a gathering to get my selfie quota in. ;)


Choir practice continued throughout the week, getting ready for the 15 minutes of prelude at the North America Southwest Conference. Learning 15 minutes of piano music was a new challenge for me--but luckily hymns repeat a lot, so it wasn't all that bad.

At Wednesday IGOAL we got some more good social media content shot, then Elder Steadman and I opened up his laptop to upgrade the RAM and found out we didn't quite have what we needed to finish the job, so we put that on hold for a bit.


At Gathering Humanity I went through and got most of their Google Workspace email accounts set up, and helped organize school supplies in the warehouse. (Also a lady was carrying around a small dog and I got my selfie quota in.)

Later that day we found a tortoise hanging around in the front yard, so we took care of it for a few hours until we found the owners. Thing was adorable and hilarious, walking around the house!

Friday's seminary mentoring was the very last... man, those kids are awesome. They'll go on to do great things, I know it. Seminary leaders had a pizza party ready for us which we were very grateful for! (with the expensive stuff too--I don't even want to think about how much that cost)


Saturday's North America Southwest Conference went very well! The prelude went off without a hitch, and there were some amazing speakers there. Elder Steadman and I finished upgrading his laptop afterwards, and finally, finally, we premiered the Called to Serve/Let Us All Press on (Let Us All Call to Serve?) music video that we've been working on for months. Probably the most ambitious video project I've ever been a part of, bar none. While the final product might not look like much, getting that many people to show up to three different shoots with the right clothes, making sure everyone is on task and looking good on camera (actually most of that was Sister McCurdy haha, I'm just the camera dude), editing together 36 simultaneous perspectives/tons of takes from a few different cameras plus keeping it all in sync... wow. But my goodness it was so much fun. If you have a spare three minutes give it a go. Link below :D


Later that Saturday, my sister was at a stoplight and struck (lightly-ish) from the front by a Honda Fit involved in an accident. Praying for everyone involved. (Word of warning, the dashcam video is a little shocking but not inappropriate)


That is all for the week, thank you for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/2BnksDxNydmedubaA

Thought: The finished Let Us All Press On/Called to Serve music video! I hope it brings you joy and invites the spirit. (Share with a friend, if you will) https://youtu.be/Gvg0tS9mgTg

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best,

Elder Johnson

I picked up a new location! Week 45: May 16 - 20

Hello there!

This week was pretty eventful!

At the PAC I packed concessions with new candy, set up for some events, and animated a new marquee slide.

I also managed to keep up with the exercise routine--an extended walk every weekday! Hoping to continue that, and also looking into getting a hybrid bike at some point.

At Thursday's Gathering Humanity, we did a bit of warehouse organization, a bit of tech work, and then finished up with an apartment setup. We did it before the electricity was turned on and before the folks with the furniture showed up, so I had to guess where some of the wall hangings might fit best. Later that day at Mission Mutual we did some filming for a few projects.

On Friday I started up a new location: Midwest Foodbank! If you have an incredible memory, you might recall a service project the mission went to in the Week 6 email. Well, it's the same place--but this time I'm in the warehouse moving huge pallets of food around. (and I fulfilled my selfie quota) That was honestly incredible, I'm excited to go back this week!


That about wraps it up, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/44DBM1UuBPEANY8fA

Thought: A conference talk I was listening to earlier. A great reminder of peace, and the perils of contention. Not as the World Giveth, Jeffrey R. Holland. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/04/23holland?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson

Welcome home Elder Wise! Week 46: May 23 - 27

Hi all!

At the PAC last week I did some of the usual design work and helped around the place. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is coming up soon, excited to work on that.


On Tuesday I did a bit of family-oriented service, finally finally finishing up the prom video! Shot and tightly edited in a TV/vlog style, it tells the story of all the fun things that happened during the scavenger hunt my sisters and their friends did for high school prom this year. Give it a shot and let me know what you think if that sounds interesting: https://youtu.be/Pli5bx-S1-4

Speaking of videos, on Tuesday a few of us missionaries went up to the Somali Center to shoot them a promo video. They haven't said exactly, but my best guess is that it will help them with getting the word out on social media/donations. That one's still on the editing docket, need a bit of extra footage.


Wednesday, I went with Elder Tucker to support the homecoming of our dear friend Elder Wise! He was in Minnesota; great to have him back.


Thursday at Gathering Humanity (which it's official--I'm also picking up on Tuesday from here on out) we did a lot of the usual warehouse sorting, and I also worked on their website. (updating plugins, fixing outdated info, the works) Of particular note was a mug printed with Godzilla and the Great Wave off Kanagawa... work of art if you ask me.

Later in the evening I had the pleasure of getting my first DJ gig! ....in the backyard, for my sister's graduation party. Very fun!


Friday we drove out with the big Gathering Humanity truck to do some service at a senior care center. They had many people pass away over the course of a few years during the pandemic, and they were ready to donate the furniture left behind. So the mission crew went up there and got the furniture from about twenty apartments loaded into the truck. Great project, and I hope all the refugees that receive this furniture can make good use out of it! (My tag kept falling off and I almost lost it so that's why it's not in these shots, but still--selfie quota!)


Thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/iMTTbjVheztHjb5d9

Thought: From the studies this week. Amazing chapter!

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/alma/24?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson

I was in a car crash, but everyone is okay. Week 47: May 30 - June 3

When I wrote my previous email, I didn't think it could come close to being my last...

Ok that's a little dramatic, but hey I'm still a bit shaken up. :P

I was on my way to the PAC Wednesday when an elderly lady in a 2018 Subaru Outback hit me on the driver's side. Everyone walked away okay (I got some cuts and diagnosed with a mild concussion) but it could have been a whole lot worse. Very very grateful that it wasn't. Our car is at a collision center as I type this, remains to be seen whether it's going to be totaled. We'll find out on Monday. (There's dashcam video in the album if you want to see. Yup, this is the same car that got hit not two weeks ago) Something like this really makes one reflect on how fragile we all are


Might be frazzled right now, but I didn't let that stop me (completely, at least) from getting some service in!

At the PAC I got some tech work done and started projection work for the upcoming Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

At Gathering Humanity we did some more warehouse work, and I did a little bit more on updating the website. (If anyone knows WordPress pretty well that would be very helpful, haha)


Unfortunately that's about all, but hopefully I'll be kicking back into high gear next week!


Stay safe everyone


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Paj7AZnroEBZiLCE9

Thought: The conference talk I was listening to in the car when I got hit. That reminds me, I should probably finish it... https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2022/04/18eyring?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson ❤️

Oh no, the flowers are everywhere. Week 48: June 5 - June 10

Heya!
Yea the car is totaled. :( But hey, what can ya do. RIP Honda Accord 2003 - 2022.

On Sunday there were the usual meetings, and I helped check in on the neighbor's sugar gliders/dogs.

At the PAC, rehearsals for Joseph are still in full swing! Looking forward to the showings.

At Gathering Humanity we did a very exhausting apartment setup (it's hot outside and there was no AC in the apartment) but everything turned out great. Also did the usual warehouse and tech work. This time we assembled some amazon-returned furniture that was donated.

And at Midwest Food Bank I had a very very busy day moving around pallets and unloading trucks. One of the shippers failed to wrap some of their pallets of flowers... boxes filled with water. So when we got the forklift in there tons of the boxes just tipped over aaand... yeah that was a disaster. Not very fun to clean up, but we got it done in the end.


And that's it for the week, thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/N7pKKKsmfvdThY1w8

Thought: Here's a talk that really really touched me this week, definitely listen to it if you can! https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2012/10/the-first-great-commandment?lang=eng

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Elder Johnson


Bonus: I think I got distracted by the crash and forgot to show you this--I finally finished editing that TV episode from way back in January! TCSM Sliced (Pilot) - S1E01 "Cupcake Combat" (6:51) https://youtu.be/Wx_YrQpwqcc

Really proud of how it turned out, considering how off the cuff the whole thing was.

I'm seven feet tall, did you know? Week 49: June 13 - June 17

Heya!

Really great last week!

On Monday I blasted through editing the promo video for the Somali Center. Quite proud of how it is so far, but got some feedback that it needs some tweaks. Almost there!

Tuesday we did a huge apartment setup at a place an hour away, but it was really great at the end. After that we picked up two car load's worth of linens donations and brought them back to the Gathering Humanity warehouse.

On Wednesday I went back up to the Somali Center and got some new footage for the revised video.

Thursday was quite possibly the busiest day on the service mission so far, bouncing all over the valley picking up furniture, assembling furniture, then unloading it at tons of refugee apartments for seven hours. Quite the workout, but very fulfilling!

Throughout the week there were rehearsals for Joseph in the evenings.

Then on Friday was another moving project, loading up a 20-foot UHAUL with some ward friends. And I fulfilled my selfie quota in a humorous manner. (I'm seven feet tall, did you know? Ha ha)


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/78cGLXeMKtGPQbjr8

Thought: Holland talks always make me tear up a little https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2013/04/lord-i-believe?lang=eng

"I would say to all who wish for more faith, remember this man! In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. In the growth we all have to experience in mortality, the spiritual equivalent of this boy’s affliction or this parent’s desperation is going to come to all of us. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes."

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Elder Johnson

Fifty: nifty! Week 50: June 20 - June 25

Hi all!

At the PAC we started running Joseph, (which went very well!) and I did all of the usual volunteer service.

At Gathering Humanity there was an apartment setup and some more good 'ol warehouse organization plus bonus furniture assembly .

And Midwest Foodbank kept me busy with trucks to unload, freezers to organize, and floors to sweep! (And selfie quota, of course)


Keeping busy over here, talk soon! (Y'all are oddly quiet, feel free to send me some of the stuff you did this week or a funny video or something)


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/aRxBAF3Ca1GDAPwm7

Thought: The conference talk I listened to this morning, always love Eyring https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2021/10/38eyring?lang=eng

You will not have the opportunity to ask aloud for answers from the speakers, but you can ask your loving Father in prayer.

I know from experience that answers will come to fit your needs and your spiritual preparation. If you need an answer that is important to your eternal welfare or that of others, the answer is more likely to come.

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Elder Johnson

Joseph finishes up and furniture delivery. Week 51: June 27 - July 1

Heya all!

At the PAC we finished up Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Great run! PAC is closed for a few weeks, so I'll have to find something else temporarily.

At Gathering Humanity I got to do another run with Jeff, bouncing around Phoenix and unloading furniture at refugee apartments. Very tiring work but very very worth it; it's honestly my favorite thing to do on the mission right now.

As a bonus, I got some new running shoes and a bike, so looking forward to the better workouts ahead.

And finally, the Somali American United Council video is done! Pretty proud of this: https://youtu.be/qWd1vTeimXc (Made a push on off days to finish a couple of other pending mission video projects.)


Have a good one!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/z1Mo6QKgDF5Yajdn7

Thought: From the studies this week https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2012/04/mountains-to-climb?lang=eng

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Best,

Elder Johnson

Wow that was fast! Week 52: July 4 - July 8

Hi all!

Last week I got approval and took time off to visit extended family, so nothing much to report.

However, I am now a year into the mission!

Thank you for reading and sticking with me.


Cheers!

Elder Johnson

The troubles of IKEA furniture. Week 53: July 11 - July 15

Hi all!

Last week was smooth sailing, with a lot of stuff to do at Gathering Humanity and a new location.

But first: at Gathering Humanity we got two refugee apartment setups done, and I filmed some portions of those for the promo video that GH wants. (After one of the setups, found some pretty cheap gas) Think I'm pretty good on the setup footage now, just need some interviews.

Also went to AzCEND this week, to help set up some furniture! They had nine pallets of the stuff, and plenty of volunteers to boot. Good thing they did, since the manufacturing tolerances on those things aren't...great. Takes some serious fiddling.

Also keeping up the exercise.


Until next time!

Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/WnN7SYJd9Yu5C6e46

Thought: (This one's really important if you haven't listened to it yet. A staple of comp study) https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/jeffrey-r-holland/lessons-liberty-jail/

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Elder Johnson

I went on the longest wild goose chase. Week 54: July 18 - July 22

Heya all!

Last week was wild, lots going on.

At the PAC I got some decent slide work done, and they had some youth camps going on there so it was a bit loud. :P

I didn't make it out to Gathering Humanity since I woke up feeling sick on Tuesday, and on Thursday I got word they had enough people to do the setup so I went out to Lutheran Social Services instead since they needed help. Little did I know what I was in for!

A few minutes in, a big bus of refugees pulled into the parking lot. They stopped by to get showers, have lunch, and use the restroom. I spent half an hour walking around helping everyone get connected to the WiFi, which was a neat experience since almost none of them spoke English. :D

Afterwards I was an airport shuttle driver for a few hours, and my last passenger needed to take a Greyhound bus plus get a few errands done. So we bounced all over the north valley looking for a way to exchange currency and get a prepaid SIM card for his phone. Unfortunately both of these efforts proved to be unsuccessful (you don't want to know, it took so long. I should have listened to the lady at Lutheran Social Services who said not to do it), so we gave up and went to the Greyhound station 25 minutes away... and then it turned out to have closed down and been replaced with an international food market. Well I mean the Greyhound sign was still there, it was just upside down and so faded by the sun you could barely see it. Buuuut.... it just didn't sit right with me to leave him there in a super sketchy neighborhood. So I did some more digging and we eventually got him settled. (Found the station and confirmed the bus number. Turns out it was right next to the airport. Ugh I was so close from the start) Hope he's doing alright in New York!

Friday was the craziest day by far! I worked at Midwest Food Bank unloading trucks, then afterwards went directly to the Gilbert Temple for a laundry shift. (I'll be doing that on Fridays now) And of course, did the Friday six mile walk. By the end of the day I got 26,000 steps, and was absolutely dead tired. Great stuff, can't wait to do it all over again.

Thanks for reading!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/n3sjoWW9EHFmK7Bz6

Thought:

Esther 4:14 "For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there aenlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a btime as this?"

Great video here: (second one down) https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/old-testament-seminary-student-material-2018/esther/lesson-109?lang=eng

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Elder Johnson

Oops. Week 55: July 25 - July 29

Hey all, and welcome to the latest email I've ever sent. Oops!

Still not missing a week, nope not me.

At the PAC I did the only thing I seem to do anymore, make more slides. :P Pretty proud of that Cinderella one though.

On Tuesday at Gathering Humanity we got some sorting done in the back and had the usual warehouse tasks to do.

On Wednesday I needed a bit of a recovery day since I had surgery on my right foot to get rid of some warts that we'd been trying to kill for over a year. Doctor said to keep off my foot as much as possible so it can heal faster.

So naturally I went to Gathering Humanity and did a setup the very next day. :P Don't worry, I went slower and had help. Also wore a boot.

Though Friday is the day I usually go to temple laundry, Midwest Foodbank, then do a 6 mile walk (totalling 25k steps) I... could not do that. Instead I did some more slides from home. I actually really do miss exercising now. Here's to a fast heal!


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/28BoYuMxmCmKXUug8

Thought: From the study phone call this week. Stay strong! https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2022/04/14bednar?lang=eng

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Elder Johnson

Doing service with a medical boot isn't all that bad. Week 56: August 1 - August 5

Heyo!

Another week, another email. And actually one time for once!

I'm gonna let you in on a little secret, my memory is so bad that I write my emails purely by looking at the photo album... I need to take more pictures. :P

Hence, on Monday I think I made it out to the PAC and did something, but I actually don't know. My first picture is around 3pm, where I went to the patriarch's house to do some tech support. Brother and Sister Freestone needed me to help transfer some files between computers, but the catch is the monitor backlight went out on the older laptop they were using. So we ended up using a lamp to light up the screen (very poorly, but it was enough) and some tricky maneuvering to get everything onto an external hard drive. The computer we transferred the files off was decently fast...considering that it has an AMD Athlon 64 and Windows Vista. :P But the computer we transferred the files to is in desperate need of a new SSD install. They said it was going to be pretty slow, but I underestimated how slow exactly. Looking forward to helping them upgrade the computer as a service project. :)

Also had a multi-mission meetup, got to talk to some folks I hadn't seen in a while.

Gathering Humanity this week was solid, got some of that classic warehouse work in, unloading the truck and all that. Afterwards I found some of the cheapest gas around! As I'm writing this, it's still going down. Well that's nice.

Elder Larsen is concluding his mission soon, so he invited us for sushi. Always fun!

Also this week, a return to Lutheran Social Services, and taxiing some refugees to the airport! We were meant to help some new arrivals call their families (with flip phones) but the bus didn't show up for several hours, and we ran out of time.

Then finally, I went to a new place--the Gathering Humanity Serving Center. GH needs me to make a promo video for social media and the like, and the serving center is one part of the operation that's essential, but I hadn't seen it quite yet. Looking forward to sharing the video when it's complete! I have an interview segment to shoot on Tuesday.


Pics: https://photos.app.goo.gl/G4sCm7aDAcMtEXRW6

Thought: We studied Job at the weekly mission meeting. Be like Job! Unwavering faith, trust in the Lord.

Email archive and signup: https://jjricks.com/mission-blog


Elder Johnson