Monday, July 8, 2013

182 Days in Babylon

Well I have marked my first six months as a missionary of the Lord and let me tell you it's been an amazing experience so far.  I definitely feel like I am not the same person who I was six months ago, but I feel I've changed for the better.  These past few months have been the best months of my life!  I love doing this work and seeing the blessings this gospel can bring to people.  I have had the opportunity to witness so many miracles happen these past few months, from seeing the blessings of the priesthood in action, learning a second language, and best of all seeing people come unto Christ and knowing that this gospel has made all the difference in the world.  I have also changed a bit physically as well!  Elder Munger likes to describe me as "just getting out of a concentration camp," which I feel is a bit much.  I have indeed lost a bit of weight and I have had to make a few holes in my belt, but it's all good.  It's all this walking/sweating I've been doing the past few months that has really made me lose a bit of weight, but don't worry mom, I do eat and I do not starve myself. :)  My thighs scared me the other day...  I was sitting at the table eating dinner when I rested my hand upon my leg and didn't feel, what appeared to be my leg, but the leg of another who has rather firm leg muscles.  I got over the initial shock, but it still weirds me out from time to time to think that I have any actual real muscle now.

So rain here is pretty crazy.  It's like somebody flips the switch and a hurricane magically appears out of nowhere and rains death, in the form of huge heavy rain drops upon the people.  It will then stop in less than a second, which is absolutely remarkable.  I have yet to learn how the rain can do that.

So for your information mom, I just got your package.  It filled me with joy and I loved the Ensigns you put in it.  I've hung up some of the pictures and quotes you gave me and I no longer require basketball shorts.  I think I have enough to give to every Brazilian companion I will ever have.  Those candy root beer barrels are LEGIT!!!  The first time I've tasted the flavor of root beer down here and I luv it.

Oh and also mom, this is how the mission is divided:

There are two states in my mission, Alagoas and Sergipe.

The city of Maceió is located in Alagoas, which is the poorest and most violent state in Brazil.  Apparently it's also very disorganized so it makes referrals difficult, but it has the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen.

The city of Aracaju is located in Sergipe (both Maceió and Aracaju are the capitals of their respective states.)  The cities are divided into Barrios or neighborhoods.  They also have what they call "The Interior," which is any other settlement in the state that isn't in the capitol.
Aracaju Brazil

By the way, I love that guitar hymns album you got me for Christmas.  It's my favorite thing to listen to!

So a cool experience - Elder Oliveira and I were walking down the road when this girl came up to us and asked us where our church was.  She told us that she was from the Interior and that she just barely moved here and didn't know where the local LDS church was. She said she was just talking about it with her friend when she saw us walking down the street and we were able to point her in the right direction.  She might come to church Sunday, IDK, I thought I might've seen her but I wasn't sure.

Speaking of church, the Relief Society brought in the Elders to talk about how their moms prepared them for missions.  When it was my turn to talk I talked about how I once read a study that the most influential factor that helped young men prepare to serve missions is the fact that their moms were active in the church.  I can bare my testimony that this is very true and the example you set for me really did help me serve a mission.  I will admit that I did get a bit choked up in front of the entire Relief Society, so yeah.....

We also had the opportunity to have Elder Moroni Torgan, a member of the Seventy, come and visit all the missionaries in Sergipe the other day (that meant I got to chill with Elder Rutledge!) and he taught us a lot about working through revelation and working with the spirit, so that was pretty cool.
Mission Tour for Elder Torgan in Aracaju
(Can you find Elder Johnson - clue: third row)
Elder Rutledge and I at the Mission Tour with Elder Moroni Torgan.

We also celebrated the 4th of July in our house (3/4 American) so we made hamburgers and drank Coke.  #Murica.  The hamburgers were okay, we had to work with what we had, and it's hard to grill hamburgers American style down here.

Oh and I also killed a mouse the other day.  The other Elders wouldn't do it so I had to go in there and send that little creature to the abyss (by the abyss I mean the trash can).
Elder Johnson, Mouse Slayer.
Well that's about it for this week.  Love you all and hope everything is going well back home.

- Elder Johnson

P.S.  Oh and have fun in Disneyland without me...

Mmmmmmmm... Maracujá

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