Monday, July 29, 2013

All Quite On The Southern Front

Elder Johnson with the Maceio Brazil Mission President Gonzaga and his wife (taken in March).

So this week started off pretty well, but the adversary thought it funny to turn things against us.  We had a meeting with President Gonzaga on Wednesday and it was awesome!  We learned more about inviting investigators to learn for themselves instead of us missionaries throwing information at them.  He also showed us a quote from Elder Bednar that says, "The gift of discernment in its highest manifestation is to see the good in others that they have yet to see in themselves."  I found it to be a very profound quote and it touched me quite a bit.  So we left that meeting on a spiritual high, but it was all down hill after that.  Everyone got sad for some reason.  I don't know why, but everyone in the world, including myself, was just off that day.  Nobody was home afterwards and even the one investigator we did have was pretty depressed that day.  We then got a call that one of our investigators we were teaching (who by the way suffers from severe depression and dyslexia.  Like he doesn't function properly kind of depression - he can't focus and he also talks to his dog and to non existent people) ran away and nobody knew where he was.

The story gets better.

He's about 23 and a few days before he ran away his mom cut us and told us to leave him alone and let him be Catholic.  The funny thing was that his condition had bettered as we taught him and it was only after we stopped meeting with him that he started to worsen.  In the middle of the night he grabbed all of his things and just left.  His mom then asked us what we did with him and where he was.  Her ex-husband also blamed us for his disappearance and they started telling everybody that we had something to do with his disappearance.  Lo and behold four days later daddy found him sitting in front of the chapel.  He said that a member of our church gave him a ride to Bahia, which is the next state over and about a four hour drive to the city of Salvador, in the middle of the night and they just chilled there for a few days.  He couldn't tell us who the member was and nobody in our ward went to Bahia.  His dad was furious and still blames us for his disappearance and threatened to break everything in the church.  Needless to say, we will not be returning to his residence anytime soon.

It was only afterwards I learned what people really thought of our church down here.  Back home I always heard that people confused us for polygamists, Amish people, and at times they'd say we had horns.  I'd then think how dumb that was, but it is far worse down here.  Here are some examples:

1.  We kidnap virgins in the middle of the night and keep them as our prisoners in our churches.

2.  We kidnap people and bring them to the United States so we can sell their organs.

3.  We have demons.  At times you'll see people walking down the street and if they see you they'll start singing or humming hymns because their pastor told them that we have demons and the only way they can protect themselves form our inner satanic powers is to sing hymns.  Oh, and demons give us the power to speak English also.

People legitimately think these things.  So yeah that whole fiasco wasn't too good for our public image.

The "snakes" have also started being more aggressive as of late.  There a few of them that live across the street and they like to sit in front of our house (not just them but everybody likes to sit in front of our house because we're the only source of shade on the entire street) and peer in and see what we're up to. One day I left the house and they said I had pretty eyes; I then turned around and hid in the house until I could gain the courage to run past them.  They have also since learned my name, or to read, one of the other, and the other night they were calling my name as I returned home.  Snakes just are stressful and I've had to whip out the ole' "I have a girlfriend back home" line a few times this week, which doesn't really mean anything to them because they reply, "Yeah, but she's back home and I'm here."  Nevertheless it's like an invisible barrier between me and them.

This week really wasn't that bad.  It was filled with much feeling of the spirit and trying to find the elect.  All in all it was a pretty good week in my opinion.  Hope everything is going well back home, love you guys!  Looks like you made our forefathers proud this Pioneer Day by blowing stuff up (it's what they'd want.)  Love you all!

- Elder Johnson

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