Tuesday, April 30, 2013



It rained a lot this week.  Like A LOT.  I loved it!  I thought tracting in the rain was a lot of fun and people generally took pity on us and let us in their house.  We got soaked and we live up on the this hill so the roads were like rivers when we were making our way back home and had a blast!  There was one weird guy we found in the rain though.  He was sitting in the middle of the road and was bleeding out of his head.  We went and tried to talk to him to see if he needed any help, but we couldn't understand him because his mouth was filled with blood.  He said something about money and we really couldn't do anything for him so we just left.

So, this week was a week of finding people to teach.  Most of our investigators are either:

a.  baptized
b.  disappeared off the face of the earth
c.  non existent
d.  cut

We went and tried to find people all week and did not have much success.  It's all good though because I got to meet a lot of interesting people this week.  So I think I will talk about them mostly in this email.

We had one guy that came up and talked to us about how Jesus built the pyramids in Egypt.  We gave him a pamphlet and he committed to coming to church the following week.

We ran into the guy who talked to us for about 90 minutes about Adam and Eve the other day and he actually read parts of the Book of Mormon.  He started in the book of Jacob because that was the only name he recognized from the Bible.  He was confused because it did not follow the storyline of Jacob in the Bible, but he read it nevertheless.  We told him it was about the people in America and that helped him out.  He then said some more nonsense and that was about it.

There are two kinds of people who love missionaries:

a.  little kids
b.  drunk guys

The weekends are always hard at night.  At night everybody gets drunk and parties outside their house so we have difficulties getting in with anyone because they won't remember us the next morning.  So on one of these nights we were talking to one investigator who runs this market down the street and we were waiting for him to finish up with some customers.  This one drunk guy came up and started talking with me.  He asked some of the usual questions, "Where are you from?  What are you doing here?" and he then proceeded to talk to me about Brazilian women.  I told him I wasn't allowed to date anyone while on my mission, but he wouldn't accept it.  I then fibbed and told him I had a girlfriend serving a mission too and he got really sad.  He felt really sorry for talking to me about Brazilian women and we became good friends.  There was this other drunk guy we ran into while leaving said investigators market.  I'm not quite sure what he said, but it was about God and how God related to his beer can.  He was really getting into his "sermon" and our investigator was getting embarrassed.

There was this lady who we found and she talked with us for some time and she had a lot of stuff to say about religion.  We could tell she was a little crazy and we asked her if we could have a prayer.  She asked if we wanted her to pray and we said yes because we were really curious as to how she would pray.  We bowed our heads and she closed her eyes and starting shouting praises to the Lord and blessing everyone and everything.  She had lots of wonderful dramatic movements and we knew "she could feel it!"  I was trying really hard not to laugh during her "prayer" and it was overall a wonderful experience.

On a more spiritual note there was one really cool thing that happened this week.  We were walking down this road after lunch and this guy came up to us and said we were men of God and that he had to talk with us.  We followed him home and he told us his story about how he used to be homeless and how God helped him overcome it and he now has a family.  He was really interested in what we had to say and invited us to come back.

Portuguese language update:

I am not yet fluent and I've got a few more months until I am, but I have improved a lot.  In the beginning it was a tad bit frustrating, but as soon as I stopped caring and just tried to do the best I could, it started coming.  I now don't really have to think too much about translating what I want to say and I can speak pretty well without thinking, which has been a huge blessing these past two months.  

The culture hasn't really weirded me out or anything.  The first few days I thought the houses were really strange and I had to get used to not showering with hot water.  I got over it pretty fast and it really isn't that strange of a place here.  I've grown to really love it here in Brazil and love every second of being here!

Até Mais,
- Tanner

My house in Aracaju Brazil.
So I think this thing is called a Pimtopa, but I'm not quite sure.
It's like a nut inside a fruit inside a nut.  Some lady gave it to me while
we were contacting.  We knocked on her door and she just gave us some.
You are supposed to suck that little white fleshy stuff off and it's disgusting.
It tastes all chalky and feels unnatural in your mouth.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Elder Godoy & Elder Johnson tracting.


So, not much happened during the week so I am sorry if this letter is a little short, I'll send lots of pictures instead.

We had two baptisms this week, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.  The first one was the baptism of a less active member's kid and we had his grandpa baptize and ordain him.  The other Elders in our group had a kid to baptize that day too.  It was done before a primary activity so there were a lot of kids and parents there to welcome them into the ward.
We had a baptism on Sunday for one of our investigators and five minutes before church started.  The font over flooded and water was going everywhere so that was really fun to mop up.  It wasn't too big of a deal because everything here is made of tile and the church is designed to have rain run through it.  I had the opportunity to baptize our investigator and it was overall a very memorable baptism.

So I got to try this fruit called Jenipapo.  It kind of looks like a failed attempt at a Pomegranate and you don't just eat it plain, you have to make it into juice first.  Apparently it is really healthy for you and its tastes like a mixture between an apple and a pear.  It has kind of a funny smell to it so it is definitely a fruit on uncertainty.

Another local fruit I've eaten is a Guaraná.  It is like a Jenipapo and is a fruit you don't just take a bite out of.  Instead, they make soda out of it and this stuff is everywhere!  I can't really describe the taste.  It's kind of an applecidergingerale but not kind of thing.  And based on the pictures on the bottles, they look like little apples about the size of a cherry.  Coca Cola makes their own brand called Kuat, but the best in Guaraná Antarctica.  Here is is everywhere, but it is very hard to find in the states.  The only place Elder Rutledge and I could find it was in the import section at Dan's grocery store.

The two other Elders in our house are Elder Izqueirdo and Elder Hurst.  Elder Iquierdo is from Fronteirra Uruguay (the border between Uruguay and Brasil).  Elder Hurst is from New York and only has about two months left.

You asked what I do on my "Pday":

Write letters
Eat at this restaurant down the street from the church.
And whatever else we feel like doing.

The reason why I was in Maceió last week for the day finishing up my Visa stuff was to tell the police that I am actually living in Brasil now and they wanted to get finger prints and a bunch of other stuff too.

So that is about it for this week.



The Slaughter House across the street.  The yard is about 2/3 the size of our backyard
 and it is filled with hundreds of chickens, geese, goats, pigs, and a few cows.
 Occasionally someone will walk out of the house carrying a screaming
  goat by their feet and drop it in their trunk and drive away with it.

Brazilian food - rice, meat, maccarão, this pico kind of stuff,
 and beans, but I didn't want any beans so there is none on this plate.

Monday, April 15, 2013

First 100 Days


Well, I am slowly starting to feel more and more Brazilian.  About once or twice a week people tell me I look Brazilian and my companion from Parana Brazil looks American/Chinese/Spanish/Japanese.  Which is funny because he looks like none of these.  I am starting to develop some pretty sweet tan lines.  My favorite tan line is this white stripe I have where my watch covers.

On Tuesday they sent me up to Maceió to finish my Visa papers and that was like a little mini vacation for the day.  This week was also transfers and they added another companionship to our proselyting area in Siquera Campos.  Our house is very small and we all barely fit, but it is all good.  Our new roommates are funny and they keep things interesting.  I went on divisions with one of them the other day to show him around our Siquera and kind of showed him where everything is.  I felt really cool.

There are some benefits to being American down here.  When we go contacting we always say where we are from and whenever I say I am from the United States I instantly become 10 times more interesting and they all look at me.  People also like to practice their English on me and they like to ask me what it is like back home and what I like about Brazil.  They also say they like my accent.

So this week everyone was in cahoots with the adversary.  We had like three different anti people come and talk to us:

1.  We met this one guy when we were leaving the LAN House (where we do emailing and such).  He was from one of the local churches and he talked forever about the Holy Ghost and the spirit world and it was more annoying than anything.

2.  Another guy we met while contacting and he talked for like 15 minutes about how all the churches were true while implying ours was the only one that was not.

3.  And another guy we met contacting who when we entered his house pulled out a Bible, sat us down, and talked for about 90 minutes about Adam and Eve and original sin.  At the end he told us we were doing a good thing and that we were really trying, BUT we really needed to study the Bible more and that we really did not know that much.  I was so mad.  So we bore our testimonies then got up and left.  They guy said he wanted us to come back Saturday...

Also, another weird thing.  Someone gave one of our investigators this Anti Mormon article printed from the Internet randomly one day.  He showed it to us and we talked about the importance of daily prayer and scripture reading.

None of these experiences were damaging in any way.  It only confirmed to me that our work is so true and that we are out here for a righteous cause.  None of this stuff would happen if the church was not 100% true.  It really is such a testimony builder to see all of this opposition.  Nevertheless, it is still annoying.

So this week I decided to make an "Undeniable List."  I got the idea to make a list about all the major spiritual experiences I have had over the years, so that if there ever came a time in my life when I feel  my faith is dwindling I can look back at this list and say to myself that if I were to say any of these experiences did not actually happen and I did not feel what I felt or saw what I saw I would be a liar.  And one of the crazy things is when I started I could not really stop.  The list kept growing and I just thought how dang true this gospel is and how there is nothing that can say otherwise.  This church is so true and I know it with everything I have got.

Until next week,

This is Marcio Freitas Dos Santos.  He is our recent convert and he was the one who received the anti material.  We took him to conference in downtown Aracaju and let me tell you, he is a firm convert and has an amazing testimony.  He got in a motorcycle accident about a year ago and was in a coma for eight months.  When he woke up his dad had a stroke so he spends his days now taking care of his dad.  He is a really awesome guy and is way sick!!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Serving in Aracaju Brazil

Tanner with his companion Elder Godoy.

This week I was able to finish the book "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage and that ruled.  My understanding of the life of Christ has improved and it helped me a lot with the doctrine He taught.

My companion is Elder Godoy.  He is from Parana, which is one of the southern states in Brazil.  He has been on his mission for about eight months.  He doesn't speak any English except for phrases such as, "They will be baptized!" and "Headshots!", but it's all good.  I am learning Portuguese at a really fast rate.

Mom, you asked what a normal day is for me (they use military time down here):
6:30   wake up
7:30-12:00   shower, study (I love studying, it is so sick!  I learn so much and I always finish wanting to know more.)  Go buy pão doce (sweet bread) at the local market and get ready for the day.
12:00-14:00   Have lunch at a member's home.
14:00-21:00   Work.  We tract and teach lessons all day.
21:00-21:30   Plan
21:30-22:30   Take another shower and realize how exhausted I am.  Flip a table out of the severe lack of English.  Pitifully sob.  Pass out.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

So this week we were able to go into downtown Aracaju for Conference and that ruled.  Downtown Aracaju is within walking distance from our house, but we decided to take the bus.  Buses here are FUN.  You get about 75 people in a cramped bus and the buses go flying down the road and they take turns hard so it's like riding the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, except with the actual probability of physical harm.  Our stake center is in downtown Aracaju and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend some of the sessions in the "Gringo" room with the rest of the American missionaries in our zone.  It was soooooooooooo awesome!  There was air conditioning, comfy chairs, ENGLISH, and we were able to talk and tell jokes.  It is hard to be funny here.  My kind of humor does not really translate into Portuguese too well and Brazilian humor is different than American humor.  My only opportunity to really tell jokes and stuff is in letters and emails.  Anyways, Jeffrey R. Holland's talk was amazing, as usual.  All the missionaries didn't like Elder Falabellas talk about marriage (he gave a talk in the MTC when I was there) and I learned there are two types of relationship status' you can have on a mission - Single or Trunky.
Downtown Aracaju on our way to Conference.

I have also made friends with the Brazilian kids who play futebol outside our house at night.  A few of them speak English and they like to practice on me because there aren't really any Americans up here in the nordeste.  Two of them actually came with us to conference so we are hoping for some progress there.  They are so cool and I love talking with them.  They tell me we live in the Bronx of Aracaju and they like to talk to me about cars, snow, and death metal.

The people here like to call me "Johnsons Baby".  Apparently it has something to do with a Johnsons & Johnsons baby shampoo commercial and so that has kind of become my nickname.

Dad, an answer to your question - I am not sure if I can buy meat from the slaughter house across the street from our house.  Whenever people leave, they are usually holding a screaming goat by the legs and throw it into the trunk of their car.  Weird.

Lanches.  That is what they call hamburgers down here and they are an abomination to all things American.  They like to put corn and chunks of hotdog in them.  I mean, they are actually really good, but they are still an abomination.  So, a typical Brazilian lunch here consists of rice, some kind of meat, and either beans or lasagna (go figure).  But, the lasagna down here is easily my favorite thing to eat.  It is different, though.  They don't use any red sauce or cheese in the center.  Instead they have lasagna noodles, hamburger, and they smother that bad boy in a ridiculous amount of cheese and let me tell you it's divine.  They also have pizza down here, but like the hamburgers, they like to put corn and peas on them.  They are still good, but it's different.

That is about it for this week, I will try and send some pictures!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Oi Tudo Mundo!

Things have been going pretty well here in Aracaju.  It's pretty hot down here and everyone is pretty nice.  The food out here is mainly beans, rice, and lots of meat so I really can't complain, oh and lasagna, pretty weird.  My companion right now is Elder Godoy and I think he's doing pretty good.  I'm not entirely sure because he only speaks Portuguese.  We had our first baptism the other day.  It went over really well and our convert has a lot of faith.  At least I think he does, I'm still not quite sure what people are saying.

For Easter dinner I had some Brazilian bagel bites so that was pretty sweet.  They have the Easter bunny down here and the night of Christ's crucifixion everybody gets drunk and parties in the street.

So some things about life down here:

I live right across the street from a slaughterhouse.  There is a lot of...activity in the morning filled with much clucking and mooing.  Whenever I get the chance to walk by it throughout the day I hear the sound of clucking and then a loud WHACK! and then the clucking stops, so that is pretty neat.  My house does not have hot water and has lots of spiders.  We also have a little lizard that hangs out and eats most of the bugs so that is pretty cool.  After awhile though you get used to the way of living down here and it's not too bad.

Apparently the other day when my companion and I stopped for a soda break an apostate came up to me and started yelling at me.  It didn't hurt my feelings too bad, probably because I had no idea what he was saying.

Rapaz! (pronounced hapiez) is a word that everyone here loves to use and they use it for everything.  Apparently it is only a nordeste (northeast) thing and it translates to "young man."  They like to use it like an "oh boy" kind of thing and I love it.  It makes me smile whenever somebody says it.

I got confused for a Brazilian again yesterday and my native companion was confused for an American.  We both started laughing and I felt proud of myself for blending in so well.

Kids here are merciless.  They are always talking to me really really fast and like to tell me how easy Portuguese is.  They try to teach me things to say that is pretty nice.  The language is...coming...I have no idea what anyone is saying to me here so I'm just kind of making it up as I go.  I will get it eventually though!!

Anyway, that is about it for the week.  If anyone emails me and it seems impersonal, rushed, or if I don't respond for a week or two I'm so sorry.  I only have an hour to email and it's pretty crazy.  Keep going strong and have a great week.

Boa Sorte!

- Elder Johnson

P.S.  I heard "Monkey Wrench" from the Foo Fighters the other day so that was a pretty sweet tender mercy.