Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Zone Conference

Zone Conference with the MTC boiz!  Elder Roper, Elder Munger, Elder Rutledge, and myself.

Sooo I guess dad told you we got robbed the other week.  It's all good and Elder Godoy and I are doing fine.  So here's the story.  We were walking down the road next to our church and he was talking on the cell phone with some of the other missionaries.  We were about to enter the church to get a drink and then two guys on a motorcycle pulled up.  The guy on the back flashed a gun and told Elder Godoy to give him the cell phone.  He gave them the phone and they went on their way.  I then cursed them and two she bears came out of the bushes and tore them.  There was much rejoicing.  The funniest thing was I knew what was happening the whole time, but when Elder Godoy gave them the phone for a split second I thought, "How did Elder Godoy get this man's phone?"  The really unfortunate part was that we have to call the zone leaders to get a new phone and that is very difficult to do without a unusable phone.  But it's cool and I'm over it.

On a brighter note, apparently peanut butter and jelly sandwiches don't make a lot of sense to Brazilians and they find the idea absolutely disgusting.

Oh and last week on our way back from Burger King (the only one in the entire state) our bus clipped a car and they had to flag down another bus for everyone.  So we basically had two packed busloads into one bus and it was a very sweaty and adventurous experience.

We finally have a hot shower!!!!  This has been awesome!!!  I haven't had a hot shower in weeks and the church came by and installed an electric heater for us.

So a cool experience - we got a referral to go check out a less active, but we had no idea where she lived.  We knew she lived somewhere close to the giant Catholic Church, but that was about it.  So we decided to knock on doors until we found her.  The cool thing was we only needed to knock on one door because we got her house on the first try!!   #HolyGhost4Life   So now we are trying to get her to come back to church and she is showing some desire so we'll see how that goes.

We went to a birthday party for one of our investigator's kids the other day.  The party really started when the Mormon missionaries showed up.  A lot of the people there had a good time trying to speak English to me and they all were laughing and having a great time.  Birthday parties are serious down here.  They said it was just going to be a little cake, but there were tons of people there with decorations, food, and drunken men telling me how much they respect our work.

So an apology is in order.  Sorry I didn't email yesterday, but we had to switch our Pday to Tuesday this week because we had a Zone Conference yesterday with everyone in Sergipe.  Apparently Sister Gonzaga thought it was my birthday, so she made me stand in the little circle of everyone who is having birthdays in the next upcoming months and they sang happy birthday to me and gave me candy.  I was dying of laughter and told her it wasn't my birthday.  She let me keep the candy though.  Oh, and after about 2 1/2 months I finally got to see Elder Rutledge!!!  We had a glorious reunion filled with tears, laughter, and a wonderful vocabulary, which consisted of words such as YOLO and other things that nobody else finds funny.  We got to catch up and share stories.  We spoke Portuguese to each other, but switched over to English because we were too happy.  He looked a little bit like he just served a tour in Afghanistan, but he's doing well.  It was GLORIOUS!!!!!!
Me and Elder Rutledge.  A very joyful reunion!

The work here is going extremely well.  They announced at Zone Conference that they will be making about four new wards in the next month.  The kingdom is growing!!  We haven't had a lot of luck these past weeks.  A lot of the investigators we find don't really have any desire to do much of anything, but I feel like that will soon change.

I. Hate. Snakes.  Snakes are what we call the girls around here who are hunting for missionaries.  They make me so uncomfortable, but I have recently acquired a photo that a friend sent me and I carry it with me everywhere I go.  When they ask me if I have a girlfriend I say yes and show them the picture.  They then get sad and no longer want to be baptized.  But seriously, like this week they have been everywhere and I can't escape them.  They are always saying uncomfortable things and giving me looks that is definitely what I don't need right now!

Anywho, I'm going to an aquarium so have a great week!

- Elder Johnsons Baby

Me and da boiz by our house.

Siqueira Campos

So this beauty is Fanta Maracujá (or as you Yanks know it, Passion Fruit) and let me tell you it's amazing!!
Maracujá is awesome, again you don't eat it, but you turn it into juice or soda.  The Fanta was really hard to find.
 I heard rumors about it so I went to search for it and found it after trying like five stores.  The think
with Maracujá though is that it is a very good sleep aid and it's very difficult to work
after a family has Maracujá juice after lunch.

So this watermelon, that I am obviously enjoying, was grown in our backyard.
Elder Godoy and I found it when it was just a meloncino and it has grown to quite the melon.

This is called a Nuni.  You make it into juice and if you don't add another fruit the taste will kill you.
 One of our investigators gave it to us and I am planning on juicing up this bad boy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Transfer Week

So this week was transfers.  The four of us in Siqueira are staying another transfer and my companion was made district leader.  The night of transfers was rather interesting thought.  That night everyone who was being transferred in the state of Sergipe got to stay in our house!!!  So there were about 15 Elders in our really really tiny house until about two in the morning.  It was rather lots of fun and everyone was sharing stories, eating our food, laughing, telling jokes, and forbidding us who actually had to do stuff in the morning to sleep.

We also talked to a lot of people this week too.  We got about 15 people to commit to coming to church this week.  We were really excited and we went to pick them up for church in the morning and guess what?  No one came.  But, we did learn that one of our investigators is in prison and another one has problems with cigarettes when the day before she said she quit so that was pretty cool.  I bitterly wept all the way to church, but was greeted by our recent converts, which was awesome!!!  It always makes me happy to see our recent converts and to hear their testimonies.

One cool experience I had this week was we were teaching these two ladies about the restoration and they had a lot of questions about the Godhead.  They had previously met with Jehovah Witnesses and they had taught them all sorts of things.  They were confused as to who was who and how they all fit together.  I then had the opportunity to explain the Godhead to them and the roles each member has in our lives.  They then in unison gave a nice big "Ooohhh!" and they understood.  We then helped them recognize the spirit and how it testifies of truth and they were starting to understand everything. I felt really cool afterward because:  1. The spirit was very strong and they understood.  2.  I did it all in Portuguese!!!!!!!!  My language is starting to pick up very rapidly.  I feel like I can understand a majority of what everyone is saying and I can now express complex ideas.  The spirit definitely helped there and I'm amazed at what I can do through the help of the spirit.

I also got your package and it ruled!!!!  I've now hung up some of the posters you've sent me and I read the Ensign.  We get "The Liahona" down here, but it's not the same.  It doesn't have a lot of the stuff that's in the Ensign and it has a lot of the stuff from the Friend and the New Era.  The ties were awesome and Elder Godoy wants to send you a thank you letter.

I have to tell you a funny story.  Last Pday I was chattin with the boys outside our house and they asked me if I had a girlfriend.  I naturally told them I did.  My companion started to laugh because he knows I don't have one and he asked me to go grab a picture of her.  Luckily for me, one of the pictures you had sent me of my friends a while ago was a very convincing picture of Anna and me at Jordan's farewell that I could use.  I brought it out and showed it to them and they were very impresses with my "Girlfriend."

I was dying from internal laughter and then they flipped through my "Apostate Book"(that's what I call the little picture books that the missionaries have of pictures from back home) to a picture of my sister playing soccer.  They asked me, "Who is this girl?"  I replied, "That's my sister."  Then they said, "She plays soccer?"  I said, "Yeah."  They all gathered around and were taken aback by a girl playing soccer (girls don't really play soccer down here.)  They asked me how old she was and I told them almost 13 and so now there are about five 12-year-old Brazilian boys who have a crush on Brinley!!!  I found it to be an overall hysterical experience.

Anyways, thanks for the package it was really awesome and I loved everything you sent me!!!  Good luck with your preschool program mom and I bet your video is awesome!!!

Now to answer your questions.  When we use the computers on Pday it's mainly for email and talking to the mission president.  We can go onto LDS.org and Mormon.org and that's about it.  No reading mission blogs for Elder Johnson.  We can leave our area on Pday if we get permission from the zone leaders.  We have to stay in the zone, but you can do hikes and see sites if there are some in your zone. Today we are going to Centro for Elder Munger's birthday and going to eat some good old American BURGER KING.  (They also have picante ketchup down here; it's nice and hot.)

I'm glad you liked my scripture 2 Kings 2:23-24 from last week and have an awesome week.  I'm going to BURGER KING!!!!

- Tanner

*Tanner sent a separate email to his dad with this note:

So guess what dad.  Me and Elder Godoy were robbed this week.  These two guys on a motorcycle drove up, flashed a gun, and asked for our cell phone.  We gave them our crappy cell phone and then they left.  We are okay and it wasn't really that bad.  It was annoying, however, to try and contact our zone leaders without a cell phone.  I have not told mom and you can decide what to do with this information.

*Tanner's dad woke me up and told me that Tanner had been robbed last week and he was okay.  It freaked me out at first, but then I had a feeling of peace and didn't worry.  I don't know if Tanner was more scared to be robbed or to tell his mother he had been robbed.  We had heard before Tanner left on his mission that this happens frequently in Brazil and I have a feeling this won't be the last time.  I'm just glad he told his dad instead of not telling us.  Thank heaven the Lord blesses his missionaries and keeps them safe.*

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Well, it sure was great to hear from you the other day!  It was a lovely chat and I love your new screen saver! (I sent Tanner a picture of us Skyping and he could see that my screen saver was the picture of him and his companion.)

It wasn't that weird to be talking with you and everyone back home either.  It felt just like it was any other day at the Johnson home in the good old land of air conditioning.  There really isn't that much to report on this week.  Nothing too exciting happened, but yesterday we did get the transfer call and we are all staying in Siqueira for another transfer!  One of the elders is going to die here (this is his last transfer before he goes back home).  And so that's about all that's happened since the other day.

I did go on divisions twice this week though.  One time here in Siqueira with Elder Christensen and another time in Atalia with one of the zone leaders, Elder Roberto.

With Elder Christensen we taught a lot of people that day and we had a really awesome lesson with one of our investigators Laercio.  He was the man who came up to us on the street and told us to come to his house and teach him our message.  We taught him the plan of salvation, but it was more like he was teaching himself.  Whenever we would bring up a doctrine that would be kind of weird to other christian denominations (Spirit World, Degrees of Glory, etc.) he would confirm our doctrine  with bible references, so that was pretty cool.  We then ran into this one guy that Elder Godoy always seems to run into.  I can't remember his name, but he is a less active member and he always has some request from us that escalates every time we run into him.  It started off with him wanting fish and lettuce, which seemed like a reasonable request, to shampoo, to getting the bishop to perform a marriage for him, to 600 reais for college.  So we laid down the law with him and told him that if he wants blessings he's got to work for them and has to be obedient to the laws and not expect us to pay for his college.

Divisions with Elder Roberto went over pretty well.  He's from São Paulo and he speaks English very well.  He's very nice and funny and we had a good time up in Atalia.  I was a little disappointed though, they have monkeys up in that area and I didn't see one.  So naturally, there was much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Rain in Atalia.
Tried another fruit called Acerola.  It's another fruit you can't eat, but can be turned into juice.  It's really good and they look like little cherries.

Soooo...that's about it for this week.  Sorry I don't have a lot to talk about, but I will say to you Dad, you were right about how interesting people make the mission amazing!  Whether it be a drunken man wanting to know about my escapades with Brazilian women (which I have had none of Mom) or our awesome investigators/converts and their amazing stories and testimonies.  I truly am loving it down here and the work is going strong.  I will leave you with a scripture that helps me whenever I'm feeling down.

2 Kings 2:23-24

23  And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
24  And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord.  And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.

(Once again my son's sense of humor comes shining through.)

Some interesting things we learned from Tanner during our Skype call.

1.  I asked where he gets his hair cut and he told us a crazy Brazilian down the street cuts his hair.  He uses a straight razor to shave the back of his neck, which terrifies him.

2.  He says he has to be on the alert for "snakes".  Snakes being Brazilian women who want him to take them back home with him to the US.  He tries to avoid eye contact at all costs.

3.  The Portuguese language comes from Latin and is one of the oldest speaking languages.  It is considered a Romance Language and has influences from Spanish, French, and Italian languages.  Because of those influences he can understand a little of those other languages.  Also, it is easier for a Portugese speaker to understand Spanish than for a Spanish speaker to understand Portuguese.

4.  His foot is finally all healed.  Yea!

5.  They have enough members to have wards and stakes.

6.  He bears his testimony a lot in sacrament meetings.

7.  He's only received one package that I have mailed to him (I've sent three).

8.  He doesn't really crave anything, expect reading material.  

This is my Brazilian missionary tan along with the required mosquito bites.

Monday, May 6, 2013


This is a terrible painting at this bakery near our house.  I thought it was funny.

So, this week will probably be kind of long so sorry if it's boring and what not.

The world decided to play the music I use to listen to everywhere!!  So that was frustrating.  I'd be walking down the road and somebody would be playing a song from a band I use to love and that makes things frustrating and fills me with boiling rage.

Speaking of rage, we have this one investigator, she is kind of older.  We were talking with her one day and we asked her who she'd like to give the prayer.  She said she'd like my companion to give the prayer because she could actually understand him and that it was hard for her to understand me.  REALLY LADY?  I'm so sorry to inconvenience you with my gringo Portuguese!!  I'm sorry it's so hard to not understand what I'm saying.  Needless to say, I was not too happy with her and in all honesty it is probably a stupid reason to be mad.  I put down the folding chair I was about to throw out of rage and continued on with the lesson.

On a brighter side, I saw a guy walking his lizard the other day.  He had a leash and everything and was walking down the road like it wasn't weird or anything.

We also had a rat in the house this week.  Whenever we have rats we don't get traps, everyone goes into battle mode and starts chasing it around the house until someone either stomps on it or beats it to death.  We killed the rat and fed it to whatever lives in our backyard.

People also name their cats weird things down here.  In the US you name cats like Fluffy, Cotton, or Angel of Death, you know something cute.  Here they give their cats legit people names like Tiago (James in Portuguese) or Fransisco, or João.

I went on divisions with another Elder in our district this week.  I went up to his area in Eduardo Gomes and it went well.  We talked about American things and drank Chimarrão.  Chimarrão is this tea stuff from the south of Brazil and they take this plant, mash it up, and you drink it with hot water out of this bong like thing called a Cuia.  And no it's not weed.  It tastes really earthy and it's kind of addicting.

Here's kind of a religious background of Brazil.  The main church is the Catholic church and about 50% of everyone here is Catholic or they say their Catholic and don't go to church ever.  They also have churches called Evangelica, which is every Protestant denomination and every other random preacher here.  They usually hold meetings in house type things and there is usually a lot of shouting.  There is also Espirita churches, which means they worship spirits and they're crazy!  They have these guys called prophets and you can go and talk with them and they can talk of your dead grandma or something like that.  The weird thing is, is that they could tell you everything about your dead grandma perfectly and they go in knowing nothing about you.  It makes you wonder who is telling them things.

So this week church was awesome.  We had a lot of investigators there and a less active!  #ChurchGetsMeSoPumped  And some of the investigators that came were people we thought would never come so that was pretty neat.  We also got a letter from our other recent convert, Maria José, and she shared her testimony with us which was awesome!  I kind of had my doubts with her and didn't know if she was converted to the gospel or to us, but that letter got rid of any doubts.  We also had another baptism this week for Maria Rita, who is our new recent convert.  She's a daughter of this family we visit and I had the opportunity of performing it!  I also love giving priesthood blessings.  There was this one lady we went to see and she was pretty sick so we gave her a blessing.  I love giving them because I feel amazing and I swear I actually feel physically different.  So this week was amazing and the spirit was so strong.  The church is true and I can't wait to talk to you Sunday!!!

- Tanner

This is inside the yard of the slaughter house.  I found this pile of dirt to stand on
and took a picture.  There are always kids or garbage men standing on this pile of
dirt looking inside, apparently they think it's weird too.