Monday, June 24, 2013

São João

So this week we were able to experience the lovely traditional celebration of São João.  I'm still not quite sure what it is, but from my understanding there was a guy named São João and he knew a lot about the Bible.  So therefore, everyone dressed up like Hispanic cowboys, danced, listened to Forró (which is like Brazilian folk music and they like to make Forró versions of popular songs like "Umbrella" by Rhianna), make terrible food out of corn and peanuts, and blow up things in the streets.  The church put on a São João party and let me tell you, church parties down here aren't like church parties in the states - they are PARTIES.  Everyone was dancing, singing, eating the abominable São João food, and all in all having a splendid time.  With São João though the streets are a bit more dangerous.  Not because we'll get robbed or anything like that, but because of all of the fireworks.

Fireworks down here aren't like they are back in the states.  In the states they shoot colorful sparks and everyone says "Ooohhh pretty!" Here they're more like bombs and shoot fire and rain death upon the people.  It's so scary.  And the bombs here aren't like the cute little M80's back home either.  They resemble more of what you see in footage of Afghanistan and the next Michael Bay movie.  They have these kind of fireworks called "busca pés", which translates to "feet searcher."  You always hear stories down here about missionaries walking around and kids see them and yell, "Oi! Mormons!!!" and then throw busca pés at them.  I swear you walk outside and everything is exploding, people are blasting music, and lighting fires in the streets.

Brazil man...

So to answer your questions mom:

1.  I chose the São Paulo futebol team because they're the "Tricampeão do mundo" (Champion of the world).  They're a really good team, pretty solid, and a pretty safe bet.  You have to choose a Brazilian futebol club down here so no your favorite team England's Manchester United wouldn't play out too well.  You generally don't want to choose a team from Sergipe or Alagoas because they're terrible.  There are about four or five teams based in São Paulo and they're generally better teams so everyone usually picks one of them.

2.  I do in fact know Elder Jensen.  He is my Zone Leader and he's a pretty funny guy.

3.  The ocean is a pretty far distance away from where I am and the ocean in Sergipe isn't generally an ocean you want to brag about.  The best one is up in Maceió and man is it beautiful.

4.  It generally isn't too weird giving advice to older people about not drinking and getting married.  They usually don't act too prideful about it and they know that they should get married and stop drinking.  They just don't do what we tell them to do.  It's a lot weirder when you have to tell two 14 year olds that they have to get married and can't live together.

5.  Ha ha - thanks for the update on Kim Kardashian and Kane West's new baby.  I was dying to know what they were going to name it.

6.  I'll be sure to send more pictures of my area before I eventually leave.

We got transfer calls last night and Elder Godoy is being sent up into Alagoas and I'm staying here in Siqueira Campos for the 4th transfer, which should be fun.  I'll be getting a new companion tomorrow so more on that next episode.

So a few really awesome things this week.

We talked to some of our recent converts and it's amazing to hear how much this gospel has changed them.  Marcio was talking to us and said how his life has changed for the better and how he can't wait to buy a brand new wheelchair for his dad so he can take him to church.  We also talked with Maria José and she's way excited to go up to Recife and do baptisms for the dead for her son that died. She also said how much her life has bettered and what a blessing tithing is in her life.

We also had lunch with a member yesterday and what she said really touched me.  She had a son who served a mission down in Curitiba and when he came back he died saving a kid from drowning in a river.  She is always one of our favorite lunches and always makes amazing deserts for us.  We were talking about how we were always excited to eat with her and she said something along the lines of, "I always try to do my best when the missionaries come over for lunch.  I know what I have isn't a lot, but I always love to try.  I know how I felt when my son served a mission and I know how I would have wanted the members to treat him so I always try to do my best for the missionaries."  She then told us about how much this work means to her and how much it has blessed her life.  She gave the closing prayer and she started to cry while thanking Heavenly Father for the opportunity her son had to serve a mission and for  the blessing the missionaries are in her life.  I sometimes forget about how much this work means and what a difference it makes in peoples lives.  Because most of the time we always get answers like, "I'm already baptized" or "Read the Bible and stop believing in this crap" and "Would you defend the Indians!?"  But every now and then there are people like Marcio, Maria José, and the member we had lunch with who's lives have been so blessed by this work and that's what makes it all worth it.

Anyways, that's about it for this week.  Love you all!!!  And have a great week!!!


Elder Johnson

Monday, June 17, 2013

Life in Brazil

I hope you all had a wonderful "Dia dos Namorados!!" (Day of the Boyfriends) this week.  I sure know it was a hoot down here.

Last week for Pday we celebrated Elder Godoy's 23rd birthday!!!  We had some cake and had a wonderful time!!!
Feliz Aniversário Elder Godoy!!!
Our candles  #MissionaryStyle

Last week I had to give a talk in church.  I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't a tad bit nervous.  My Portuguese still isn't 100% and they told me I had to give one about 30 minutes before I went to bed so that was cool.  Anyways, I gave it on charity and everyone said I did well, but I just think they were trying to be nice.

So yes mom, I know I've gotten pretty skinny, and no I'm not starving myself.  I in fact eat a lot of bread and I'm trying to eat a lot.  This is just what Brazil does to you.  Sister Gonzaga would agree with you.  She saw me the other day and asked me if the members aren't feeding us.  They in fact are and she too told me to eat more.

Transfers are coming up this next week and we should be getting the call this Sunday.  I think they're going to send me up into Sin City (Maceió) this next transfer.

Also, more clarification about "Snakes" (aka girls hunting men).  They don't necessarily want you to marry them and take them back to the states.  They want...other things.  They go after the Brazilians too not just Americans.  My companion described it to me as, "There are three fantasies for women here:  1. Gangsters  2. Firefighters   3. Mormon Missionaries."  So we have to be careful so we don't let anything endanger our mission and our salvation at the same time.  As I always say, "A picture a day keeps the snakes away."

So there is one thing down here that can bring the work to a halt, that can divide companions, divides the mission, and makes everything a lot more difficult than it really needs to be.


Down here, it is a very serious sport and you have to have a team.  Everybody asks you who your team is and you have to pick carefully.  I have chosen to align myself with São Paulo Futebol Club, and it has caused quite a stir.  The missionaries are always debating about teams, and tournaments, and what not; and it's not just the Brazilians, but the Americans get into it too.  It makes things a lot more lively down here and it gives you something to connect with the members and investigators.  I also believe there is something in the water that just makes you love Futebol.  You just get really into it down here and think it's the best thing in the world.
My brand new SPFC notebook.

Saturday was a really weird day.

We started off by going contacting and I was about to knock on this door when Elder Godoy stopped me and told me to got to the next house.  This house had a bunch a weird writing on it and also had a bunch of crazy statues and idol things in there.  He later told me it was Macumba, which is kind of like voodoo/black magic down here and they don't like Christians at all.  There's one area in the mission where you can't go down a certain road after dark because it's just filled with Macumba.  I was able to write down later what the writing on the house said and it feels really weird to read.  Like really weird.

Later that day we were walking down the road and this dirty man and his friend came up to us and asked us if we wanted to buy some hair clippers.  He said it was brand new, he showed us it, and it was very nice, which means it was obviously stolen and he was trying to fence it.  We politely told him no and got out of there and we ended up in a kind of sketchy part of town where there is usually a lot of drugs on the weekend.  A member then pulled up out of nowhere and offered us a ride to our next appointment.  Later we were walking down the road trying to find a potential's house, which according to our address did not exist.  We were about to turn back when the potential pulled up in his car and we were able to set something up with him.

So something that was also pretty sad happened yesterday.  A few weeks back we were teaching this man and his family and they were progressing really well.  He told us his story about how he used to live on the street and how through God he was able to turn his life around.  He was accepting the gospel very well and we were trying to get him and his wife married.  He then started acting weirder and we noticed that he started drinking quite a bit.  We came back a few days later and discovered that he had gotten drunk, beat his wife, and was then in prison.  We tried to console his wife and make things better.  We passed by a few days later and no one was home.  We kept trying and trying but no luck, so unfortunately, we had to cut them.  Then yesterday we were walking to church when Elder Godoy walks down the wrong street.  I follow him and we find this guy and his family living on the street again.  We talked to him and he just wasn't all that there and just had no more desire for the church.  He asked us for money, but we can't give money to beggars because they'll just spend it on drugs or they might be faking it.  I just remember seeing him, his wife, and his three little kids sitting under this metal awning thing and I felt so bad for them.  I couldn't stop thinking about this guy all day and wondering if there was anything I could do for him.  In the end all we missionaries can do is invited people to change their life, everyone has their agency here and they can do what they will with it.  I just feel so bad for him, his wife, and his three kids.  They don't deserve to live like that.

So I think I'll end this letter on a lighter note.  We were knocking doors the other day when this dog ran up and tried to bite me.  I was about to end the creature, with fire and brimstone, when his owner came up and the following conversation ensued:

US:    Hey!  Is everything going well?
MAN:    No!  Everything is not well because you're at my door!!!
US:    Oh, we're sorry.
MAN:    No you're not!!!  You just want to bring me to the United States!!!
US:    No we're missionaries for the church.
MAN:    Yeah in America!!!
GODOY:    Um... I'm Brazilian.
MAN:    Yeah and you're working for them!!!
US:    All right, have a good day.
US:    The what?
MAN:    You heard me, the Indians!!!!  WOULD YOU DEFEND THE INDIANS!!!!!!!??????
US:    All right, see ya.

Love ya and have a great week!!!  Abraços,

Elder Johnson

So before any of you go JUDGING ME, you've got to understand it's a bit different down here.  There is no
 controversy whether Coke  is against the Word of Wisdom or if it's not.  Of course it's not!!!  Where does it
say in the Doctrine & Covenants you can't drink Coke.  The Word of Wisdom pamphlet also makes it very
clear that it's only: tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, coffee, and black tea (I'm not sure if that's what you call
 it in English, that's just what it's called in Portuguese).  So there you go.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Brazil man...

This is the baptism of Vivaldo this past week.  The YM's President baptized him (he knows English and is hilarious!)
 We should hopefully have another baptism this upcoming week.  (Comment from his Mom: Look how thin Tanner is!!)

I'd like to start off by saying that children's TV down here is down right horrifying!!  Whenever we go over to a member's house for lunch they're always watching it and it's hard to look away.  They really like clowns down here.  They have a show called "Patati Patatá", which is about these two clowns and it's pretty scary and all of the kids here love it.  I thought that was the end of the childhood trauma, but I was sorely mistaken when the other day they had Bozo The Clown.  He in fact looked nothing like Bozo The Clown and appeared more like a serial killer with terrible clown make up.  He was assisted by his oddly shaped friend, Cigarette Steve!  He sounded like an 80-year-old lady who has smoked since she was 12.

Brazil man...

And on another exciting note I almost saw a woman die the other day.  We were at the bus station (the bus is always an adventure down here) and usually whenever a bus arrives everybody storms it and fights to get on.  This lady got too excited and ran out into the road and smacked right into the side of the still moving bus.  There was lots of screaming joined with my companion saying "doideira!" (madness!)

So in actual news this week is that there really isn't a whole lot of news.  I was sick for about three days and I couldn't do a whole lot.  I started to feel sick last Pday and was feeling pain in my abs (Too many sit ups.  Am I right?  #Winning)  I told Elder Godoy and he said that I might have Dengue.  I found that to be rather unfortunate so I called Sister Gonzaga and she had me take some medicine and go visit the hospital.  You don't go to a doctor's office here like in the states.  You go and see the doctor in the hospital.  So I went to the great and abominable hospital, who's founder is the devil and is the harlot of all the earth, and they said I had an "infecção" and lucky for me, not Dengue.  So they gave me about five pounds worth of pills to take (I only needed to take like two pills a day for about a week) and I had to rest for about a day.  Being sick on the mission is the worst.  You can't do anything and the days go by really slow.  I am feeling a lot better now and we had a baptism this Saturday, which was pretty awesome.
As I said I was sick this past week and so Elder Godoy went out and saw some of our investigators with Elder Hurst.
  Two of our investigators asked where I was and he told them I was sick.  They found out where we lived and dropped
 by and gave me this plant!!   Apparently I was suppose to make it into tea or something and it should've helped me
out. Elder Izqueirdo and Elder Godoy said they've never seen this plant like this and that I have  to let it dry
for a week or two before making it into tea or it might kill me.  BRAZIL!!!!!

So the people here always do the same thing whenever they meet me.  They usually assume I'm Brazilian until they either:

A.  Hear my gringo accent, or
B.  Look at my name tag and make a funny face while trying to pronounce my name.

They then look at me and say, "Você não tá Brasileiro?" (You're not Brazilian?)  I then respond no and then they ask me if I am any of the following:

American  (the most common answer)
and one time they asked me if I was American and if I spoke Chinese.

Brazil man...

Anyways, that's about it for the week.  I'm going to go ride the bus!

Abracaos (hugs),


This is a reality here in Brazil.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Brazilian Hospitals Are Crazy

A selfie with Elder Munger for his birthday.

This week I taught John Lennon.  John Lennon is the son of one of our investigators and he has a pretty sick name.

Last Pday we went to the aquarium they have here with about half of our zone.  It was pretty cool.  I hung around Elder Munger (from the MTC) and we got to hold starfish and stuff so that was pretty cool.
Yes mom to answer your question I have lost weight.  Lots of sweating, walking, sweating, walking.  My calves are beautiful by the way and you don't need to send me new clothes.

So we went to the hospital this week (no, not for me) and that was probably the craziest thing I've seen here.  They don't have rooms for people here; they just have stretcher type beds everywhere.  There were about 100 people packing into the "trauma ward", which was about 60ftX60ft and it was crazy.  There were injured people everywhere and people who weren't doctors were helping them with medical care.  There were preachers walking around passing out advertisements for their churches.  The preachers would also "bless" people too, which consisted of them putting a hand on the head of the injured person and start shaking and rebuking said ailment.  There was vomit on the floor, lots of crying, and I felt like:

A.  A hoard of zombies were going to come barreling in and begin feasting.
B.  I just survived some natural disaster and FEMA had set up a hospital in a dirty school.
C.  That this would be so illegal back home.

My Brazilian companion Elder Godoy thought it was crazy too.  He told me it's not like this in southern Brazil and that they have rooms and legit healthcare down there.  This was by far the most shocking experience I've had while I've been here.  We did run into a member there.  We were just about to leave when a member grabbed us and told us to go talk to her husband.  Her husband was in a motorcycle crash and I didn't recognized him at first because of the wounds on his face.  We prayed with him and then afterward we talked with the bishop about having a ward fast.

So the JW's are stepping their game up and they've been running wild down here.  They talked to one of our investigators and gave her the book "What does the Bible really teach?"  She wasn't too happy with them.  She said they showed up and started condemning every one else's religion and didn't say a lot of nice things.  We had to set some doctrine straight with her and took the book to keep it from damaging our investigator.  When we were talking with her she told us they didn't act very missionary like and said, "They didn't pray!  What kind of missionary doesn't even pray?"

So that's about it for this week until next time!

- Tanner

I finally decorated my room with posters you sent me.
Behold the Maracajuá.
Behold the inside of the Maracujá.
Behold the juice I made out of the Maracujá.
So this is Acai Na Tigela.  It's a fruit called Acai mashed up and mixed with other fruits
 (it's the fruit in the middle) and it's globbing cold!!  This stuff gets you so amped though.
 Maracujá puts you to sleep, but this stuff gets you pumped.  You're ready to go baptize
 after you eat it.  You don't have to worry about eating it before bed either because
 it gives you energy to sleeping and you globbing sleep hard!!!!