Monday, September 23, 2013

E aconteceu que Eu terei uma outra transferência aqui em Viçosa‏.

(And it happened that I'll have another transfer here in Viçosa.)


Well it is now another transfer here in lovely green Viçosa and things are going great.  I have a new companion and his name is Elder Denna and he's from Sacramento (1st American companion).  I am also ending his missionary life too.  He's on his last transfer and we're going hard in the paint!!!!  Like seriously, really really hard in the paint.  We taught 17 lessons this last week and two of those days we spent in Maceió.  He's showing me a lot of cool techniques n stuff so it's been a pretty good transfer so far!

So this last week we had a Serão (Fireside) for our branch about member missionary work.  We divided the Serão into four different trainings and themes.  My job was to be the guy who gets everybody excited.  I played a video from the Work of Salvation broadcast and talked about the impact members really have on the work.  I feel like it worked pretty well because we had a member ask for five copies of the Book of Mormon, some old pass along cards, and some pamphlets he can give to people.  Needless to say I'm not going to complain.

So this week I feel like I broke through a spiritual barrier, I RECEIVED REVELATION!!!!!!!!  #WINNING  So personal revelation has always been a hard subject for me, not because I don't agree with it or anything, but that I feel like I just don't get any.  I've had other experiences with revelation that was more of a IKnewItWasRevelationInHindSightKindOfAThing, but I never really had a IFeltTheSpiritTellMeToTalkToThisGuySoIDidAndItTurnedOurHesBeenWaitingForeverToHearTheGospelSoWeBaptizedHimKindOfAThing.  So I was walking down the road the other day, marveling at the greenness and shear beauty of my surroundings when I had this strange feeling to talk to some old guy in the road.  I ignored it at first because I thought he looked crazy and would only say crazy things to me and I'd be wasting my time.  BUT on the return trip I saw the same guy and thought, "Well maybe he really wont be crazy and he'll actually want to go to church." 

I was very wrong.


ME: Hey! How's it going?


ME:  ... Sorry what?


ME:  Sister Lima?


ME:  Sister Lima…


ME:  Sister Liiiiiima.


ME:  Who's Sister Lima?

CRAZY OL MAN:  I'm Sister Lima!!!

ME:  You're Sister Lima?


So it turned out that crazy ol man was Sister Lima.  I talked with Sister Lima for quite some time and it turned out he really was crazy and our conversation was going nowhere.  But what did go somewhere was the little girl who stopped to listen to our conversation.  I distracted Sister Lima by talking about his beliefs while my companion asked the girl if her family was interested in listening to us.  She said yes, so I bid farewell to Sister Lima, who pointed to the girl's house and we talked to her family.  Turns out her family had previously met with the missionaries and they loved us!!!  We had the matriarch give the prayer and she started to cry and said she knew our church to be true.  After the lesson I felt very pleased with myself.  FINALLY I had a revelation/impression experience, so I made sure to give extra thanks in my prayers that night.

That's about for today; sorry it isn't a whole lot.  For your information mom, we live above a bar, or at least that's what I think it is.  The guy who always chills in the house below us has lots of pictures of beer and is always drinking/breaking open coconuts.  Nobody is ever there, just him, so I don't know if it's just a guy who is really fond of his barley based liquor, or if he's really terrible at running a bar.

Well, that's it, bye!!!

-Elder Johnson

(Love ya mom and sorry for the lack of pictures this week.  Love you guys!)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Killing My Companion

Tchau Elder Araujo!!!  #Selfies

So today was the day I killed Elder Araujo.  He's now off to good ole São Paulo.  He was a really great companion and I learned a lot from him.  We received word about the next transfer and I'm staying here in Viçosa for another six weeks!!  

Speaking of killing, I saw a Nordestino (Northeast) funeral procession the other day.  It was a bit strange.  They had one of those cars with the huge speakers on top of them playing strange Catholic music while people pushed the casket on a cart that you'd find in a cafeteria.  There were a lot of people walking behind the car too following the casket to the cemetery, it was rather odd.

One thing they like to do here in the interior is sell things on the streets.  Not like the usual street vendors selling pastéis (pastry) and coxinhas (drumsticks), but people who sell things out of the back of cars and bikes.  There's this one guy who comes by every morning at 6:30 (he's become our alarm clock) and he likes to yell "Seu Leite Irmão!!!!" (Milk Your Brother!!!)  He hooks this huge container of milk onto the back of his motorcycle and sells it in the mornings.  The thing is though, it's fresh milk, like really fresh, like it came out of the cow about a half an hour before he showed up fresh.  So you have to boil the milk first to get rid of all the bacterial goodness before you can drink it.

I've also seen people sell bread with huge trays and baskets of breads attached to bicycles.  It really is impressive that they can go anywhere with these huge metal contraptions hooked on top of their tiny bikes.  There also was a truck that likes to drive around the Feira (Fair) selling 4 chickens for 15 Reais, which if you did not know, IS A BARGAIN!!!!!!  The thing is though, they're still squawking when they sell them to you and we have no place to put live chickens in our house or any knowledge of butchering so that idea went out the window.  Oh and there's also a man who sells fine cheeses out of the trunk of his car.

Always something new that happens here.

Church this week was interesting too.  There’s this one guy, lets call him João, that's a pretty vague Brazilian name.  He once held a pretty high leadership position in the church at one time, but has since left the church so now he makes a hobby of coming to church every now and then and making things difficult.  To kind of give you a picture of this guy he has curly white hair, a booming voice, and wore a white T-shirt that had a quote by himself to church.  The lesson this week in Gospel Principles was on the role of the family.  He quickly liked to share his opinion, which is it is necessary to beat your kid in order to teach said innocent child respect. Which the church, myself, the Elder giving the class, a recent convert, and probably most governments and civilized people, would consider to be wrong.  His argument was Jesus beat the people who were selling stuff inside the Temple, therefore we must beat our children.  #Genius.  The class then turned into us arguing with him and his friend who he brought to church over the matter.  In the end our recent convert friend, who is probably one of the nicest and kindest ladies I've ever met, told him off and that he was completely wrong, in the nicest and kindest way I've ever seen.

There's always something interesting that happens here.

Our friend didn't stick around for sacrament meeting, but before he left I told him that the unique thing about the gospel is that it invites us to change.  He then told me I was too young to know such a thing, that he can never change, and that religion never has the power to heal anyone.  He was right about one thing, I am rather young, but that doesn't mean I don't know what's true.  I've seen the power of this gospel and if there is one thing I know to be true it is that people can change if they want to.  I've seen if first hand.  I know that the Atonement is real; it's worked for me and millions of other people.  It just comes down to the fact that some people just don't want to change, even when they know what's right.  God could be staring them in the face and tell them what is true and they would just be perfectly happy staying where they are.  There are people, that during lessons when it gets to a really spiritual point, ignore the spirit they are feeling and try to distance themselves from it.  That really doesn't make sense to me, but I guess some people just don't want to work for their own salvation.

But I've also seen those people who have worked for the well being of their own soul, made clean in Christ, and I can testify that it is worth it.  They become new people.  They smile more and are free from whatever it was in their past that kept them from progressing. This church, this gospel, and everything they encompass I know to be true.  
Last day with Elder Araujo.  This is a family in our branch and they're super cool.

I guess that's about it for this week.  I'll be down here preaching the gospel and buying bread from strange people on bicycles.


- Elder Johnson

Reunião do distrito.

Nossa Casa  (our home).

Look at this weird pineapple I bought the other day!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Brothers Are Going to Liberate

It was a pretty good week.  I've found that the week following a baptism is usually a bit difficult.  We've kind of hit a dry spell, but we recently found some pretty cool investigators.  So I guess the work is hastening, slowly, but it is hastening!!!

Something interesting I learned this week is that there are a group of people called "Pessoas Sem Terra."  Usually in the cities the really poor people live inside Favelas or Grotas, which are like slums built on hills.  Here in the lovely interior they don't really exist.  Instead they have Pessoas Sem Terra.  They're usually people who are super poor and don't have anything.  So what they do is form a band of poor people and invade some land, usually on the side of a hill, and build shacks out of wood and plastic tarps.  They then start to farm on these hills and sell the food to make money.  The thing is, it's not very legal and they have their own laws and weapons.  We don't talk to them because it's not a very effective use of our time, but you can see them on the side of hills and stuff.  
The restaurant we ate at in Maceió.  It has a lovely view of the Grota!

So the other day we were returning from Maceió to Viçosa, because we had a meeting, when the bus we were on pulled over and turned off its engine.  The bus driver got out and there were a ton of cars and people on the road, all stopped for about two miles.  We got out and we saw that there was a fire up the road and a ton of people were surrounding it.  We, like the helpful little missionaries we are, decided that we would go help out the problem and provide blessings to those who needed it.
Chaos in the road.

We set off down the road with our stuff and a banner with Jesus on the front (we needed the banner for a future activity) not knowing what kind of adventure would await us.  We got lots of comments from people on the road like, "The Brothers are going to liberate!!!!" and "Ya, you wave that banner of Jesus!!  Liberate!!!"  When we got closer to the fire, about a kilometer (yes I think in metric now) away from the fire, one of the onlookers said that a bunch of Pessoas Sem Terra built this fire in the middle of the road and made a blockade so nobody could pass by.  We then turned around realizing that it probably wasn't the best idea to get involved and we headed back to the bus.  The hardcore police showed up and they started their negotiations with the Pessoas Sem Terra.  We waited for about three hours and it was starting to get dark by the time all the commotion ended.  When it all cleared up one guy shouted at us as he was driving away, "See I told you the Brothers were going to liberate!!!"  Nothing really happened, nobody was hurt, but it sure was eventful.
Gonna liberate!

I also finally saw Capueira for the very first time.  Capueira is Brazilian martial arts that resembles an African style of dance.  When the Portuguese came over to Brazil they brought lots of slaves with them and they developed this style of fighting.  It's really cool looking filled with lots of flips and kicking really high into the air.  They also use colored rope cords for belts, which is pretty cool.  A gang of them were doing it in the park close to our house so we stopped to watch for a bit.  There's lots of bongo drums and strange instruments.  Pretty cool.

Went and visited another waterfall today.

They've got these weird looking cows everywhere.
A flower for mommy.
Serenity  (lol)

I also had the opportunity to give the lesson in Elders Quorum yesterday.  And by Elders Quorum I mean the missionaries, the branch president, and an investigator.  I talked about the blessings of the priesthood and I felt I did really well.

Hope you all are doing well, love you all, and have a great week.

- Elder Johnson

I buy a lot of fruit now.

Yep, me and Elder Rutledge again.

Monday, September 2, 2013

It Was Glorious

SELFIES!!!  Elder Rutledge, Elder Jung (my MTC companion), and I looking at our own respective cameras.

Hi mommy.

We had Zone Conference this week, which was pretty legit.  We had to catch a bus at about 6:00 am to get to Maceió before the meeting started at 9:00 am.  We ended up taking this van thing that they use to ship people from the interior to the capitol and it sure was different.  Once you get into the city people can flag down the van, pay two Reais, and I think they'll drop you off anywhere in the city you ask.  I don't know, it's kind of a confusing concept.  Anyways, once it gets into the city EVERYONE decides to use this van it was PACKED! It was more packed than any other bus I've ever taken down here and it sure drove a lot faster.  It was a miracle that the van did not tip over.  I don't know how it didn't, but it survived.  After flying down the streets of Maceió (that includes the unpaved dirt shoulder or the road and sidewalk, which the driver thought was a good idea) we arrived at the Farol Chapel.

Zone Conference was over all a great experience.  President and Sister Gonzaga emphasized the importance of working with members along with improving our baptismal services to make them more spiritual.  We also talked a lot about the Restoration along with the importance of maintaining our testimony.  A jolly ole time if I do say so myself.

Getting back from Zone Conference on the other hand was less jolly.  We had to catch a bus that left at 6:15 pm and we left the chapel at about 5:50 pm and we had to walk all the way to the bus station.  We also had all of our bags, new things for our house, and packages to carry back.  The bust station is a bit of a distance away too so we started walking fast and then we started to run.  Over the Grota we ran, we sprinted up the hill, and bought our tickets just in time to catch the bus.  When we got there we learned that it was delayed for about half an hour so our epic sprint was in vain.  Nevertheless, it was glorious!!!  We ran all the way there with each of us carrying about 20 pounds of assorted packages, copies of Book of Mormons, pots, pans, and little towels.  When we got there an out of breath missionary told me, "That was epic."

And epic it was...

Also this week we had the baptism of our good friend Maciel!!!  He's 15 years old and is a really cool guy.  Elder Arajuo baptized him and it was a really good meeting.  Maciel and his cousin were talking about serving missions the other day so that made me really happy.

The work is going really well down here in good ole Viçosa Alagoas and I'm loving every minute of it.  Hope all is well back home.  I'll be down here crying repentance and riding sketchy vans.

- Elder Johnson e Johnson
(My other nickname they like to call me down here.)