Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Last Week In Viçosa

Our Zone T-shirt.  I'm a bit hard to find.  I have white hair in this photo and standing next to the sweating guy.
 Guess which one is Elder Rutledge?

I got the news last night that I'm getting transferred so that'll be exciting.  Five Reais to anybody who guesses my next area correctly. I'm going to miss Viçosa because I sure learned a whole lot here and grew a ton.

So I was asked if I already have had children by some lady this week.  I told her that I was 20 and that I'm not allowed to have children until after my mission.  She then asked me why I wanted to be an old dad. Yep....

Oh the abomination of the week goes out to the 14 year old girl we talked to who has a boyfriend who is 23.  We asked her if she found it to be the least bit strange and she answered no.

There's also a church really close to our house that likes to sing a lot of our hymns.  I understand hymns like "I Need Thee Every Hour" and "Nearer My God To Thee", but they were singing "Come, Come Ye Saints" yesterday and I have no idea as to how it pertains to their religion.  I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if they were to sing "If You Could Hie To Kolob" in their next meeting.

I was called out of nowhere during this week’s sacrament meeting to give the first talk after the opening hymn which was loads of fun. I said a quick prayer and gave a little talk on the Sacrament, which I felt went over pretty well! So that's my tender mercy of the week!

So we had some baptisms this week!  The first we held at 2:00 in the afternoon for our investigators/recent converts Valeria e Veríssimo!  They're awesome!  We found them while searching for less actives and they accepted everything, could repeat doctrine, volunteered to pray, and even made their own baptismal meeting invites.  We had to baptize Valeria twice because she didn't go all the way down the first time, but the second time she said she felt so good and she just left the font all happy and smiling.

We then held the next baptismal meeting at 9:00 in the afternoon for our investigator Neto.  We planned to baptize him at 7:00, but we had some issues come up so we had to delay a little bit.  He's really cool; he lives in another city but attends church here because it's the closest one to him.  When we first talked with him he'd already read a substantial amount of the Book of Mormon.  When we taught him the Word of Wisdom, we asked him what things he thought God wouldn't want us to drink or smoke and the first thing he said was coffee!  Yeah he's really cool.  It was an amazing baptism and just listening to him talk about how he felt afterwards was absolutely awesome!  The branch out here is growing and it makes me so excited to see where it will go in the future.
The baptism of Neto.  He was baptized by his nephew who just became a Priest that same week.

Well that's it for now, I've got to find out where my next area is and get a new companion.  Tchau! 

Elder Johnson

Bye Companion!

Die Companion!

Monday, October 21, 2013

I'm 20 Now, That's Pretty Weird.

Birthday wishes to Elder Johnson from all around the world from family & friends.
Utah, France, New Hampshire, Hong Kong, Arizona, Peru, California, Massachusetts, Africa, Disneyland, Brazil

Well t'was a pretty good week with the work and all.  We found some new people, lost some old people, got yelled at by apostates, you know, the usual same old same old. Really there isn't much to talk about this week.  We really just had a pretty normal week.  We have some investigators getting ready for baptism this week, so hopefully they will be baptized this Saturday.  One thing that was pretty interesting was that we got to go to Maceió to pick some stuff up at the mission office, and yeah.... that's really it.  Next week is transfers so that'll be cool and I'll be ending my companions life too.


Oh, and it was my birthday too.

So I guess I'm 20 now, that's pretty weird.  I feel like I should be more mature and responsible than I really am, but I guess that'll come more with time.  With all the self-restraint I could muster I didn't open your birthday package until yesterday night so  that was a whole lot of self control right there.  I really enjoyed the package filled with beautiful ties, music, cards, (my companion got a real kick out of the card that Adam and Emily sent,) and all sorts of frivolity.  I especially liked the t-shirts you sent me.  I kind of forget all about my love for geek culture shirts and so that was a good reminder.  I was also very impressed with the photo album of pictures you sent me, very creative.  You managed to get all my family and friends to take those pictures holding happy birthday signs to me so that was really cool, I liked it a lot.  It looks like you all haven't changed too much.  I liked the recorder with everyone wishing me happy birthday.  Riley has a super deep voice now, which was weird.  Overall it was a really good day.  I went to church, taught the Elder's Quorum lesson, and then I got to go help out in the Primary for the next hour because the primary teacher traveled over the weekend.  That was loads of fun with all of the little kids.  I also managed to cry some repentance and get some good old fashioned gospel preachin' in too.  President and Sister Gonzaga even called to wish me a happy birthday. I just want to say thanks for the package and for all of the effort you went through to send it and all the work you put into it.  It was a really great blessing and it made me very happy.  It made me think of how blessed I am and for everything my Father in Heaven has done for me.  He gave me everything, a loving family, millions of other blessings, and I just sat back and thought about how good my life is.  I'm so thankful for the gospel in my life and for the amazing blessing it is.  I'm thankful for my Savior and for his Atonement.  Yesterday was just a day of thanks, and I'm honored to be here serving the people of Viçosa on my birthday.  Thanks again for everything you've done and I hope you all had a good time eating my birthday cake... without me... JK LULZ.  I hope all is well back home.  Make sure to thank the family for the presents and cards.  Love you and have an amazing week!

Elder Johnson

P.S.  Thanks to anyone who had something to do with that package.

P.P.S. Now please stop sending me expensive packages.

P.P.P.S.  Thanks again family.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Good Times...


Well this has been a week of some very interesting people.

First – there was a man who worked for an art school that we wanted to go do service at.  This was his explanation of the school: "This is an art school, we study guitar, keyboard, trumpet, and Jiu Jitsu."  Where Jiu Jitsu fits into this "art school" is beyond me.

Second - we also spoke with a lady who probably has a manlier voice than I do.  The lesson didn't go over very well.  We started to teach her, but she found it to be more important to show us her kittens and EVERY photo in her family photo album.

Third - we also taught this lady who was a 7th Day Adventist.  I have nothing against the 7th Day Adventists, but I do have something against this lady.  She kept repeating herself over and over again saying, "I'm a 7th day Adventist.  10 commandments.  We observe the Sabbath on Saturday."  She said each phrase about 3 million times and I just about lost it.

Saturday was a rough day.  It was Viçosa's 182 birthday and so they decided to throw parties throughout the week.  On Saturday they constructed this huge stage right in front of our house and decided to hold a humongous concert at 11:00 at night, with the one and only PABLO!  That's right you heard me, Pablo!  I know, I didn't believe it myself.  For those of you who don't know, and I don't know how you wouldn't, but Pablo is the most popular singer in all of northeast Brazil. Everybody plays his music and since they don't believe in earphones here, we hear him a lot.  People are always walking around with speakers, blasting his music in their houses, or blasting it with the cars with speakers hooked to the top.  I hear his music roughly over 9000 times a day and it all sounds the same.  So naturally, it was a pretty big deal here in little Viçosa.  At the concert they had like three groups of people who also had huge speakers blasting other music.  It's kind of like going to an amusement park, but just doing donuts in the parking lot.  So there was a glass shattering amount of music being played and lots of people, both men and women, seemed to mistake the front of our house for a public restroom.  Good Times.  Pablo didn't even show up to the concert, but they still managed to blast his music until I was deaf.  

Oh and one more thing, the ceiling fell on us.  I was talking with Elder Jepsen in another room and my companion was laying on my bed reading, when I saw out of the corner of my eye the ceiling in our room just fall down.  A cloud of dust, bat excrement, and insects then filled the air as my companion ran out of the room.  So we spent the next hour cleaning the room.  Good Times.
So yeah, the roof fell.

There literally was a good time this week.  We baptized our investigators Kailani and Kildere, which is awesome! WOOHOOO!  It was a very spiritual experience, you could just feel the love the Savior had for us so strong and the spirit was absolutely amazing.  Everyone was smiling and just filled with happiness.  One family that is closer to being forever! I had the honor of baptizing Kildere and I confirmed Kailin the next day, which I had yet to actually confirm someone, so that was a cool experience.  I love being a missionary!!
BATISMOS!!  Our baptism we had with Kildere and Kailani!!

So that's it for this week, I'm going to go preach the gospel and eat cuzcuz com ovo!

Elder Johnson

Victotry Dinner!!  Cuzcuz e Ovo  (Couscous and Egg)
I don't know why this picture makes me look so gaunt.

Elder Oliveira!  My old companion.

Elder Rutledge!  My old friend.

Muh Milkshake.  Abacaxi e Acerola com sorvete de morango, Bom to Pega!!!
(Pineapple & Acerola with strawberry ice cream.  Good to handle!!!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Great and Terrible Was The First Week of October

First off General Conference was legit!  We didn't get to go watch it in the Stake Center because we had to be here in Viçosa just in case we had investigators, (more on that later), so we set up a projector in the chapel and had Conference there.  It was good, but it's not the same in Portuguese, you don't get the emotion the speakers deliver.  One cool thing though, is that Elder Richard G. Scott is fluent in Portuguese so he does his own voice over so that was a pretty cool experience.  I really loved President Thomas S. Monson's talk and his story about that blessing he gave and I also liked Elder Eyring's talk.  It's hard to really reflect on Conference because I have a hard time paying attention with the mixture of Portuguese with English speaking lips.

Great...yet terrible was the week.

The week really started off amazing!  We picked up like 17 new investigators this week and they were all way elect.  They all had great questions and the will to act and to learn more.  We found one family, that's right A FAMILY that was LEGALLY MARRIED and I swear the father would've been like a stake president if he were to be baptized.  The first two days were great, with chance encounters, wrong referrals that turned out to be huge blessings, and all sorts of miracles and excitement.  Well it all crashed and burned on the second half of the week.

Side story, we decided to do an open house of the church this week.  Our church is located really close to a high school so we decided to throw the open house during the times when all the teenagers get out of school.  I was on the inside with my display on the Book of Mormon, Elder Denna showed the baptismal font and some of our supplies, the Stake President took names and addresses, while Elder Jepsen and Elder Silva were outside inviting people to come in.  It was madness.  Teenagers... Teenagers everywhere.  They wouldn't stop coming in and we couldn't keep up with them.  For about 1 hour and 15 minutes we had about 250 people tour the chapel.  They were all asking questions, touching things, and overall causing all sorts of chaos.  There was lots of us shouting "Don't touch that!", ‘Put that down!", "Over here quickly", "No you can't swim in the baptismal font!"  They all wanted stuff too.  By the time the open house ended they had taken every supply and example of church materials that we had.  That includes:  A Young Women’s Personal Progress booklet,  A Duty to God guide, and A Gospel Principles manual, who does that!?  We were so excited to look at all of the addresses that we got.  About 120 people left their name and address to learn more about the church, but for some odd reason they forgot to put their house number, or the road that they lived on, and some of them just left their neighborhood.  #Facepalm  We had better success at the other open house we had later at night.  We had less people, but we could explain things better and make sure THAT THEY LEAVE THEIR STUPID HOUSE NUMBER.  More snakes too, which was uncomfortable but overall it was a good time.

Anyways... By the time General Conference rolled around Satan decided to have his way with our investigators by:  

·       Giving them the will to return to their own church that they really didn't agree with in the first place.

·       Telling us that their uncle died and had to go to his funeral. *excuses*

·       Or, my personal favorite, getting locked inside their house because their "dad" got drunk and decided to lock them inside the house without any means of escape.

So when Conference rolled around we had 0.

Overall it's been a rather difficult transfer and a half here.  Don't get me wrong I love Viçosa and the members are awesome, but it's been rather difficult to get people baptized here.  I know I shouldn't complain, but man we've tried everything and we've worked ourselves to death.  But I guess it was never supposed to be the easiest experience in the world.  This has been the hardest two months of my mission, but it is definitely the two months that I've learned the most.  We've all had our fair share of hard times here, but I've definitely learned to rely on the Savior and apply his Atonement in my life.  I'm excited for what the rest of this transfer has to offer and what I will learn next.  Anyways, love you all, hoped you enjoyed Conference and remember:  SALVATION IS NOT A CHEAP EXPERIENCE!!!!!!!!

-Elder Johnson

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Battle Of The Century

Off to baptize a village.

So this week I had to go to Maceió to pick up an ID card at the police station and man it was a long annoying adventure.  We woke up at 4:00 a.m. in order to get to Maceió by 7:00.  When we arrived in Maceió we had to take a bus to the police station, but we didn't know which bus.  So we asked this guy and he told us to take this bus that just pulled up.  We got on the bus and the lady who takes your money on the bus asked us where to, and we said we were going to the police station.  Please note that she then proceeded to smile, nod, and take our money without any problem, we therefore understood this to be an understanding between the two parties.  We missionaries wanted to go to the police station and she was more than happy to take the acceptable amount of money and confirm the plan that she would take us there.

We were mistaken.

The bus then started to leave the city.  What was once brick, mortar, and carros de som, soon turned into lovely green Brazilian countryside.  The lady who made said promise with us approached me and said that we didn't pay enough to get to União dos Palmeiras, which for those of you who don't know is on the border of Pernambuco, which for those of you who don't know is the next state above us, which for those of you who don't know is very very far away.  LIES!  We then pleaded our case that she told us she would take us to the police station.  She then gasped and said, "Oh now we did a bad thing."  The bus, however, did not realize that and happily continued on its merry way very very faraway.  She then flagged down another bus about another few miles down the road and sent us back to Maceió and guess where it dropped us off?  The bus station, the exact same place we came from just about 2 to 3 hours ago.  It wasn't all in vain though; we talked to one of the bus attendants on the bus to Maceió who told us she just left her old church.  We then taught her the Restoration and maybe we opened missionary work in União!  Well probably not, but I can dream can't I?

We had interviews with President this week.  It was really great.  We talked about our area and he gave us a lot of great suggestions.  He even took us out to lunch! which is one thing we lack here in Viçosa.

So there was a Battle Of The Century this week.  We were trying to convince the non-member father of a family of recent converts to let us baptize some of his kids.  When we got home he was a little iffy about letting us do so, but then we bared our testimonies and the spirit was super strong.  He then gave us permission to baptize his children and there was much rejoicing.  In truth it wasn't really a battle, but it was spiritually intense and you could definitely feel it there in the room.  However, we can't baptize them for a couple of weeks because of scheduling conflicts, which is stressful.

So that's about it for this week.  I love you all and keep up the good work.


Elder Johnson