Wednesday, November 27, 2013



It was a pretty interesting week.  We are now working with about three couples that need to get married, which is something I have yet to do on the mission so this should be pretty fun.  We've got a few of them to already commit to marriage, but crossing that bridge was a bit rough.  I had to transform from Elder Johnson, missionary of the Lord, to Elder Johnson, missionary of the Lord and relationship advisor.  I've had to calm some feelings between some couples and get them to fully trust each other.  Because of my lack of relationship skills (I'm so lonely) this has proven to be a rather interesting experience.  It's been filled with lots of talks like this: "I know your relationship has been rocky in the past, but with marriage it can bring many blessings to your life...  Civilly marrying is a way we show trust in one another... Forgiveness and Repentance are essential in any relationship...  A family centered on Christ is a family that will be together for time and all eternity...  João, tell her you love her."  It's been rather fun, and we've been having to get lots of legal information to get people married.  It's going to take a while to get some of these people married because of complex legal situations that I really don't understand, but it's been lots of fun.

The enemy is at work here.  We had like 8 people committed to go to church and none of them went.  This isn't an unusual thing, but their excuses were extraordinary this time.  They're usually, "Oh I went to my cousins house...  I have to prepare lunch...” or some other lame excuse.  Yesterday, however, we got many great ones, such as:  “I have two weddings in one day…  Family members with cancer who are visiting for the last time… Ridiculous work schedules… and hospitalized children” (she even had the wounds to prove it.)  Alas, righteousness will prevail!

I touched one the monkeys the other day. Highlight of my life.

We had divisions with the zone leaders the other day and it went rather swell.  He showed me a lot about working with members and all that funness.  It really helped a lot and I'm filled with many ideas.  

That really is about it for this week.  Nothing too exciting has happened, but we're working pretty well.  No Dad they don't have Brazilian Thanksgiving down here, we're already singing Christmas songs in sacrament meeting.

Well I'm going to go preach the good word, until next week.

Élder Johnson

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rather Odd Miracles

The view from our window.

We had some miracles this week, even if they were rather odd. 

The first one happened a few days ago. My companion and I were teaching a lesson outside on the sidewalk when some guy with two cigarettes in his mouth came up to my companion and yelled  "YOU ARE ON MISSIONS!!!  BUY GUARANÁ" and then gave two Real notes to my companion. We tried to tell him that we couldn't accept his money but he yelled "NO!  YOU ARE SERVING MISSIONS!!!!  BUY GUARANÁ AND BREAD!!!!!" he then slapped another two Real note in my hand, gave the lowest bow I've ever seen, and preceded on his merry way.  Our investigator took it as a sign of love from God so I really can't complain.  We then bought Guaraná (a Brazilian soda) and bread out of fear of that man.

My companion asked one of our investigators if he knew of anyone that would like to hear the gospel. He said yes. He told us he knows this man believes in God, but is hardened, doesn't want to go to church, and overall hardcore.  We went over to the house he referred us to and this very nice lady let us in (who turned out to be a less active member.) She led us to her husband (our referral) and he turned out to be a very nice man.  I was thinking we'd walk in on a man with a beer in each hand, smoking, huge, and covered with tattoos that'd say things like "Eu Odeio os Mórmons" (I Hate Mormons), but he turned out to be really nice, felt the spirit, and invited himself to church.  At the end of the lesson he asked us if we could "make continual visits to his house and teach him the gospel." .... fine.... I guess we will......

I've reached an "I'm very tired phase of my mission" which hopefully means something good.

So cool experience.  We had some recent converts bring us to a house of a less active member to try and bring him back into activity.  Usually when you work with less active members it's because they got offended or stopped reading the Book of Mormon and fell away.  These types of lessons are usually pretty chill and we try to rebuild their faith.

That's not who this guy was.

Turns out he practically was born in the church, attended until he was 20, and stopped going to church just because he wanted too.  He's a lawyer (rich) and now is part of an Espírita Church.  I still don't know what Espírita is completely; nobody seems to be able to tell me.  The only thing I really understand is that they're Christians, but believe in reincarnation, that Jesus did not atone for our sins, and that we have to atone for our own sins.  We talked for about two hours hitting lots of deep doctrine points and everybody bearing powerful testimony, it was nuts.  I've never really had a deep doctrinal discussion in Portuguese before, but I did that day.  We proved our point and the recent converts bore really powerful testimony.  He didn't accept to come back to church, but he did accept to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.  We were also able to plant some seeds in some of the neighbors while we were there and one of them actually seemed rather interested.  It was a very interesting experience. I truly felt that I wasn't "confounded before men" and I felt completely confident the entire time, which I thought was a very interesting experience.

That's about it for this week, really nothing else really happened.  We're trying to find some ex investigators around here and the members are really supportive.  I'll just keep chugging along down here.  Until next time!

Elder Johnson

P.S.  Abraços  (Hugs)

P.P.S.  Love you lots.  Tchau a abraços beijos sucesso batismos!*  (Goodbye, hugs, kisses, success baptisms!)

A rich part of our area.

A small Grota.  We do have a bigger one, but I'm too afraid to take a picture of it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I'm Very Catholic

´Twas a very slow week.  We made lots of contacts and tried to visit lots of people, but had little to no success with that.  We'd mark appointments with people and of course when we got there, they wouldn't be home.  Nobody wanted to really listen to us also this week so that's cool too.  I have a feeling this next week will be better though, we had a very extreme Ward Counsel meeting the other day.  I didn't know that Ward Counsel meetings could get extreme, but yet again the mission has proven to be filled with all manner of surprises.  We got there at the meeting and everyone started shooting out ideas of how to get the less active members to come back to church.  They all started throwing down names of people they wanted us to visit and dates when we could leave with some of the members to talk with less actives.  The room was filled with about 10 people all throwing down names and addresses at the same and it was complete chaos... I loved it.

So some of the wonders that encompasses the magical world of Elder Johnson this week:

We went to a lunch appointment with a family that indeed has monkeys for pets.  There are quite a few monkeys in my area because we're close to some kind of forest reserve that they decided to build in the middle of the city, which is inhabited with these tiny-creepy-koala-looking monkeys. We first spied them sitting on the roof of the house next door to us and we saw them again at lunch the other day.  I naturally was overjoyed and took a lot of pictures of them, which I probably won’t be able to send today because I hate this computer and it wont read my card.

We also talked to lady who told us she was very Catholic.  We invited her to learn more about Jesus Christ and she said in her own words:  "Guys, you've got to understand that I'm very Catholic, like very very Catholic.  I'm not a little a little bit Catholic, I'm seriously Catholic."  

I also met a dog named "Meg Ryan" the other day, which I found to be rather funny.

The Grota here makes no sense either.  We went inside because we had a reference for a family there and it made absolutely no sense.  Grota's should be poor right? Then how come these people can afford satellite and HD TV's when some of these people don't even have a bathroom?  There were churches and stores down there with a putrid smelling stream that everyone uses for a sewer.

To answer some of your questions Jardim Do Horto is the ward that takes part of the neighborhoods Canaã and Gruta de Lourdes. I'm liking my new area, the members here a really cool and work well with us.  We don't have McDonalds or fast food in my area, but we do have a Hiper Bompreço and an Extra, which is really cool.  Training is pretty cool too, it's a little bit of work but it's fun, you learn a lot.

So I guess I'll end this on a more spiritual note.  I was reading the word the other day when I came across this scripture D&C 103:36 which says "All victory and glory is brought to pass unto you through your diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith."  It just kind felt different.  I've read the D&C a few times and I never ran across that scripture before. It's like a formula to overcoming trials and being successful.  You can bring about your "victory" through diligence, faithfulness, and prayers of faith.  I shared this scripture at our lunch appointment and the member and her mom jumped at the scripture and said it felt like they heard it for the first time. Her mom even asked for me to write it down for her so that was pretty cool. 

So that's it for now, I'm going to cry repentance atop a soapbox in the middle of the road. Tchau!

-Elder Johnson

Diligence, Faithfulness, and Prayers of Faith.

Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm A Father

The other day at transfer meeting I was called to serve in Ala Jardim Do Horto inMaceió.  After about 10 months on my mission I finally get to serve in the city I was called to.  It's a pretty interesting area, it has some tall 10 story buildings, a pretty nice neighborhood, along with another neighborhood that has houses nicer then probably most of the houses where we live.  It also has some neighborhoods that I'm used to and Grota!  For those of you who don't know what a Grota is it’s a kind of Favela, for those of you who don't know what a Favela is it’s a slum that is built on top of hills.  Grotas are different from Favelas because you descend into the Grota instead of climb to the top.  It's pretty different; they've got houses built on top of other houses all willy-nilly with staircases climbing to the top as roads.  They have Catholic shrines of Mother Mary inside and some of the houses are even made out of scraps of wood and tin metal.  It's a pretty daunting looking place.  There's a road that passes next to our Grota and there's always stuff going on inside, you can here barking dogs, commotion of people, and a blend of all the music they're blasting at the top of the Grota, it's all sorts of chaos and madness.
Jardim do Horto Maceio Alagoas Brazil
So naturally I had to go inside.

It's pretty cool inside the Grota, it's definitely not what I'm used to but it's pretty cool.

Oh and I'm training.

Yeah when I got to the transfer meeting they announced that Kyle and I would be training.  Training, since I got here, has been one of my biggest fears.  Training takes quite a bit of responsibility and this would mean I would be whitewashing into my area. So yeah when I was called to train (and I could feel it coming too) I definitely didn't know how to respond.

I would like to liken receiving the call to train unto receiving the news of having a terminal illness.  People come up to you and say things like, "Hey man it's going to be alright." "I know you can do it!" "You're good enough." "I bet it won't hurt too bad."  Other people congratulate you and as with congratulating someone who just received word that they'd be dying from a terminal illness, it made absolutely no sense to me.  "Hey congratulations Bro!" "Way to go on your imminent doom buddy." "Man I wish I was in your place."

Yeah, no sense whatsoever.

So all of us trainers chilled at the church until the secretaries came to get us.  We got to the Presidents house and we saw all of the new missionaries.  I was called to train Elder Torres!  Who is a Gaúcho (cowboy) from Rio Grande Do Sul (southern most state in Brazil) and has the accent to prove it "Que Barbaridade Tche!"  He's really cool and I really don't have to do much training he's the most excited missionary I've ever met.  He just goes and makes contacts like there's no tomorrow and just tears it up all day. So my son is pretty cool.

We whitewashed into an area that was previously an area for sisters and so they left the house all clean and instructions on paper with hearts on it.

So yeah it's going pretty well here in Brazil.  They don't really have Halloween down here so I was really sad, but it's cool I'm over it. Well I'm going to be down here trying to train a missionary. Wish me luck!

-Elder Johnson