Monday, December 30, 2013

Long Time, No See.

Hi Mommy….

That is indeed a joke, for I saw you guys just the other day.  It was great to chat with you all back home.  It really didn't feel all that weird, it felt like I was just there the other day and we were all just chat'n it up back home!  But alas, t'was not so.  It still was awesome to see you all though!

This week, for those of you who didn't know, was indeed Christmas.  President gave us permission to stay out a little bit later for a dinner if someone invited us over on Christmas for dinner on Christmas Eve.  So we got an invite and had a glorious feast! It was filled with us giving a Christmas message, turkey, and all manner of deliciousness!  

Christmas Day was pretty great too.  We woke up and opened up presents, Elder Torres really liked the presents you sent and I really enjoyed the Calendar and Temple Book.  I think it's very cool that anyone nowadays can just go and make themselves a fancy little book just willy nilly and not have to go and make a billion copies, you can just make a book!

I did enjoy all the presents rather nicely, they made me happy, and I'm excited to start marking my calendar!  We Skyped on Christmas, saw ya'll, and had a very merry discussion.  

We then left to go work and we managed to teach a lesson that night, which I was doubting we'd be able to do, because of all of the partying.

So, some other interesting things this week was I got to do my first interview as district leader!  That was pretty cool.  I got to ask all the questions and see if these two girls were ready for baptism.  The interview went over well and these girls I interviewed, indeed passed, and were baptized this week by one of the companionships in my district.

I also got to teach the gospel principles class for Sunday school last week.  Can you guess what the topic was on? It was indeed:


Yep, they saved the best topic for the last day of the year.  I was a bit nervous to present this principle, that is very profound and deep to a group of investigators/recent converts.  It went over well though.  We had a very thought provoking discussion on eternal progression and the sorts and it didn't make anyone’s' heads explode out of overload of Mormon extremeness.  I was pretty afraid that I'd be teaching a topic that make some people leave the church, but they all thought it made sense though, so I survived.  

So this week was lots of work, we had lots of days of trying to find new investigators and alas they did not want to be found.  The first few days of the week were difficult and we were getting almost nowhere.  It then came to pass that the weekend we just exploded.  We were able to get ourselves some new investigators and it was sick!!!  Determination and the help of the spirit really pay off.

Well, that's it.  It sure was fun to see you all on Wednesday, but I must continue and bake in the Brazilian Sun.  Thanks for everything and you're the best!  Until next week!

-Elder Johnson

P.S. Thanks again for the presents, the temple book was my favorite for sure. I love you all and have a happy new year!  

P.P.S.  Fun fact, only about 18 hours of this year 2013 was I a normal person and not a missionary.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Feliz Natal!

Maceió Brazil Mission

Another week has come and gone down here in the freezing land of Northeast Brazil.  It was a rather interesting week if I do say so myself.  On Tuesday we had our Christmas Conference at the Farol Stake Center and it was legit!  It's the only time of year we have the whole mission together in one place so I got to meet everybody!  Old companions, mission friends, and my group from the MTC were finally reunited.  It was an all day conference filled with talks from President and Sister Gonzaga, lunch, a talent show, and all sorts of festival frivolity.  Some of the Elders got up and did a news presentation of inside jokes and it was hilarious.

Good old fashioned me and Elder Rutledge photo.

Our MTC group finally reunited.

Filho, Papai, e Avô.  (Son, Father, and Grandfather)

On the way back we had a pretty interesting guy talk to us on the bus.  Here it is pretty normal for people to get on the bus for free and start selling things or ask for money.  This time we had a guy get on to sell us cookies. I'm pretty sure he just stole these cookies because his little speal went a little like this, "Good evening ladies and gentlemen.  I'd like to wish you all a great trip and a Merry Christmas.  I am here today to sell you these cookies (holds up box of cookies and looks at it rather confused) Yeah....I'm not sure if these are cookies covered in chocolate or a bar of chocolate with cookies sprinkled on top....but it's from the company Amor, so it's got to be good right?"  Needless to say I did not buy his cookies.

We also had a baptism this week!  It was glorious.  We baptized the daughter of the woman we baptized the other week and it was a great experience.  It's absolutely amazing to see what kind of changes this gospel can truly bring to people.  It was so cool to see the difference the gospel made.  The baptism itself was really cool. Right as I started saying the baptismal prayer it got supper quiet, like really really quiet.  For those of you who do not know much about Maceió (which I'm assuming is a rather large number of you) it's never quiet, but during the baptism it was absolutely silent and there was this incredible feeling of peace there in that room.

Soooooo that's about it for this week.  I think I'll be calling Wednesday around 2:00 my time, which I'm thinking will be about 10:00 where you guys are.  Until then, I'll be putting on my snow coat and fighting of the chill winds and freezing rain.  Until Wednesday!

-Elder Johnson

Jardim Do Horto District

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oh, By The Way...

So transfers rolled around and I was not transferred this time around and neither was my companion.  Because none of us were being transferred we had no need to go to the transfer meeting.  The Zone Leaders said they'd call me to let me know what would happen at the meeting later that day.  We continued on with our normal daily routine:  we taught the gospel, ate lunch, talked with some crazy people, you know, normal things.  When night came we started to plan when I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize, I responded and the following conversation ensued:

ME:    Hello this is Elder Johnson.
SISTER:    Hey Elder Johnson this is Sister _________
ME:    (why is she calling me?) Hey Sister _________ do you need anything?
SISTER:    Yeah, I just want to know where this week’s district meeting will be held.
ME:    District Meeting?
SISTER:    Yeah you're our new District Leader right?
ME:    (heart stops) ....  I'm your District Leader?
SISTER:    Yeah, you're a District Leader didn't the Zone Leaders call you?
ME:    No...
SISTER:    Oh... well..... Congratulations!!!

I then received a call from the Zone Leaders telling me that I was District Leader, with a district of six sisters.  Needless to say that was a very stressful moment for me.  He then gave me all of my instructions over the phone and and wished me luck and told me I had a meeting to do on Thursday (it was like 10 at night on Tuesday when I got the call.)  The next day was filled with much preparation and stress.  The meeting, I feel, went over pretty well.  I talked about finding investigators and how it mixes in with faith and I feel like I did pretty good for one day of preparation.  Anyways, that was a fun/traumatic experience.  It's all good though, I'm learning a lot.

So on another note, I saw the worst clown in the world the other day.  We were talking with a member in front of her house the other day, which is located on a hill.  We heard lots of chanting and out of nowhere popped this really terrible clown.  He had dirty hair, with crude white makeup on his face and was wearing clown pants.  He had this unicycle and he was accompanied by a band of excited chanting children.  He would yell something and they'd respond "tem sim, senhor!"  He then hopped on his unicycle and went barreling down the dirt hill, with the flock of children chasing after him into the sunset.

So two people who are really cool, one is our recent convert.  She was having issues with coffee before her baptism, but after her baptism she told us that she just doesn't have any desire to drink coffee anymore.  The other is our investigator, with whom we are trying to get him married.  We went and got all of the papers and information for marriage and we were explaining it all to him.  We were trying to tell him where he could pay less for marriage, when he told us that it didn't matter, that he knew it was right for him to get married and he had a desire to follow the gospel!

One person who isn't so cool was an investigator we lost this week.  We showed up at her house and the following conversation ensued:

Her:    I have some exciting news for you!
Me:    Really?
Her:    Yes, I did what you said.
Me:    Uh huh.
Her:    I prayed.
Me:    Yes.
Her:    I received and answer.
Me:    YES!
Her:    That I need to stay in my current religion...
Me:    (slight dry sobbing)

Yeah, she said she had a vision and that she was supposed to stay in her religion.

Oh well..

To top things off we had a conference for all of northeast Brazil yesterday.  It was given by Elder Ulysses Soares, of the presidency of the seventy, and Elder M. Russell Ballard, even spoke.  They talked a lot about missionary work, going to the temple, and paying your tithing.  It was really cool; it was broadcast by satellite and even the presidency of the area spoke.  We had a conference for our stake the night before, they're working on splitting the stake so they held a missionary work conference on Saturday, they had all the missionaries in the stake come and they gave a training to all the members.  It was really cool, and everyone left all excited to do missionary work.

Well that's it for today, a pretty interesting week if I do say so myself.  Hope all is well in the snow.  Love you all and have an amazing week!

Elder Johnson

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oh No...

This is the Christmas Tree of Salvation.  I made it out of the kit you sent me.
 I've since made the tree to teach gospel truths.

Well it's been another week down here.  Everyone is gearing up for Christmas, putting up trees, hanging lights on houses, just loads of festive frivolity!  They have told me a little bit about the Skype call.  We can make it anytime between December 23-26 so you can choose which day.  Also mom, I don't know if you've realized it but I still have a little bit more than a year to go (you can make it!!!!!) so I think it's a bit early for President to say something about my release date.  My guess though is that I should be back before Christmas 2014.

Weird people Elder Johnson spoke with this week:

There was one guy who called me a werewolf.  Apparently there was a story that the missionaries are also werewolves and they transform at night so that's why they have to be back home by 9:00 pm.

We also spoke with this guy at a member’s house.  I asked him his name and he responded:  " Hmmmmm.... My name......  I don't think I'm at liberty to tell you my name right now."  The member then proceeded to invite him to church, but he didn't have any of it.  He started to say really weird things like:  "When you have a religion, you have to know that it is true, and you do that by analyzing it, by the way that it is." Just lots of nonsense, I thought it was hilarious.

We also had a baptism!  WOOOO!!  First baptism as senior companion and therefore a great confidence builder!  It was a pretty great experience. Our investigator was really happy and we had a ton of the members from the ward there.  My son was able to baptize her, it was an amazing day, the spirit was really strong, people were happy, and Elder Johnson has more confidence now!

Well that's it for now.  Our district leader called and told me I'm up for round two here in Jardim do Horto, which really wasn't that big of a surprise.  We've got some other investigators that are progressing; we just need to get them married first.  Hope all is going well living in the land of the ice and snow.  Until next Monday!

-Elder Johnson

P.S. I wasn't fat.

P.P.S. I really wasn't.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm Not Crying

I wasn't fat before my mission.  I've decided that I'm never ever going to show a picture of myself “before” my mission to the Brazilians ever again.  Every time I do, to an investigator, member, or missionary, we always have the following conversation:

THEM:    Wow you were fat before your mission.
ME:    I wasn't fat.
THEM:    Yeah you were.  You were enormous.
ME:    You're being ridiculous.  I may have had a bit more weight than I do right now, but I wasn't fat.
THEM:    You were a little fat.
ME:    'silent sobbing…'

Brazilians 1      Elder Johnson's self-esteem 0
BEFORE my mission.
NOW during my mission.

We did have Zone Conference this week and it was glorious.  I kept hearing the same thing over and over again about not regretting your mission.  This has kind of been my little theme during my time here, not letting anything make me regret my mission five or ten years down the road.  We got some changes with the rules that we can only use “shoulder bags” now and there was lots of good training.  I also got to see Elder Rutledge, which is always a grand time.
Me & Elder Rutledge
We had three new missionaries arrive from the states today that were waiting for Visas.  Two of them served in the good old Salt Lake City South Mission.  Apparently Bluffdale is booming.  One even served in our Copperview Stake for a week, so that was really fun to talk with him.

That really is about all that I have to say about this week.  It's been a pretty average week filled with contacting, teaching, and talking with crazies.  I really wish I had more to write, but I just don't this week.  I love you all and have fun with the winter weather.  You know for sure I will be digging out my snow coat and sled this next Monday.

Elder Johnson