Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The World is Ending.

So this week was transfers.  I've got another round here in the garden and I got a new companion, Elder López, from Buenos Aires Argentina.  He's got a pretty cool accent and things are going really well. He's really funny.

Our investigators are going well, we've got some new ones, cut some old ones, and we resurrected some old investigators too!

As the title might have suggested, the world is coming to an end down here. This week has been absolutely nuts! There have been car crashes, robbings, helicopters flying of the Grotas with huge lights searching for some thug inside, and all sorts of craziness.

The week started off weird enough with some guy who had some serious anger issues, who decided to take his problems out on a jaca. He just kept picking up the jaca and throwing it on the ground. It was a jaca douro, or a hard jaca, so you can't just break the thing by slamming it on the pavement but this troubled man sure thought it would work out all right.
Jaqueira (Jaca Tree)  These things are a big larger and harder than a watermelon and they grow on trees.

The next day was even crazier.

This story first starts off about a month ago, when we asked some member if we could help them paint their house, they said yes, then they painted it without us and we were sad.

A month later, (Thursday in fact,) we were talking on the road with some old guy with very little hair. He was in fact dying the little patch of hair on top of his balding head jet black and it looked super funny. We were talking with him when we heard, what appeared to be, the sound of a house falling down. The noise was coming from a road parallel to us. People started looking down the road, and others came running away from the commotion carrying dogs and children and what not. We decided to see what it was and when we looked down the road there were just flames being shot onto the ground by some unknown source. When the fire stopped, we walked down the road to find that the commotion had come from the house of said member.

So what happened was that this member has a son who sells corn and mungunzá next to the local super market. He does so with a cart and inside the cart he has a propane tank that heats the corn and mungunzá. It turned out though, he put the wrong hose on the end of it and it couldn't take the pressure, therefore it blew up. The hose started shooting fire out of one end so the son of the member, a fireman, kicked the cart out into the road. The fire didn't stop and just kept spraying flames willy nilly in the middle of the road. Everyone fled and one guy even successfully pushed a VW hippy van out of harms danger. The propane tank ran out of gas and all was well.
The crispy corn cart aftermath.
When we went to go investigate we saw the guy and his sister cleaning up the debris so we went to go help them, while everyone else just kind of gawked at the aftermath. The guy first started picking up the corn (both Elder López and I thought he was going to go and try and sell it,) and we carried the ill-fated corn cart inside.

Nobody was harmed and the house was completely fine, except for one wall, which will need to be repainted. So the moral of the story is, if you're going to tell the missionaries that you're going to let them paint your house, you better well do it! or your house is going to blow up and the missionaries will just have to come and help you repaint anyways.

The next day yielded much adventure too.

We were walking to an interview when we saw one of our investigators working at a gas station, so we decided to come back and talk with her after the interview. On the road back we stopped by the gas station to make an appointment with her when some drunk guy was trying to get us to come over and talk with him. We treated him like a normal drunk guy until he yelled "YOU TWO NEED TO GET OVER HERE AND DO SOMETHING THIS MAN IS DYING." We then briskly walked into the gas station to see what all the fuss was.

Turns out that some guy started to have an epileptic seizure in the middle of the gas station and he was just writhing on the ground. Us and about 6 other guys grabbed a hold of him and tried wrestling him to the ground. Man that guy was strong, it took 8 of us to keep him from smacking his head against the tile while we waited for the ambulance to come. While we were wrestling this guy, the drunk guys kept buying beer and were just being super obnoxious the whole time "BREATHE OUT YOUR MOUTH AND IN THROUGH YOUR NOSE!!!!!! OUT YOUR MOUTH AND IN THROUGH YOUR NOSE!!!!!!! UHHH… CAN SOMEBODY ELSE TELL HIM WHAT TO DO!? I'M GETTING TIRED!!!!!"

We then watched the ambulance drive by and park at the wrong gas station so somebody had to go run over there and tell them of their error. They got there and tied him to a gurney with rope, like the rope Grandpa uses to tie his boat to the dock, and they carried him away. It was a very dramatic scene and it was a good thing we decided to pass by and make another appointment with our investigator.

Well that's it for this week.  There was indeed lots of excitement and I'm absolutely terrified of what's going to happen next week if this transfer is going to continue as so. Anywho, I'm going to go paint a wall. Hope all is well back home. Love you all and have a great week!

-Elder Johnson

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

He Was Lost, and Is Found.

I'm so tired.

The last week I had to give the lesson in gospel principles about our Heavenly Father's plan, which was loads of fun. The ward secretary then informed that one of the speakers hadn't come and asked me to give an emergency talk. I was prepared to lay down the law, at first I was a bit nervous but then I got over it and was excited to discourse. The speaker then showed up and I was out of a job and surprisingly enough, I was a bit disappointed that I didn't have the opportunity to speak.

So they gave us the news yesterday and it looks like I'm staying for round three here in the garden. I am setting Elder Torres loose into the big wide world as he has now finished his training. I sure hope I taught him well.

I also met a guy with the last name Johnson this week. I thought he was pulling my leg because I've been in Brazil for almost a year and I had never come across someone with the last name Johnson. I thought he was just trying joke around with me or make fun of my name but it turned out to be true. When I walked into his house, he showed his mom my name tag and screamed "Elder Johnson!" and got all happy because her son will be "Elder Johnson" too.

This land never ceases to amaze me. I love Brazil.

This week was the week of interviews.  We had interviews with President Gonzaga, which is always a good, insightful time, and I also had to do lots interviews for the sister’s baptisms. I did the interviews this week and they all were very interesting experiences. Mind you, that none of these people lived close to one another, so there was lots of traveling. Interviews are a very interesting experience. Some of these interviews had complications and they told me things that they'd never told anyone before. I thought it strange that people I had just recently met, trusted me enough to share some of their deepest and darkest secrets, but then I thought, that they weren't really confessing their sins to me, but were in a spirit of true repentance.

Interviews are probably one of my favorite things to do, you get to see people who have truly repented of their sins and are in search of a better life and they always have some amazing stories to tell.  There was one person I interviewed, which I judged to soon, when they told me who he was, he looked to me like someone who never would be baptized, but when I spoke with him, he absolutely blew me away. His stories and his intention to follow Christ completely caught me off guard and he probably was one of the most elect persons I have ever met. Goes to show that you really can't judge people.

I had one interview that was really really cool. I talked with a man who had been carrying around the weight of a pretty heavy sin for many years and he just told me how bad he felt for what he had done. We went through the process of determining if he could be baptized and when he was cleared for baptism it was so cool. It was amazing to see real repentance and to see the atonement work in the lives of others.

In my studies this week, I was reading in "Jesus, The Christ" and I read the story of the prodigal son. I love the part when the son comes home. 

Luke 15:20-24

20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

22 But the father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.

I was touched at the acceptance his father showed to him, that even after all he had done, there was still repentance, and even more, they celebrated his return. I love seeing true repentance and the happiness it brings, that it makes everyone happy and everyone rejoices. The atonement is such an amazing gift and is infinite, that we always have the opportunity to repent and that we may feel the love of our Heavenly Father and truly feel the atonement. The joy of repentance extends more than our own personal happiness but it makes our Father in Heaven immensely happy too, as he says:

"And let us... be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."

-Élder Johnson

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Makin' holes in the wall.

Dear Mamãe,

It's going pretty well down here in Brazil and yes it's very hot.

This week was your basic, average week here in the blessed land of Maceió.  Like always, it was hot, humid, and filled with lots of excitement.  The excitement though, I have a hard time remembering, so we will see how this letter goes.

So this week we did a service project.  There's this member here in the ward that is really helping us out and she needed help with a renovation in her house so we decided to help her our.  We spent the morning breaking away walls and chiseling holes in order to put in the electric work.  I picked up my hammer and chiseled and went all barbaric on that wall and made me a few pathways for electrical outlets, I felt pretty cool.

I also got my haircut pretty short.

Walking on the streets this week, I heard a an angry, shirtless man, with a cigarette in his hand calling for "Coxinha!!"  For those of you who don't know, a coxinha, is a Brazilian snack, which is shaped like a drop, is made of a corn batter, has chicken inside, deep fried, and served with ketchup. Tasty.  But it came to pass that coxinha wasn't a culinary treat, but was in fact, the littlest Chihuahua I've ever seen and for some reason this man was very unhappy with him.

We are now entering the last week of the transfer, I'm almost done training and it's been a pretty great experience, I've learned a lot, and I've felt that I've grown quite a bit because of it.  It has been a very challenging time, but it's been a time of much learning and changing.  We've been working pretty well this past week and we had some investigators at church this Sunday with some less actives we've managed to reactivate.  I really have no idea if I'll stay or not, I've really like the area and I'm excited for the future.  Até logo!

-Élder Johnson

Zona Maceió B!!!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hump Day


First off mom, there's no such thing as too much Portuguese.

This week was very interesting, it was the New Year so everyone was drinking, singing, and dancing with much rudeness.  T´was a bit difficult to teach people but we got over it.  New Years was basically a normal day except I used the horn and noisemakers you sent me to make all manner of loud and obnoxious sounds.

Speaking of loud and obnoxious sounds, we were out walking the streets the other day when this guy, who looked a lot like Santa Claus passed us on the road.  He looked at us and, in what appeared to be a witch like cackle, yelled "Smitchy! Smitchy! Josephey Smitchy!!!" (that's how people here pronounce the name Joseph Smith) and laughed his way on yonder.

We also taught a lesson to some guy who believes in Espiritismo (Spiritualism).  He gave a very good case for reincarnation using the Bible to point out that John the Baptist was indeed Elijah reincarnated and that Jesus Christ wasn't resurrected but was in fact reincarnated.  It was a pretty interesting discussion and he gave a really argument.

I also tried Tererê yesterday too.  It's a lot like Chimarrão (a drink) but it's cold and you put juice in the herbs, it's really good.

This week I also had my Hump Day, which was a day of mixed feelings.  I felt good that I made it half way, but that means I only have another half of my mission left.  I don't know it was just weird; I'm planning on celebrating it though today with pizza!!!!

So the worst lesson of the week was yesterday.  We went to go teach this lady and I really had to use a lot of patience.  She was super old and I'm pretty sure not a lot was going on in her head.  She didn't understand what I was saying, she didn't understand what my companion was saying, and she just barely understood what the member we brought with us was saying.  We had a discussion that went a little like this.

ME:    "Do you have the desire to follow Jesus Christ?"
LADY:    "I've never seen him."
ME:    "No, do you want to follow him."
LADY:    "I think it's going to be pretty hard to see Jesus."
COMPANION:    "Sister, do you want to be closer to Jesus Chris?t"
LADY:    "Well how am I supposed to see him?"

The member explains what we're trying to tell her for five minutes.  We then explain to her why it's important to follow Jesus Christ.  She agrees with everything.

ME:    "So sister, will you follow Jesus Christ?"
LADY:    "I still don't understand how I'm supposed to see Jesus when he's in heaven."

I then just started laughing to myself in a mixture of ridiculousness and inner soulful pain.

The BEST lesson of the week was something entirely different.  We are teaching this couple and we need to get them married.  It's been a bit of a complicated process and in short, if they get married, it's going to be super expensive for them.  We were on divisions that day so the Zone Leader and I went to teach him.  We taught a lesson in a storm of dropping scriptures, powerful testimony, and the promise of blessings.  The spirit was UNDENIABLY STRONG, and in the end they agreed that it would be better to count on the blessings of God, instead of material wealth. Oh it was an epic lesson.  Our investigator wasn't too happy because he hasn't received his dowry yet, but I think he'll get over it.

This Sunday was the Sunday of powerful testimonies.  Everyone who got up to speak bared a super powerful testimony.  In the end our recent convert Marina got up and bared her testimony of how she has seen the hand of God in her life, the blessings of this gospel, and how she desires to see all of her adult children baptized.

Needless to say I was a very happy missionary in that moment.

Well it was a really good week, I'm going to get eat Brazilian pizza now, so until next week Family and Friends!

-Elder Johnson

This is the Grota in my area. 
This is Aldebaran, which is a really nice condominium neighborhood in my area.