Monday, February 24, 2014

I'm Proud To Be An American.

Brazilian Sidewalk

Where at least I know I'm free, dang it!!!

I got into a rather heated discussion this week with some of our investigators.  They had some questions about good ol' Murica and I happily responded.  They in turn decided to change our discussion into a "Let's bash on the USA" discussion.  I in turn defended my land like a true patriot and I did not back down!!!!  You don't realize how big of a patriot you are until you live in another country where people like to make fun of the USA.  YOU CAN'T TAKE THE SKY FROM ME!!!!!!!!

We had zone conference this week, as usual it awesome.  President Gonzaga talked about the change of a new mission president we'll be having soon and how me are part of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  There was lots of trainings, and spiritual things, and was an overall jolly time.  The assistants did a "Book of Mormon responds to the questions of the soul, northeast Brazil version" which was really funny, and actually helped out quite a bit.
Maceio Zone Conference

This week I also had the opportunity to give a surprise talk in sacrament meeting woohoo!!!!!  The secretary told me about 25 minutes before sacrament so I had to prepare with much haste.  I ended up speaking about repentance and the role we as members have to help those who are need of repentance, who maybe have lost there way, and to show those who do not know the path to salvation and eternal happiness.  I felt like I did pretty well.  I'm getting more and more comfortable with speaking in church and I don't even really need to write down that much to help me!

We went to war yesterday.  Elder López and I had to take off our missionary tags and put on our "Johnson and López Professional Marriage Counseling" tags.  We were teaching a couple who were trying to get married.  We brought a copy of "A Família: A Proclamação ao Mundo" to them and we were trying to teach them how to raise a successful family based on Christ.  The lesson went over very well, until the end.

Then the bomb went off.

The two started fighting accusing each other of heinous deeds and all sorts of terrible things.  She started crying and he wasn't being too nice to her so López and I had to swoop in and save the day.  They said they were going to need a marriage counselor, but we told them how to save their relationship.  The problem, their relationship wasn't based on the family, each other, or Christ.  One of them was only thinking about themselves and refused to put the needs of other ahead of his own.  We did damage control with advice such as:

"The relationship has to have humility and forgiveness.  You can't let what the other says hurt you and you need to be able and willing to forgive them."

"Take a piece of paper and write down your goals you want as a couple."

"José take a piece of paper and write down all of the good qualities she has and share it with her.  No, I don't care if she already knows these things, you have to be supportive and express how you really feel to her."

"A relationship with a foundation not centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ will not stand."

"You need to learn to forgive and not let your emotions get the better of you."

"Look what you did José, you made her cry, APOLOGIZE!!!!"

Yeah it was an absolute mess.  We talked with them for a good hour and half and I think we got almost nowhere.  In the end we left with a prayer and no one was happy.

One thing I've learned during my mission is how I want to raise my family.  I definitely don't want to have my family be like the mess we had the other day.  You learn how much of a difference the gospel makes in the lives of families.  There's a big difference between the families in the ward who are faithful and apply the gospel in their lives and a lot of the other families I see throughout the day, where they only care about themselves and children are either accidents or not that big of a priority.  

You kind of see a big polarization here.  On one hand you see a lot of single moms with a lot of kids and no husband because he's probably drunk, abuses her, or just doesn't really care.  You see lots of problems with drugs and what disobedience to the law of chastity brings.  The other day I saw 2 ten-year-old kids sniffing glue on the bus.  Some guy got mad at them, told them to study, and threw their glue out of the bus.  They then got off to go and try and find it.

On the other hand you see families that just radiate the spirit, everyone is happy, the family is most likely to have both a father and a mother, and there is peace.  You kind of see a huge difference down here and it makes me think how I want my future family.  So thanks Mom and Dad for a strong family based on Christ, it really makes a huge difference.

Well, that's it. This week is Carnival, so things should get pretty interesting.  I hope I'll be able to send you all an email next week but I have my doubts, it is in fact Carnival.

Até logo!!!

-Élder Johnson


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Oh Valentine's Day

Every missionary’s favorite day.

They actually don't have Valentine’s Day down here, they have "Dia dos Namorados" but that's not for a few more months.  Apparently they have Valentine's Day in Argentina though.  Valentine's day filled me with much sadness and longing to see my significant other; I just have to find out who my significant other is first.  I'm so lonely....

So I got to try something that I haven't eaten for quite some time this week.


Yes I didn't believe it either, it's been a few months since I've had a good brownie and for lunch the other day a member made brownies, which is a rare delicacy down here.  Right now is Jaca season so there's been a ton of Jaca fruit for sale the past few days.  I got to try Jaca too; it's pretty good but has a pretty weird taste, almost like a banana.  It does, however look nothing like a banana.  It's this giant, green, spiky, fruit, which is larger than a watermelon, and it grows on trees.  If a Jaca falls on you, you'll probably die.  I also got to try something called "Brinco de Viúva" which is like a grape mixed with an olive and tastes about the same.

We taught one of my favorite lessons the other day, we taught this lady who had previously met with the missionaries and one of her kids was baptized so we decided to teach her.  She had a ton of questions and all of them had answers that we had.  She said it was like everything was making sense and that she finally understands things about the gospel she didn't previously understand.  She even started answering her own questions correctly which was awesome, definitely one of my favorite lessons yet.

We had a FHE with one of the ward families the other day to try and integrated some of our investigators with the ward.  It went over pretty well, I shared a message on faith and the food was good.  We also had pretty good entertainment in the form of a cockroach flying in through the window, (yes they fly down here, mind you this was on the ninth floor of an apartment building, how it got all the way up there I have no idea.)  Everyone starting screaming and freaking out and chaos ensued.  The little devil was disposed of and all were entertained, well at least I was, I thought it was pretty funny.

We had the baptism for one of our investigators this week.  She lives with family who are part of the church and lots of missionaries had tried to baptize.  We decided to be patient with her and she decided to get baptized on her own!!  It was a great service, everyone was happy, especially her mom, who wants all of her kids to join the church!  We had her uncle baptize her and it was definitely a very special moment.

This week was awesome and all is well.  Thanks for all and I hope your Valentine's Day wasn't as depressing as mine. Until next week!!!

Elder Johnson

Monday, February 10, 2014


Me and a monkey.

Hey! How's it going!?

Things down here are going pretty well, we had a pretty good week.  We started off the week doing an activity in the church, we gave a spiritual lesson on the atonement and our ward mission leader had some games for everyone to play, which got pretty heated.  People can get pretty competitive over musical chairs and Pictionary.  The activity went over well and everyone had a good time.  We in turn, were able to bring some non members to the church in a not so frightening unchurchy way, which they seemed to like quite a bit.

We had a leadership meeting this week with everyone in Alagoas and I got to see a lot of people, including Elder Rutledge!!!  This meeting was pretty awesome!  We talked a lot about how we can help our districts and zones become better and how to add inspiration into our leadership.  President spoke a lot about perspective and how our perspective matters which got me thinking about how much of a positive perspective Mormon doctrine really is.  Some people think Adam and Eve kind of condemned us all by eating the fruit of the tree, when we have the perspective that they did so that we could be here and have joy.  Some people don't know why they have trials or are quick to curse/forget God, when we have the perspective that our trials are for our benefit and that we can overcome them through the love of Christ and that we can learn in grown by way of them.  I just thought about how optimistic the gospel is and how much our Father wants us to be happy in this life.  Just an interesting thought I had.  President then talked about the growth of the church here and a bunch of new areas that are going to open up for missionary work soon.  He talked about some wards dividing and branches becoming wards, which got me really excited for the work.

We also had a baptism this week, we had it for the cousin of a member and it was awesome.  The spirit was so strong there and everyone was really excited.  We even had his cousin baptize him, which was really special.
Getting ready for the baptism.

Anyways this week was pretty good and nothing too crazy has happened.  Thanks for everything and I know you guys will be gone, but I hope I receive an email from you guys this upcoming week, if not I will probably cry a lot and just be a mess walking down the streets for the next week. You’ve been warned.

-Élder Johnson

Pizza makes me happy.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Some People

Well to start off this week, I spoke with some girl who got pregnant at age 14.  Kids these days.

This week was pretty good.  The work is going over well, we're having less actives returning and we had quite a few people at church yesterday.  We're teaching pretty well and things are generally going good down here. We are teaching one family, like complete family:  Mommy, Daddy, Son, Daughter, and Dog.  We're working to get them baptized this month, but we've got to get them married first, which is a bureaucratic nightmare.  They're really cool though, the ward likes them and anyone who enters the house, be it man or beast, the dad of the family always says "Hey, look at this guy, he's going to be a Mormon!!!"

It's pretty funny having Elder López as my companion, we always have conversations with people a little like this:

RANDOM GUY:    Hey! Where are you from?
ME:    I'm from America.
RANDOM GUY:    All right, and what about him?
ELDER LÓPEZ:    I'm from Argentina.
RANDOM GUY:    ...Man you're going to suffer here during the world cup.

We always have really good conversations with people because of the Brazil/Argentina soccer rivalry.

Some drunk guy stopped us the other day, asked us where we're from and he then asked me the following question:

DRUNK GUY:    Alright American, I have one question for you.
ME:    Okay.
DRUNK GUY:    Who is the king of Futebol.
ME:    Pelé

He then let out a little whimper and bowed himself in front of me and worshiped me as a king because I agreed with him and the rest of Brazil in agreeing that Pelé is the king of soccer.  He then proceeded to bag on Maradona, the disputed king of futebol from Argentina to Elder López.  We have a really good time talking with people.

We did however, not have a really good time talking to some other guy the other day.  We were about to teach this guy's mom and we were about to say the opening prayer when he just got up and said, "I don't agree with you Mormons and your Joseph Smith."  He then talked forever about the 6-day war that Jerusalem had and how god intervened.  He didn't tell me what that had to do with Joseph Smith, but I think he was just trying to make himself look smart.  Elder López and I then bore testimony to him and we were on our way.  While leaving his house he said something along the lines of "And now here you go.  You're all just going to continue being closed minded and you won't hear the truth."  I then told him if he just were to be just a bit more humble he could pray to God and get an answer, but he's just going to keep on being prideful.  I don't know, the mission has made me a bit more of direct person, which I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing.

All in all it was a good week, not as intense as last week, but it was good never the less.  I laughed pretty hard at the loss of dad's front tooth.  Sorry dad, but that's just too funny.  Did they hide rocks in the granola bar?  Have fun with your dead guy tooth, I'll just keep preachin' down here, until next week!!

Élder Johnson