Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I'm On A Rock...

…and you better believe it.

Well this week sure was an interesting one.  This week we had an integration activity at the church.  You don't really have these in the states, but they have them down here.  It's where you have someone give a spiritual message, and then afterwards, you have games and snacks.  The purpose is to have people bring investigators, get the members to be your friends, and what not.  This last week we were in charge of the games and I knew exactly what kind of game to play.  So here's the game.  You have two teams and they send a representative up to the chalkboard.  We give them something to draw like a dog, cat, or the mascot for the world cup, and they have to draw it.  While drawing, the teams must guess what they're drawing, whichever team guesses correctly first gets a point, and the game goes on for a few rounds until the missionaries have to go home.  Whoever has the most points wins.  Pretty simple game right?  Everyone should be pretty calm right?


People down here are soooooo competitive.  The second we said go everyone just starts screaming at the top of their longs trying to guess what João and Maria are trying to draw.  Everyone just gets way into it.  It was absolute chaos, everyone was weeping, wailing, and gnashing much teeth.  Everyone from the Primary to the Elders Quorum President. Naturally it was a total success and they want us to do it again this week.

I saw this decal on the back of a car that said "Oh Gloria Jesus é bom!"  The thing was as big as the window and I have no idea how this guy was able to look out of his rear view window.

We did have a baptism this week.  It was the grandson of a recent convert and he got to do the baptizing!!  It was super cool; the whole primary was there.  I swear! (Not really, Mormons don’t swear.) Every time it's a primary baptism there are always a ton of people there, but whenever it's someone else getting baptized it's rather difficult to get a good amount of people there.  It was really cute, the primary sang a song and the baptism went over well.  We had to fill the font up with buckets to get it filled on time, but it all went over well.

I also got to go on divisions this week.  While on the division in my area, we climbed up this red rock that we have in our area.  I've always wanted to climb up it, and so we did!  Usually there a lot of religious people up there praying/screaming and singing hymns and stuff.  We decided to take pictures!!! 

 They've got this cross up there that the Catholics put up and you could see the whole city!

  It was a good stress reliever.  We took some pics and got back to chugging along.

Anywho, that's it for this week.  We have Zone Conference this week so I'll get to see Elder Rutledge; it's been a while. Next week we also enter into the month of June, which means it's Festas Juninas/São João, so I'm pretty scared.  I'll try not to get blown up.  Anyways love you all and have a great week!

-Élder Johnson

P.S.  I finally bought a hammock!  I got it for 35 Reais too, which I feel is a bargain!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Well another week has come and passed and not a whole lot has happened this week.  I usually get one week that's really exciting and then the next week is just kind of boring.  We did get a referral from a member and he should be baptized this week so that'll be pretty cool!  Yeah for member missionary work!!!  Other then that we taught a bit, contacted some people, did some service, and just normal missionary stuff.  We did manage to bring about 6 people to church; the members really helped us out on that one.  It was ward conference this last week and down here ward conference is kind of a big deal.  For ward conference they make invites and set goals to have a certain amount of people there.  I really don't see what the big deal is though, because it's just like every normal Sunday, it's just that they do sustaining and have the ward choir sing.  Anyways, everyone used it as an excuse to invite their friends to church so I can't really complain about that can I?

Other than that, that's about it for all of the interesting things that have happened this week.

However, there are changes about.  The World Cup is getting closer and closer everyday and you can see the change around here.  Every day there's one more store or house that just decorates everything with green and yellow.  You're starting to see a lot more flags down here and everyone is getting more and more excited.  As exciting as the World Cup is, it's not going to be too fun for us missionaries because nobody is going to want to talk with us for a whole month.  People will also use the World Cup as an excuse to drink and throw fireworks (aka little bombs) at the missionaries.  Businesses will be closed during the games and the schools have planned to shut down completely until the World Cup is over with.  The World Cup is also in the month of June, which has "Festas Juninas," which is the biggest holiday in all of northeast Brazil, also known as "São João."  São João is just a month long party where everyone dresses up like the Brazilian version of the wild west, listens to forró, eats things made out of corn, drink, build fires in the middle of the road, and throw fireworks at the missionaries.  All in all it's a wonderful time filled with mass hysteria, cats and dogs livin' together and all sorts of chaos, which will be just splendid.

Anyways that's not for a few more weeks so I don't need to worry about.  Yet...  All is well down here; I'm happy and alive for now.  Hope all is well back home.


Elder Johnson

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Prayer Conquers Satan and So Does Elder Johnson

Well it sure was good to see all of you guys Sunday on Skype!!!  That's the last call you’re going to get on my mission so I hope you liked it!  Hope you had a happy mothers day Mãe!!!

Oh, it has also come to pass that I will be staying here for another transfer and I will be killing Elder Coon.  That'll make him the third missionary that I've killed.  I guess president really likes me doing that.

Well I hope that you all know, that I am very tired, this last week took a lot out of me.  

So here's the story.

For the past few weeks we've teaching this woman, her son is serving a mission and she's the only member of her family who hasn't been baptized.  She is very very catholic and didn't want anything to do with the church.  Well that changed a few months after her son left on a mission.  For some reason she just decided to read the Book of Mormon.  She just felt like that was a good idea and started reading it until one day she flagged down the missionaries on the street and asked to be baptized.  The other missionaries passed her to us and we've been working with her ever since.  Well here's the catch, every week something always happened to stop her baptism and it was getting rather frustrating.  Last week I wrote about how frustrating it was and how I drowned my sorrows in Açaí.  Well I thought maybe she was trying to hide from us.  Elder Coon thought it would be a good idea to keep trying and see if we can work a miracle.  We went to her house and we were able to talk with her.  Turned out she wasn't hiding from us, but had something come up the week before, so we marked her baptism for this Saturday.

I swear, something happened almost every day to keep her from getting baptized this last week, it was ridiculous.  We had an emergency Thursday night, but we managed to save it, she said she wasn't going to let anything stop her from getting baptized.

We then came up with a great idea.

So her son is serving a mission and this last weekend was mother's day, which means he could Skype home.  So we thought, "Hey! Why don't we have him Skype her during her baptism?  That would be pretty sick!!!"  So we got in contact with his mission and we managed to get everything set up.

Satan, however, had other plans.

Saturday, we get a text from her saying she can't get baptized.  We walk over to her house, save the day, and then go on our way to lunch.  As we were leaving lunch we called our Ward Mission Leader who happens to be a good friend of the family.  He tells us she decided to not get baptized.  We left her alone for 1 HOUR!!!!! 1 HOUR and look at what happened.  I naturally was upset and it manifested itself (aka light pathetic weeping.)  We walked over to her house and she wasn't there.  More weeping ensued.  Our Ward Mission Leader said he was going to hunt her down, so we did the only thing we could do, fill up the baptismal font and get the Skype ready.  We waited and waited and finally, a few hours after the planned baptism, she showed up!!!!  MIRACLES HAPPEN PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!  She came and was finally baptized!!!  Her son got to watch the whole thing on Skype and it appeared like something out of a movie just because of how well everything worked out.  Everyone was happy and this family is one step closer to being united.  It was probably one of the most eventful memorable baptisms of all time, but it was also the most stressful.  Anyways, they all lived happily ever after.

So yeah, besides talking with you all this week, that was probably the most eventful thing to happen.  It definitely left us exhausted.  Anywho, love you all and I hope you guys had a wonderful Dia das Mães. I know it was one to remember down here.  To send you all off this week, I'll give you guys a couple of examples of good parenting I have seen this week:

-A Woman teaching her son to urinate in the middle of the road.
-A Father driving a motorcycle, with his little baby standing up on the front holding on to the handlebars.

Oh, parenting...

-Élder Johnson

P.S.  Everyone down here says that Dad looks a lot like the ex-mayor of Aracaju, Edivaldo Nogueira.  I have to say, you two do look rather similar.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thieving Monkeys

Well this week was sure a lot more exciting than the last week was.

First off we have a member who has a problem with thieves breaking into her house and stealing her food.  The thieves happen to be monkeys however, and she can't leave bananas out on her table or the monkeys will sneak in and start eating them.  That's definitely a problem you don't have to worry too much about in the U.S.A.

It has also been rainy these past few days, which has been awesome.  I like the rain down here.  I'm currently on my third umbrella because the rain has wrought havoc on my past two and they, unfortunately, did not survive the Brazilian tempests.  It rains sideways here to most of the time, so the umbrella only really keeps the upper half of your body dry.  People down here have been complaining that it has been "cold" the past few days, and therefore are taking appropriate measures to keep warm, such as sleeping in: socks, gloves, and coats.  You probably think I'm joking around about people sleeping in coats but it is no lie!!  We were teaching this woman who said she had to sleep in such attire.  She told us that she was dying from the cold while me and my companion where sitting there drenched in our own sweat.


Oh I did something super adult like and mature the other day, I bought a washing machine!!!  Yep I went to the store and did all sorts of super cool financial and grown up stuff. (AKA pointing to which washing machine I wanted to buy.)  Yeah, our washing machine, unfortunately, reached the end of it's life the other day and stopped working so we had to buy another one, which should be arriving on Wednesday!!!

So here's a pretty interesting story.  The other week I did an interview for a man who was a candidate for baptism.  We reached a certain a part and realized that he would have to change the way he lived or he couldn't be baptized.  He decided that he would rather live his old lifestyle and I told him that he couldn't get baptized, and that was that.

Well that's what I thought at least.

Turns out that he started talking bad about me to a bunch of people, including some members.  He told some people that I phrased one of the standard baptismal questions in a very vulgar and very inappropriate way, which was an utter lie; I said it exactly as the question was written.  He then started saying that we were a cult and what not and it just got kind of crazy.  Turns out he didn't like the fact that I told him he couldn't get baptized so he started saying all of these mean and hurtful things.  Oh well, what are you going to do.

I also got to go on a division with one of the elders in my district to the city of Laranjeiras, which translates to Orange Trees.  The name of the city however, is very misleading, because there is not a single orange tree in the entire city.  THIS IS FALSE ADVERTISING!!!!  It was really cool, because it looks exactly like Viçosa!  Just more ghetto.  They've got this little group out there and they have their meetings in some guy's house and it's currently a little group with a lot of potential to grow.  I just thought it was cool because it reminded me of a past area.
A Cappella de Laranjeiras  (The Chapel of Oranges)

So now we're getting to the sad news of the week.  We had this baptism all prepared for this week, we were following up with here, everything was all set.  I was happy, Elder Coon was happy, she was happy.

Until Friday.

Friday the house fell down.  She disappeared off the face of the earth and no one has been able to find her, or talk with her since.  We showed up with the Zone Leaders to do the interview and alas she was not found.  We had faith that we would be able to find her on Saturday, the day of the baptism.  We even filled up the font as a demonstration of our faith.  However, she apparently had other plans and still hasn't shown up.  This naturally could be a big ol' slap in the face for my faith and self esteem, but it is all good, I did my part.

Needless to say, Saturday was a bit rough, we drowned our sorrows in Açaí and tried to teach some other lessons but alas, none could feel the gaping hole in my heart, which could only be filled by her baptism.  After a bit of light weeping, we did have a miracle in a different form.  Our recent convert, got up to bore her testimony during fast and testimony meeting and it was amazing!!!  Until now, she's already read:  The Book of Mormon almost twice,  The Gospel Principles manual,  Daughters in My Kingdom,  The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith,  The Pearl of Great Price, and is currently pounding down Doctorine and Covenants.  She got up a bared her testimony and she sounded like someone who has been a member for years.  She told everyone how she was searching for truth and to learn more and how God sent her two angels to come and show her the truth.  I was very happy.
The Acai I drowned my sorrows in.

So that about wraps things up for now.  This is the last week before transfers, because this transfer is only a transfer of four weeks. So we'll be working to end things on a high note.  Love you all, and just to let you know, that picture of the cast of the new star wars movie just made me tremble with excitement.
Star Wars 7 cast.
May the fourth be with you.

-Élder Johnson