Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Rain Came Down and No One Comes to Church

Elder Johnson's old companion Elder Coon came to drop off some of Tanner's things.
We couldn't resist having him take a photo with Flat Tanner, which he hates.  :-)

Another week has come and gone in good ol' Maceió Brazil.  Things are pretty much the same as ever.  Lots of walking around in the hot winter sun, crazy people talking with me on the streets, and all sorts of good times.

So we had a lady come to church yesterday.  She lives in a town called Coqueiro Seco, which is about an hour outside of the city. We've been teaching her at her work in our area and she came to church this week!  She went an hour out of her way to come to church and we didn't even think she'd come, so that's pretty cool.

This ward here is great.  It is definitely the most organized ward I've ever passed through.  People here are willing to help us and the bishop is awesome.  His focus is to get knew baptisms in the ward so I really can't complain about it.

One thing that is absolutely awful is when it rains.  When it rains, everyone uses that as an excuse to not come to church or do anything.  Rain = Excuses.  It could rain just a few drops and people would say that they couldn't come to church because of the rain. People could live across the street from the church and they wouldn't come because of the rain.  People could have a car! and they still wouldn't come because of the rain.  (That last example was a bit of an exaggeration.  I just wanted to let you know how soul killing it is whenever it rains).

We had our bimonthly integration activity this last week.  The members brought a few people for us and Elder Rutledge and I gave a message on the atonement and then we got to the games.  I love playing the integration activity games just because everyone gets super competitive.  We did Pictionary this week and it was a huge success.  Next time's activity:  Duck, Duck, Goose.  #BichoVaiPegar

Well it's election time again.  Well actually not, that's a lie, elections won't start until October, but apparently that's no excuse for everyone to start promoting themselves.  Elections here are different.  Everyone is required to vote, like, it's against the law and everything.  Also, the primary way of getting your name out there is not by television ads, or other forms of media, it is indeed, the good ol' fashioned Carro de Som.  A "Carro de Som" is a car that drives up and down the roads with a huge speaker on top of it. They usually are used to advertise local stores and what not, but when election time comes around, they double in number and they never stop.  During election time, they drive around playing a catchy little song, usually based on a popular song that has been twisted to advertise the candidate.  They drive up and down the road all day, and if I have to deal with this until the end of October I'm going to shoot myself in the foot.  One's capability of fulfilling public office is not based on past experience and work ethic, but is indeed based upon who has the most Carros de Som and whoever has the catchiest song.
Carro de Som

So we were walking down the road the other day after leaving an appointment when we heard a ruckus.  It sounded like a very violent and loud ruckus so we went to go check it out.  Turns out it wasn't any acts of violence, but it still was really loud, it turned out to be one of the popular local church chains having a meeting, so we thought we stand outside for a bit and watch.  Churches down here are different than they are in the states.  Here, churches that aren't Catholic churches, are usually made out of a house that someone had reformed to be a church.  Anyone can basically grab a microphone, a bible, open up the garage and call themselves a pastor.  The church that we were observing had lots of yelling and talking in strange tongues.  They were actually very nice to us though.  They told us we were welcome to come back anytime we wanted and that we could be counted as one of their own.  Very considerate if I do say so myself.  They did scream very loudly at us though telling us we needed to believe in Jesus Christ.  At least they were concerned for my own spiritual well being.

We played basketball at the church the other day.  That normally wouldn't be that big of a missionary update, but is here in Brazil.  I didn't do to bad if I do say so myself.  I scored a few points, which is pretty great for me and my handicap for any kind of physical activity, so Go Elder Johnson!!!!!

Anyways, that's enough for now, hope you all are happy and reading you scriptures.  All is well in Tabuleiro and I'm loving my time down here.  Love you all and have a great week!

-Élder Johnson

The Adventures of Ben and Dave

Monkey on a power line.

So this week I got to go on a division with good ol Elder Rutledge!  We went way to hard in the paint on the division.  We were able to find a new family to teach.  It's this guy who's been less active for quite some time and now he's decided it's time for him to come back to church.  He has 4 kids and a wife who aren't members so we'll see what we can do with them.  It's good to get the dream team back together every once in a while.

So good ol Elder Schmidt and I have been working pretty hard this past week.  It's been quite a bit of contacting, but it's been good.

So there's this one scripture that every quotes down here which says.  "Jesus disse:  Faça sua parte e eu te ajudarei."  Which translates to,  "Jesus said:  Do your part and I will help you."  It's a pretty good scripture, except for the fact that it doesn't exist.  I have searched the bible and I can assure you that said quoted scripture is none existent.  Nobody seems to have told that to a lot of the people down here.  Many people are thuroughly conviced that this is real scripture.  Sadly enough it's not.

Ever since we started a house dinner/breakfast calender I've learned how to make some food under the tuteladge of Elder Gross.  He knows how to cook really well and he's shared his secrets with me.  As of now, I have learned how to make pizza dough and coffee cake and they both turned out pretty well.

So yeah, I promise you that there were other things that happened this week but unfortunately I forgot my paper where I had everything written down, so everything will probably have to wait for next week.  Sorry about that.  I promise I'll write you a big long letter for next week.  Anyways, love you all and have a great week.

Elder Johnson

Brazilian Security

Guaraná can from the World Cup.

Thorn Tree

I have no idea what this is.

Monday, July 14, 2014


#JesusSalva  (Jesus Saves)

For those of you who didn't know this past week was the last week of the soccer World Cup and let's just say it didn't end too well for the people down here.  It's a rule that we can't be out on the streets during the game so all six of us were chilling in the house. The neighbors were blasting the Brazil vs. Germany game on their televisions so we could hear the whole thing.  Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany and boy did we hear it.  Every time Germany made a goal there were many cries of rage to be heard in the streets. Apparently losing the game 7-1 qualified to be "The Most Humiliating Loss in The History of Brazilian Soccer."  People were outraged at Brazil's humiliating loss, that was all we heard about for the rest of the week.  All of the comments on the road were such:

"Hulk lost every ball that was given to him!  How embarrassing!"

"Julius Cesar failed 7 times to save the ball!"

"Who decided to let Fred play for the Brazilian selection?"

These comments were reduced to much politer terms than what people really said.

Needless to say, no one was very happy with the whole ordeal.  After the game there was much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.  There was also a severe lack of fireworks going off that night.  I wasn't the most excited person for work the next day because everyone thinks we're German.  It also doesn't help that my companion is basically half German and roots for Germany.  We were protected though; nobody accused us of being German so all was well.

There were other things that happened this week besides the World Cup.  We were able to work rather well this week with what little time we did have.  It was a whole lot of contacting because we don't have a lot of members that live in our half of the ward. We did find a few people to teach and we ended each day exhausted.  There were, however, some very interesting people we spoke with, so lets talk about them!

We knocked on this one door looking for a recent convert that supposedly lived in the house.  We knocked on the door and someone told us that this guy didn't live there because in this house, only women live there.  There's just one thing though, this "woman" who answered the door, obviously wasn't a woman, but a man dressed up as woman.  It would've been a little more convincing, if s(he) didn't have a little beard, a fake high voice, and the overall masculine appearance.

There was also this guy walking his dog we talked with this week on the road.  We said hi to him as we were passing buy, when he said, "Who was Joseph Smith?"  That obviously, was not a very good indicator of how the conversation would go down.  He then told us that we were on the wrong path because Joseph Smith's name isn't in the bible, that we added to the bible, and the usual nonsense that people hear from the pastors.  We told him that he had been wrongly informed that we had answers to his questions, but he really didn't want answers to his questions, he just wanted to be a tool.  I told him that God personally showed me that this was the right path through divine revelation.  He told me to tell him of a spiritual experience and I told him that Jesus taught us to not cast pearls of great price to swine and that I wouldn't tell him anything that was sacred to me.  (Yeah I know it was a bit rough, but I was kind of ticked at him because he was being so ornery and mean.)  In the end we told him we'd see him at the second coming and that was that.  Ornery guy on the street 0,  Mormon missionaries 1.

We did however, meet a very nice man this week.  We knocked on his door and he told us to come inside.  He then gave me and my companion a glass of water and told us that we wouldn't be able to talk right now because he had a huge event to go to (the guy was really rich).  He told us he'd like us to come back and teach him and his family another day and he gave us his business card.  He then gave us a sample of some cologne and sent us on our way.  It's nice to know that there are people who really do practice their religion and the teachings of Christ these days.

So this wasn't something that happened to me, but it was a conversation that one of the other Elders had when he tried to call a referral he had received.

ELDER:   Hello is this so-and-so?
REFERRAL:   Yeah, who is this?
ELDER:   It's the missionaries from The Church of...
REFERRAL:   Yeah!  I got a question for you!!  What was the name of Jesus?
ELDER:   um..... Jesus?
REFERRAL:   No!  It is Yeshua!!!  You don't know anything.
ELDER:   All right have a good day.
REFERRAL:   If you come over to my house I will DESTROY YOU!!!!!

So there's this one recent convert in our ward, she's an older lady and let's just say she's not all the way there.  We're trying to help her stay firm in the church, but she's being rather resistant about the whole ordeal.  She's been going to church for about 8 months and has yet to learn the bishops name.  She asked my companion and I to find a husband for her.  She also called me ugly and told me that my companion is a lot better looking than I am.  She asked me for my pen so she could kiss it repeatedly.  We have very interesting conversations with her.

The crazy things Joel said this week:

1.  ME:  Hey Joel, do you want to go do baptisms for the dead?
     JOEL:  If you give me R$1000 I'd be baptized as many times as you want me to.

2.  I had a hard day.  I went to go talk with one of the brothers from another church and he told me he
     never wants me to bring the  missionaries over here because they're all spies for the US.

3.  I don't have any support in the other churches, whenever I try to say something during one of the
     meetings, they knee me in the groin.

He also came up with the plan for us to "speak in tongues" at one of the other churches.  It's very popular for churches down here to speak in tongues and Joel wanted us to come with him to one of the churches to speak in tongues on the stage and to basically make fun of them.  We thought it wasn’t probably the best idea in the world, but I did get to practice having a conversation with Joel in tongues.  It was pretty funny.

So ever since I've gotten to be with good ol' Elder Rutledge, we've been doing some serious exercises in the morning.  I know, you probably thought that you'd never hear the phrase "Elder Johnson does exercises" spoken out loud before and believe it or not it is true (stop laughing).  It's great because Elder Rutledge really pushes me and it's actually starting to pay off.  I have muscle for the first time in my life!!!  It ain't a lot, but I can't complain.  I've never had muscle before in my whole entire life.  I've actually really started to enjoy it and it's paying off a bit.  As of right now, I'm no Matthew McConaughey, but hopefully one day my whole body, and not just my legs, will be worthy of that of a Greek Deity.

All right, I've written enough, hope all is well back home.  Try not to wreck the car again mom, you're running out of transportation options.  Anyways, love you all and have a great week!

-Élder Johnson


Brazilian road construction (and you think it's inconvenient in Utah.)
Me parting the road.

This lady walks down the road selling Sururu (tiny mussels like oysters).  She carries it on her head
 and strangely yells "oooOOOOOOoohhhh SURURU!!!"  It's a very big distraction during study time.

Protected 24 hours by God

This lady said we were going to Jesus for lunch and I didn't understand what that was, lo and behold
 it was Guaraná Jesus, the famous soda from the Brazilian state of Maranhão.  You can really only
 get it there and it tastes nothing like Guaraná, but more like bubblegum.  It was good
though and probably the only time in my life that I'd be able to try it, so I was happy. 
We drank Jesus.

The power went out so I took a picture of our candle.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Born In The USA

American nap.
Well it was another week in paradise.  Unfortunately my time with Elder Rutledge came to an end this week.  There was an emergency transfer and they had to move some things around, so sadly Rutledge and I had to part ways and we got new companions.  It was all really sad, filled with much shedding of tears, and sobbing.  It's all good though.  He just moved over another house and down the stairs, so we basically still live together, so it's all cool still.  My new companion is Elder Schmidt and no he isn't American.  My companion is from Porto Alegre, a city in the south of Brazil, and his dad is German.  He's really cool and we get along really well.  So now there are 6 missionaries living together and it's all just a great time.

So we celebrated the 4th of July this week.  Rutledge and I decided to celebrate it by making a full on Brazilian lunch. We made, beans, rice, the whole shebang!  It actually turned out pretty good for two Americans who have no idea how to cook like a Brazilian.  I was pretty proud of our efforts.
American missionaries idea of a Brazilian lunch.
We then had to drive down to the bus station to pick up my companion, and once we got him, we went over to the mission office to wait until Rutledge's companion arrives.  Mind you this was during the Brazil vs. Colombia game and Brazil happened to make a goal while we were there.  We were up on the fifth story of this office building and we could hear the festivities taking place on below.  We could see the fireworks going off and everyone celebrated this small victory that Brazil had won.

We then headed back to our area and it was all super weird.  There was absolutely no one on the streets.  What normally would've taken almost an hour of traveling only lasted about 15 minutes because we were basically the only car on the whole road.  The only people outside were gas station attendants.  They had propped a TV on a gas pump and they were watching the game too!  And they were getting rather into it too.  When we got back home we all ate hamburgers and had a very patriotic time.  #Murica.

The rest of the week consisted of me getting lost in my area because I still don't know it all yet.  Things are going pretty well though down here.  I'm pretty sure that I saw a church other than ours this week that had a really big painting of Joseph Smith on the inside, but I'm not quite sure though.  If it is so, then we just need to show up there and we will baptize like 40 people very easily.

There was this car that went flying down the road this week and nailed this speed bump.  That was pretty interesting. Other than that it was pretty much just a normal week, nothing too interesting happened.  Hopefully things should be going better this next week.  All is well down here in Tabuleiro.  Hope you all enjoyed the 4th of July.  You guys don't know how blessed you are to be an American.  Have a great week.  Tchau!

-Élder Johnson