Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hood Lyfe

I didn't choose the thug life, the thug life chose me.

Well things are pretty great here in the Hood.  We had a pretty great week.  It was a lot of work with few results, but it's all good, there's always next week.  The ward wanted us to hunt down some less actives so they can clean out the ward directory so we can know if these people really live there or not.  We didn't find a ton of people.  We did however, manage to find one less active!!! (This list had about 20 names on it).  She was an old lady and said she'd never heard of the church and that she's always been Catholic and has never left the Catholic Church.  We repeated the name on the list back to her and we were confirmed that it really was her, which means:

A.  She doesn't remember.
B.  She's lying...

I'm pretty sure option B is the most likely.

The stake held a talent show this week.  They did a pretty good job.  We spent a lot of time this week inviting people to come to the talent show but alas, no one showed up.  #ImNotCrying

There was something pretty interesting that happened to us this week.  We were walking down the stairs into the Grota when about 15 soldiers from the National Guard came running up the stairs.  They all had M16's and seemed to be in quite a hurry.  One of the soldiers was running up the stairs when he saw this guy just standing there.  The soldier pointed his gun at the man and told him to put his hands on his head.  He insisted that he was cool and that everything was chill, but the soldier wasn't going to believe any of that.  He ordered him again to put his hands on his head and then one of the other soldiers, who happened to be a woman, pushed the guy against a wall and he got a pat down.  The guy seemed to have nothing on him so everyone just decided to leave.  I thought it was pretty cool.  Apparently the police were looking for someone.  I love my area.

So on a more spiritual note, I was reading a talk from Elder David A. Bednar this week that I really liked that he gave last general conference.  He said the following:

“There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first.  In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like.  No one understands.”  But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens.  And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy.  He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power.  Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.”

Just goes to show you that our Savior really went through everything that we went through.  He knows us perfectly and understands us better then we understand ourselves.  A lot of people just think that God wants to take away all of our suffering and just put an end to everything.  When really that was never His intention, but that He would walk the path with us, and feel as we feel.  We can become better and stronger because of our trials and become the person that God intends for us to be.  Christ promised to share the load with us, and not to just take it all away and make our lives easy and comfortable.  It was never easy and comfortable for Him, why would it be so different for us?

Well that's it for now.  I'll try to send pictures, but the computers here are being dumb.  Anyways, love you all and have a great week!!!

Elder Johnson

I didn't choose the mission life, the mission life chose me.

I really like this video called "The Hope of God's Light."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Holy Ridiculous Amount of Grotas Batman!!!!

An example of a small Grota.

Well, here I am.  I've been officially transferred to the Jacintinho Ward in the Maceió Pajuçara Stake.  It's pretty cool here.  Of all the areas that I've passed through, this one is the one that makes me feel like I'm in a completely different world.  It's not the richest area in the world and everything goes really quickly.  There's lots of traffic, people in the streets, and random people selling things on the side of the road.

Like this last week.  We were walking down the road and I was trying to pass by this fruit stand on the side of the road. This was rather difficult because there was a semi-truck going down a street, that was way to small for it, driving on the wrong side of the road.  So I was like sandwiched between a fruit stand and this semi-truck just hauling down the road, there was only like two inches of space between the truck, the fruit stand, and I, and it just squeezed right on by like it was something completely normal.

There are also a ton of Grotas here too.  Our area is basically like a mountain. We live on top of the mountain on the slopes going down to the valleys or the ocean is just a ton of houses that people have just built there.  There are a ton of stairs going hither and thither, tight alleyways, ridiculously steep hills, tons of music, partying, and very obscure entrances to houses.  I've had a Grota in one of my past areas, but that one was tiny, these ones are HUGE!!!!  I'm loving every minute of it.  You feel like you're entering a different world when you go in.  You walk over a bunch of poorly made bridges, and if you don't watch your step going down the stairs, you'd fall off a cliff.  Pretty neat if I do say so myself!!!

My area is also super close to the beach.  If I get up on top of a house or something, I can see the ocean.  So just to let you know, this transfer will probably have a lot of pictures of the beach and Grotas.  My district is pretty small too; it's just my companion and I, and one companionship of sisters.

My companion is Elder Ortiz, from Lima Peru.  He's trilingual, he can speak, Spanish, Portuguese, and English all pretty well.  He's super funny and super excited.  He also is pretty new on the mission; his other three companions didn't train him so I'm going through the training with him rather quickly.  I like my companion, he's pretty cool.

Also, on my last day with good ole' Elder Rutledge, we had a good time making pizza, we've gotten rather good at it.

So yeah, I'm liking the new area a lot.  We're working with a lot of less actives and recent converts to help them out with staying firm in the church.

So I heard a pretty ridiculous rumor the other day.  Someone told us that they heard that our church likes to take pictures of Jesus and stab it with knives.  I have to admit, that one was getting kind of ridiculous, I have no idea where people are coming up with this kind of stuff.

That's all for now, I'll try to send some pictures.  I love you all and have a great week.  I'll be trying not to fall to death or get ran over by cars this week.   #OneStepAtATime  #PegaoRut

Elder Johnson

Monday, August 11, 2014

O Capeta

Hello there family, friends, and strangers I've never met.  How are you all?  I'm doing pretty great.  I just got the news that I'm getting transferred.  I thought it was super weird that I was already getting transferred.  I've only been in this area for a transfer and they're already pulling me out.  Oh well, whatever the Lord wants right?

So there were some rather interesting things that I saw this week; the first one being a singing garbage man.  Here whenever the garbage is collected there are like four guys running behind the garbage truck hurling bags of trash inside the truck.  One of the guys running behind the truck liked his job a little too much and was singing opera music rather loudly.  I don't know whether to find it a rather odd sight, or to be impressed because he was actually pretty good.

The second interesting thing happened during a lesson.  We were teaching this lady inside her house and I was sitting on a chair in front of the front door, looking out into the street.  The lesson was pretty normal until this lady, who was walking down the middle of the street, stopped and looked at us.  That lady was creepy!  She just stared at us for a good four minutes.  I felt like I was in a horror movie, she just looked irate and was distracting me from my lesson.  #oCapeta

So we're helping this guy Daniel come back to church, his wife and four kids aren't members, so we can reactivate him and baptize everybody in the family.  We brought Daniel to the church twice to play soccer with the other men, so he could get integrated in the ward and make a few friends.  While we were there, a few of the neighborhood children came to visit the church.  They just waltzed right in and started playing around and talking with us.  They were all between the ages of 8-10 and they gave us some very good insight as to what people think about us.  Here's a rough outline of what they told us:

"My cousin says you guys are a cult!"

"I heard guys worship O Capeta°"

"This one soap opera that I watched said that cults plan on killing people."

°Portuguese side note:  The phrase, "O Capeta" means "The Devil" it's just kind of a super ghetto way of saying it.

But we did manage to change their opinions though, luckily for us.

One thing I did learn that day is that there might be some differences between Brazil and the USA.  Even in the church there are a few differences here and there, but there is one thing that doesn't change.

Church ball.

Church ball may be played as soccer down here, but the result is the same:  profanity, yelling, and much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.  People get freaking ticked with church sports and it doesn't matter where you're at in the world.  Even the referee was getting irate at everyone else too.  Some things just don't change.

So this week was my last division with Elder Rutledge.  We got quite a few investigators together, it seems that I always have the most success whenever I'm working with him. After a long day of work, we were walking by this church when we decided to enter and talk with the pastor.  This church had just finished building a replica of Solomon's Temple in São Paulo and we wanted to know what it was all about.  The pastor turned out to be pretty chill.  We talked with him for quite some time about religion and northeast Brazil.  He gave us some souvenirs and we ended up teaching him about The Book of Mormon, so now I can say that I've taught a pastor on my mission.  He was really cool and offered to help us out with anything we needed.  He even wanted to take us to go visit other parts of Alagoas with him, sadly though we had to decline.

Well I think that's about it.  You all now get to play the "Where in the world is Elder Tanner Johnson" game.  Whoever guesses which ward I'm going to gets 10 Reais.

-Elder Johnson

P.S.  Feliz dia dos pais.  Father's day is on a different date down here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tis Blasphemy!!!!

Well, where to start?

This week was a pretty normal week in most respects.  It was just another seven days in Tabuleiro, there were however, a few interesting things that did happen.

There was this rather irritating fellow that I met the other day.  We knocked on this door and this guy came out.  Let's just say he wasn't the most impressive fellow in the world, starting off with the fact that he left half of his lunch on his beard, probably trying to save it for later.  We tried to contact the guy, but he wasn't going to have any of that.  He tried to convince us that the name of god was Adonnai.  He then told us that Mary's name wasn't in fact Mary, but Madelena. He then denied the Christ right before my eyes and told me that Jesus wasn't a savior and that he basically didn't do anything for our salvation.  Pretty rough words against the Savior if I do say so myself.  Such blasphemous speech will not be tolerated in these parts.  He really wasn't interested so we went on our way.

This sister in the ward gave us sandwiches for lunch the other day, which is a very blasphemous thing to do down here. Here, it's beans and rice everyday, not because they have no other choice, but because they absolutely love it.  Don't get me wrong, I love a nice plate of beans and rice, but after a while you need a break.  She decided that since half of us were Americans, she'd give us sandwich making material.  She dropped liked 75 Reais, and gave us a ton of food, it was glorious and patriotic.

So one of our investigators got his hands on an Anti-Mormon magazine the other day that some church published.  It was actually really pathetic.  They said we didn't believe in Christ as our Savior, that we worship other gods, and of course, my personal favorite: that we believe that Jesus was a polygamist and that he married both Martha and Mary, and really wanted to get married to Mary Magdalene but that it didn't really work out.  It also said that we hate black people.  Our investigator knew that it was just trash because he lives right across the street from the bishop, who just happens to be black.

Fast and Testimony meeting was intense this week; and in case if you were all wondering, fast and testimony meeting can indeed, be intense.  One of the young men in our ward has yet to be baptized because his mom is kind of against the church, she just happened to come to church today, and he bore testimony on how the church has helped him and about the importance of family.  She has since changed her mind about the whole baptismal issue.  There's this one guy who has been coming to church for about a year and he brought his parents with him.  He got up front and started talking about the importance of family and forgiveness.  It was all very touching and he made his parents cry.  I was very pleased with the results of this Sunday.

So it just goes to show you that you never know what the power of a testimony can do.  Your own personal testimony can change the lives of people.

I feel that since I've gone on the mission, I'm starting to see the world different.  I don't really know how to explain it.  It seems that just my priorities have changed in life and I'm starting to see what's really important and what it really means to live a successful life.  I'm grateful for this opportunity and I'm loving every minute of my time down here.  Love you all and have a great week.

-Élder Johnson