Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday.

Distrito Beira Jacintiuca

Sorry tudo mundo.  This email is going to be kind of scattered this time around.  I apologize if my ranting doesn't make any sense.

This week was pretty great.  Elder Ortiz and I are on fire.  Our lessons have become super spiritual and we're working really hard.  I sure am enjoying my time here in Jacintinho.  Right now we're trying to convince our recent convert that he wants to serve a mission.  He says he doesn't know and that he'll have to ask God.  I can accept that answer, because I already know what he's going to say in reply.

So now we enter into a whole new world or randomness.

So there's this one guy in our area who makes the best churros on the face of the planet.  He fills them with doce de leite and I just about die from a mixture of pure joy and an overly excessive amount sugar.  He sells them for R$ 1, which is a bargain.  Elder Ortiz and I did the math and man does that guy make a ton of money off of selling churros.  The guy is famous and everyone buys from him.  I guess if life in the states doesn't work out, I could come down here and sell churros, apparently there is a ton of money to be made out of it.

There's this one street in our area where I'm convinced that all the crazy people are forced to live there.  Like this other day we were teaching a lesson on the road and this guy came up to us and started teaching along with us.  He seemed like a very spiritual guy so we asked him about the importance of prayer.  He then gave us an example about how all of our fingers are different and somehow that means prayer is only prayer if 4 people are praying at the same time.  He then grabbed our hands and started to pray.  We were later informed by him that he had seen the second coming and he saw a bunch of blood evaporate into the sky.  People.....

This week I took the time to study the priesthood in depth.  It was a pretty great experience.  I feel like I understand all of the organizational aspects of the priesthood melhor (better).  

We taught this really cool guy at a restaurant the other day.  We ordered our food and then he started asking us a bunch of really good questions.  The guy was really smart, he studied Greek and Hebrew so he could read the bible in the way it was written.  He asked a bunch of questions and wasn't judgmental at all.  Way cool guy!

I have this problem with calling everyone "Mo Fio" I really need to stop.

Because my area has some parts that really reminds me of India, I witness some pretty interesting things.  The other day for example.  We were walking down the road and it is very common for there to be huge traffic jams on the main road of the neighborhood.  To be completely fair, the road is a tad bit small for all the cars to pass through.  However, that is no excuse for when everyone gets stuck in the road to hold a horn honking competition, to see who can honk their horn: the most, the loudest, and the most obnoxious way possible.  I always know when there's a traffic jam in the morning.  I live like a kilometer away from that road but I can still hear all of hubbub.

I had a dream the other day.  I dreamed Elder Ortiz and I were contacting people on the beach and then this one guy on a motorcycle drove up to me and wanted to steal my camera.  I wasn't quite ready to make that sacrifice so I ran.  Unfortunately for me, Elder Ortiz stayed behind and decided to chat it up with said hooligan and give him the address to our house.  Needless to say I wasn't the happiest fellow on the beach.  The next thing I know, I'm in my house and I see that guy pull up and he tries to break down the door.  I run down the stairs to secure the door in place when the guy opens the door and stabs me about half an inch into my diaphragm with a butter knife.  Naturally I was rather peeved at him and I shooed him away into the night.  

Speaking of violence, Tuesday was a very violent day.  I heard a series of gunshots on three occasions.  When we were walking home we came upon a multitude of people surrounding a few police cars.  The police cars then took off down the road.  We asked onlookers what had happened and apparently the police went to go take some guy who just got shot in the face to the hospital.  The guy got shot in the face and he was still kickin!!  What a trooper!!!  #OnlyInJacintinho

The election situation is getting ridiculous.  I'm so tired of the sound cars driving around the neighborhood blasting advertisements.  There was this one guy who was advertising in the middle of the street.  He was on top of his truck yelling at people why he should get elected.  He said a lot of things like:

"I am not a clown!"

"I will not clown around when I'm in office!"

"So what if I worked as a clown!  I'll be a better politician!"

"I graduated from college with a degree in architecture and marketing!!!  I'm educated!!!  So please everyone!!! Stop calling me a clown!!"

I had to go down into the grota the other day during the middle of a power outage.  Sketchiest. Thing. Ever.  Apparently to do so is not a very wise idea, but we had a lesson to teach!  We almost fell down the stairs, but in the end we survived and our investigators came to church.

All right.  I'm out of stuff for this week.  Sorry it was super long.  I'm going to go walk along the beach, hoping that my companion doesn't give our address to would be no-good-doers.

-Élder Johnson

Brazilian Pizza.  And yes, the slice on the right is indeed bacon pizza.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Another Week in Brazil

Well the transfer has come and it looks like I'll be staying here for another transfer with Elder Ortiz.  This is my second to last transfer now.  Weird....

This week was pretty cool.  We had Zone Conference with President Gomes.  They talked a lot about how to work with members and how we should work with less actives and recent converts.  I got to see Elder Oliveira, my second companion here in Brazil, bare his final testimony.  I feel like everyone I once new on the mission has since gone home and I don't know any of the missionaries anymore.  Next Zone Conference I'll be baring my farewell testimony. Weird....

Speaking of conference, I'm super excited for General Conference.  Ever since I went on my mission I have gained a new found love for General Conference.  Conference gets me amped.

The other day while we were inside studying we heard a ruckus.  When we looked out to see what the said ruckus was, we saw this huge parade going down the road.  The local Catholic Church had put on a procession for Mary and there were a ton of people walking down the road with all sorts of instruments, flags, and other stuff.  They had this huge bloco, (bloco is this truck that's like 15 ft high, made entirely out of speakers, and have people partying on top.)  Blocos are usually used for parties or small concerts but they were using it to play hymns.  You don't see that everyday in Utah.

So this week we had a baptism for our friend Mike.  It went over pretty well.  We had a lot of the youth at the baptism and he was really excited for it.  He was really big so I was put in charge of baptizing him.  I wasn't quite sure that I would be able to baptize him because he is significantly taller than me.  It all worked out well in the end and the baptism went over well.

Well that's it for now.  Nothing too out of the ordinary happened this week.  Anyways, love you all.  Have a great week!

-Élder Johnson

Monday, September 15, 2014

I Am Elder Johnson, Mixer of Cement

Hey Everybody!!!!

This week was pretty interesting.  I was a "Pedreiro" which means "Brick Layer."  For those of you who don't know, all the houses down here are constructed using red bricks.  My life is filled with red bricks, all I see everyday is red bricks. So there is this member who asked us last Sunday if we could help him with a construction project at his house.  He said we'd "Bater um Laje."  What in the world does that mean you might ask?  That means we were going to help the guy install his brick/cement ceiling.  Everyone told me that this task was something really heavy and really exhausting and last Wednesday I figured out just how heavy and just how tiring it really is.  I got to mix a bunch of cement in the road with a hoe and I also got to take all the cement I made and carry it up to the second floor of this guy's house.  Cement is heavy!  Really heavy!  I swear, (figure of speech, missionaries don't swear), I must have carried two tons of cement that day.  Needless to say I was very dead for the rest of the day.  It was a good experience though.

Oh, it turns out that one of our investigators is likely to be schizophrenic.  Which makes progression kind of a challenge.

I also talked with a lady this week who said she grew up in the "Sertão Brabo."  The "Sertão Brabo" means in the middle of the desert.  She told me where she grew up, they didn't have water or electricity and that they had to go to another town to wash their clothes.  She told me that the town she grew up in is governed by a local Indian tribe and that they have conflicts with some of the farmers who try and take their land.  She said that they'd have little wars and that the Indians would attack the farmers with spears, bows and arrows.  Mind you this was like ten years ago and people still wage wars with spears.  I thought it was worth noting.  You don't hear stories like that everyday.

I hate it when I have conversations like this:

SOME GUY:   Hey!  Are you from Italy?
ME:   No, I'm from The USA.
SOME GUY:   Oh all right...

1 minute later.

SOME GUY:   So what's it like in Italy?
ME:   I told you, I’m not from Italy, I'm from the US.
SOME GUY:   Oh sorry...

1 minute later.

SOME GUY:   So did you leave your family behind in Italy?
ME:  No, I left them in America.

30 second later.

SOME GUY:   .....So how long was the flight from Italy to Brazil?
ME:  (face palm)  It took about 10 hours to fly down here from Italy.

There's literally no way of winning these kinds of discussions and they happen rather frequently.

Well this next week we should be having a baptism.  Praying that everything goes well.  Love you all!!!  Have a great week!!!

Só Batiza e Edifica!!!!!!  (Only Baptize and Build!!!!)

-Élder Johnson

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mountains To Climb

Hey everybody!!!!

This week was really great.  We had our "Mission Tour" with Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis of the First Quorum of the Seventy.  "Mission Tour" is something that happens once a year where a member of the Seventy comes and holds a meeting with all of the missionaries.  He will talk about what we need to do better and how to improve and what not. Mission Tour was pretty cool.  Elder Aidukaitis is super funny and was just cracking jokes the whole time.  He did call us to repent of our sins and disobedient behavior and stuff.  It was pretty cool.  I learned a whole lot and we put into practice the stuff he had taught and it sure helped out a lot.
Mission Tour with Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis

So we had a miracle yesterday.  Somebody came to church, alone, in the rain.  Ladies and Gentlemen this right here is a true miracle!!!  I've never seen that happen before in 20 months of serving a mission.  Miracles are real people!!!!

There's this one member here.  He's either absolutely crazy, or he might be a genius.  I'm not quite sure yet....

Last P Day we got permission to leave our area and walk on the road that runs along the beach.  It was pretty cool.  The beach here is absolutely beautiful.  Apparently the beaches here in the state of Alagoas were voted to be the most beautiful beaches in all of Brazil. 

It's a shame I'll never get to actually go to the beach or touch the sand, as a matter of fact.  Anywho, it was all really cool.  We walked for a bit, took some pictures, drank coconut water out of the coconut, and just enjoyed life.

So here's a pretty interesting experience.  This week we were called to give a blessing to a woman not of our faith who was very sick.  We went to go give her a blessing and oh boy was she sick.  Here is a list of her ailments:

Swollen Heart
Kidney Problems
Bad Circulation
And at least another four that she mentioned but I just can't recall right now.

Obviously not the healthiest person in the world.  I'm pretty sure a combination of all of this stuff is almost lethal.  She said, however, that the worst problem of all was that she was a little over weight.  When she told us that she just started sobbing.  She told us about how she wants to be thinner and look better.  We gave her a blessing and afterwards she went outside the house and started to talk to her mom and she just started crying again saying how much she doesn't like herself.

Imagine that.  She had so many health problems and the worst thing was, was that she couldn't love herself.  Talk about damage to the soul.

I also talked with a member down here who has some pretty severe social problems.  He has problems interacting with people and getting along with others.  When I spoke with him he just told me how everything was his fault and how nobody loves him.  I felt bad for those two people.  I mean it's one thing to be sick or have something else bad happen to you, but if you can't love yourself or have other psychological problems, that must be real pain.

There's this one Mormon message I really like called "Mountains to Climb" which was based on a talk by Henry B. Eyring. He talks about our afflictions and how the atonement heals us.  That through the atonement we may become acquainted with "A man of sorrows" (Isaiah 53:3).  Life is rough, but with the Savior it is possible as He said in DC 61:36:

“And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you;”

Truly the Lord has not forsaken us so be of good cheer!

Well that's it for now.  I love you all.  Hope everything is well back home.  Until next week!!!

-Elder Johnson

Chimarrão a member shared with us. 
We drank chimarrão and talked deep doctrine.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Distrito Jacintiuca
Elder Ortiz and I.

Hey everyone!!!!  How is it going!!!!!  So mother, to respond to your questions:

I'm pretty great.

Yea, I'm liking my new area.

I am keeping up on the exercises.

And yes, going up and down stairs all day is a pretty great work out.

Things here in the Jacintinho Ward (Jah-seen-cheen-nyo) are pretty great.  I'll start off with a pretty inspirational story.

So this week we were walking down the road.  We had been having a hard time with finding people who really wanted to hear the gospel.  We were just struttin' down the street, minding our own business, when we heard someone behind us say, "Vocês são os Mormon né?"  Why yes!  We are the Mormons.  Turns out it was this lady who just moved to Maceió from Rio de Janeiro.  She had previously been investigating the church there until she moved here.  She had thought that the church didn't exist here in Maceió but lo and behold it does.  She started talking to us about how she wants to become a member and how she wants to become a missionary.  We taught her about the Book of Mormon and we told her to pray about it and that we'd come back the next day.  We came back the next day and she had a dream.  I've never met someone who had a dream as an answer to a prayer, let alone just after saying one prayer.  So we've marked her baptism and my companion and I are elated.

So there's this one recent convert here in the ward, she's really cool.  She's a theater/art teacher at a local school and is also a professional actress.  She’s only been a member for like four months in the church and she's already the Young Women's president. She has quite a few tattoos and is super spiritual and smart.  With our lessons with her, we just have super philosophical and profoundly spiritual discussions.  Elect people exist!!

So we were down in the bottom of the Grota this week leaving a lesson with a less active when we rounded the corner and found this party.  It was a pretty big party, but I feel that Nephi has the best description of how it was:

And they began to make themselves merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness,

Much rudeness indeed...

Another Grota

Some people take soccer way too seriously.  There's this one family we are teaching and the six-year-old son is a fanatic for the Brazilian soccer team.  He especially loves Davi Luis and has his hair done as such.  They were telling me that during the game where Brazil lost 7-1 against Germany, Davi Luis got on the ground and just started to cry.  Apparently this was way too much for this little kid's eyes to witness and he started freaking out.  He freaked out so much that he started slamming his head against a wooden table with so much strength that they had to take him to the hospital so the doctors could reduce the swelling this poor kid had caused to himself.

Soccer man....

Well that's it for now.  Things are going well for now.  I love you all and have a great week!

-Elder Johnson

P.S. Iápois is Alagoan slang for the phrase "for sure" and it's very common for people to say this.

View from my house.
Another view from my house.