Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hey everyone! I'm just about heading out for a trip to Dourados, so I havn't got a lot of time. But, my Christmas was wonderful, and we're looking foreward to a great New Years as well.

We've recently been trying to use the new year to our advantage, talking about new starts, and important decisions. We're teaching a lot of people that really need to make some big changes, and now with 2015 around the corner now is the time to make them! 

Happy New Year to you all!!!
2015 here we come!!!!

Elder Johnson

We spoke with Justus via Skype for Christmas.  He loves the mission and is doing well.  He expressed his desire to extend his mission by 6 weeks which means he might not return until mid September.  More from Justus:
  Hey everyone! I loved seeing you all on Christmas, and I hope that next time we can organize a better time for you all. The past week wasn't super productive because of Christmas smack dab in the middle, but we did our best and were able to help people get to church. 
Today me and my companion are leaving to do some long distance divisions, and we'll only get back in our area Dia 1 de Janeiro. But, I'm excited to get to know some new areas and new missionaries!

1 & 2. Christmas eve with Members
3. Christmas presents!!!!! (the shirt is a gift from some investigatos, don't worry I don't use it to go prostlyting...yet :)
4. the killer Braziliancat!!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Well, Christmas is here again! I can hardly beleive that a whole year has past since I was there celebrating my first Christmas away from home in Texas. This past week, we had a great Christmas conference, and sadly, some big dissapointments this weekend. BUT, who can be sad at Christmastime!? 

The Christmas Conference was this past Thursday, and it was great to get together with so many missionaries. Here we have seperate conferences in the North and South, and so we had all the missionaries here in the South together. During the conference we learned about being a more consecrated missionary, and we studied a powerful talk by Tad R, Callister. The talent show afterward was a blast! Our zone did a missionary version of "A Christmas Carol". And to end the conference, we presented a new mission song!

But, unfortunetaly, as the week went on, we ran into more and more moleza. Saturday just about all of our appointments fell through, and on Sunday we were only able to scrape up one investigator to go to church. ALL the families that we had been teaching throughout the week dropped off the face of the earth, including the couple with a baptismal date for the 27th. But, it happens...

Despite the remarkable lack of progress in our investigators, we're still excited and working hard. After all, it is the season to be jolly! Christ gave so much to us, it's the least we can do to use this time to give just a little bit back.  
Merry Christmas to all! 

Elder Justus Johnson 

picture below: the three remaining "sons" of Contor...RIP

Other friends at the Christmas Conference 
1. a house we destroyed
2. big toad

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hey everyone! It has been quite a week. With transfers, there have been many missionaries coming and going to and from Campo Grande. As the missionaries who live closest to the bus terminal, my companion and I were responsable for receiving and sending each and every one of them. So, we spent the first two days of our week running to and from the station, once even at 4o'clock in the morning. Talk about sleep deprivation.

One of the missionaries that arrived was one fresh from the US. He spent a day with us trying to get him registered here in Brazil, and it was quite the experience. I was reminded of when I got here. I didn't understand anything and I must have seemed so lost!! 

Even with the transfer craziness, we were still able to keep up with our progressing investigators. It was great to teach and help J prepare for his baptism this Saturday. He accepted the commandments so humbly and sincerely!! I was struck by his "broken heart and contrite spirit". It was wonderful being able to see him in white!

As is now the standard, I also spent a number of days in division this week. I was able to work with my new LD, who just happens to be an old companion of mine, Elder T!! We had a number of great lessons, in particular a lesson with a part member family. The father of the family is a great guy, but as of yet he's never wanted to go to church or get baptized. We had a great experience as us missionários, along with his his son testified about the blessings of having the Sacerdócio in the home. This father was touched, and finially expressed interest in applying the Gospel in his life as an example for his family.

I am so grateful for the blessings of the Gospel and the Preisthood in my family. It's real and true!

Ate mais!

Elder Justus Johnson

Friday, December 5, 2014

Wow, what a week. Let me try and actually remember what all happened.

We started off the week with a division in this tiny little city called Terenos. The mission recently opened up a group there, and so we spent a day with the Elders there. I loved the small-town feel, and I learned a lot from the division. We got back to  Campo Grande and I spent a whole day working in our area, before heading off again on Thursday for two more divisions. Lets just say that I'm now familiar with a bunch of different areas here in Mato Grosso do Sul. 

I joined my companion again on Saturday to try and pass by all the people that we wanted to invite to church, but NO

ONE was home...it happens I guess. However, the day ended on a happy note with the baptism of M. She is such a joyfull old lady that has been through a lot. It was touching to see her make a decision in her life that will bring her even closer to Christ.

This week was the start of a new program that the missionaries will use leading up to Christmas-"He is the Present" This short video explains that Christ was the first and most important Christmas gift ever given. We presented the video to a number of members, and as we did, I thought about how I am using "the present" in my mission now. There is so much to gain from understanding and applying the life and sacrifice of Christ in our lives. I hope that as the Christmas season approaches I can remember him and all he did for me.

Ate mais,

Elder Justus Johnson

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hey everyone. P-day is just about over, so I'm not going to be able to get a group e-mail out. My companion really likes going places and doing things on P-day, so letter writing kind of gets pushed out of the picture. But, I saw capevaras for the first time in Brazil!!! I'll try and get some pictures off.
This week we did a division in Dourados and Fatima do Sul. And on top of that we did a division with the young men here on Saturday. DIVISIONS!!! This week we´ve got three more to do...what fun.

Other than that we've got a bunch of progressing investigators, and a baptism this Saturday!! An awesome older lady named M. We're working super hard, and it's paying off, we're seeing a lot of success, and we hope to have even more.
Thank you all for your love and prayers,
Elder Justus Johnson

Missionaries in Cuiaba Zone
Divisao com os ELderes em Fatima
 Capivara at the park
 Araras at the church
 Investigator's bunny
P-Day at the Park
Texas Burger and Grill -

a little closer to home!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hey everyone! Writing from Campo Grande, na ala Pioneiros! I am absolutally loving this place! First off, the weather is so much nicer. For the first time in months I've been able to sleep without being soaked in sweat by morning, and during the day there's always a nice breeze that helps keep me cool! On top of that, my new companion, Elder J B is Awesome! I've spent a lot of time with him in the past, and I done more than a few divisions with him, and so we're working really well together. We're both rather new to this city, and so this week we did a bunch of finding, and now we have a very solid teaching pool. Two of our investigators went to church yesterday and they loved it!
I wish I could give some more specifics, but my time is GONE.
Until next week,

Elder Johnson

1. farewell from Rondonopolis
2. new district
3. Campo Grande

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hey everyone! Some big news this week!

First- P (the youngest of the less-active family we found a few weeks ago) was baptized this week. It was so great to see the whole family together! Now, the next step is to get them to the temple!
Next- I'm going South Side!!! For the first time in my mission I'll be going to Mato Grosso do Sul, and the southern half of our mission. Everyone says that the south is like another mission, the culture and climate are very different. So, I'm super exited to have some new experiences!
Other than that, our week was pretty normal. We gave two more days of recuperation time to Elder S's toe, and it looks like it's worked! We won't have to amputate after all! We also did a division with the Assistants, and I was able to get to know Elder F for the first time. We had an incredible day juntos, and we got a lot of good work done.
Next week I'll be writing from Campo Grande!
Ate mais!

Elder Justus Johnson

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hey everyone! This week was a busy one, and we were able to see a lot of sucess in our little branch this Sunday. We were able to see a couple of great less-active families come to church after a long time of working with them, as well as having all of our recent converts there too. It was a great end to a very interesting week.

First off, let me give a warning against infection. It's no fun to have an infected toe. Take it from my companion. A week or two ago Elder S had a quick operation to remove an ingrown toenail, and thinking that all was well, we went on our way. Unfortunetally, soon therafter, the toe started to swell and leak pus (not good by the way). Turns out that it got infected, and that walking all day in sweaty church shoes is not the best treatment to fight bacteria. Now, Elder S is taking antibiotics, and we had to stay at home on Friday to give the toe some recovery time. We used the opportunity to celebrate Halloween by doing a deep cleaning of our house, and a really solid session of Weekly Planning.
The rest of the week however, was really great! We went up to Primavera do Leste on Wednesday to participate in a training, and do some divisions. I was able to work with my trainee, Elder O, who is now a District Leader there in that city! He's doing his trainer proud!!
To finish off the week, and to make up for the lost day on Friday, we did an all day division with the Young Men on Saturday. I was able to go on splits with a great future missionary called. He was baptised a little over a year ago, but is now one of the most helpful members here in Rondonopolis. As it happens, just about all of our plans fell through.and we had to improvise. But, things worked out in the end and we were able to find a couple of really great new investigators. I loved spending time with N, he reminded me a lot of my brothers at home. He was so excited and ready to work and teach with the missionaries, and to one day serve his own mission. I hope that all young men could have that same testimony and excitement about Missionary work.
This week I thought a lot about what the church really is, and the purpose behind all that the church teaches. In so many ways, all of the commandments, and church doctrines exist for our happiness and protection. In working with many less-actives I've been able to see how members of the church with a firm testimony of the gospel are led away or decieved because of how sin appears so attractive. But as always, turns out that God really does know what's best, and wickedness never was happiness. Instead of finding a super happy party life, people lose out on the simple, pure happiness that the gospel brings. and unfortunately, they stick with a guilt that impedes them from returning to the church, and the principles that once made them so happy. It's things like that that help me realize even more deeply, that the church really is true. I know that this is the true church of Christ, that offers true and eternal happiness.
Ate Mais!

Elder Justus Johnson

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wow, this week has been long but great!!! First and foremost, we didn't have to do any crazy travelling!!! It was nice to dedicate an entire week of work here in Rondonopolis. We did everything we could to take advantage of it, and we stocked up on a ton of new investigators that didn't go to church...so we'll see what happens with them this week.
But, the best thing about this week is just the feeling about being completealy dedicated. It's hard to stay exited about going out in the blazing hot sun to teach a whole bunch of people who really just don't get it. BUT, I feel like we did a pretty good job this week. What made the difference was a new neighboorhood that we're working in. It helped a lot to get a the feeling of working in a new "fresh" area.
Other than our work in this new bairro, we're amping up our less-active work here in the downtown area. With all the active members at the temple, we were able to get some good visits in with some of the families that are not coming to church so often. We're trying to buy their trust and love with homemade American cookies, and it seems to be working so far! Now I don't even need a reci
pe, just give me the right stuff and I can whip up some chocolate chip cookies in 15 minutes or less!!!
As for the spiritual side of experiences, we're had the opportunity to find and teach some very special people this week. First off, the neighboor of a lessactive family is now receiving the lessons, and she came to church this Sunday. Also, we met some very elect families in this new bairro that were definetally prepared to receive the message of the Resoration. For that very reason I love doing contacts and finding new people so much. Call me crazy, but knocking doors really is one of my favorite parts of missionary work. Sure it's not very effective, but every once and a while you have a sweet, spirit filled lesson that makes all the difference for you and the family you find.
I really love the mission. It's not always a bundle of fun, but it so meaningful. I know that I'm not perfect, but I can at least feel that what I'm doing is important, and on more then a worldly scale. I know that this work really matters, to me, to everyone else, and most importantly to God.
Ate mais!

Elder Justus Johnson

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hey everyone! The transfer results are in! Once again, there is a remarkable lack of changes in our house. We're ALL STAYING! So, Elder S and I are looking at a third transfer together, a transfer that's sure to be even better than our first two together! We've got a lot of room to improve, and we're both exited to do everything possible to really help our branch here in Rondonopolis.
But, this week leading up to the transfer calls yesterday petered out rather than end with a bang. We got some visits in Monday Tuesday and Wednesday, but our day on Thursday was inturrupted by a trip to Cuiaba, and another rather unexpected event...our wall fell down.
We had just gotten out of the house and were on our way to an investigator's house when we got a call from the other Elders. They let us know that we should probably head back to resolve a slight problem. That problem being that the entire right side of the wall surrounding our house had completely collapsed. Turns out the people constructing the chapel next door were digging a little bit too much under the foundations of our right side wall, and the entire thing collapsed. Interestingly enough the mission doesn't have any instructions on what to do when your wall falls down, but we were able to make some calls and resolve the situation fairly quickly. But now, if you walk out back, the entire back patio is opened up to the construction site next door. YAY for adventures!
Right after the wall falling down fiasco, we got a bus to Cuiabá for a leadership conference. There were a bunch of missionaries there, and it was great seeing some old friends again. But what was even better was that the trainings were awesome. President and the Assistants but together literally an entire day of trainings and discursos! I learned a lot, and hopefully now we can apply some of the things we learned. My favorite parts was the new focus that President Reber established on our Area Books, and the discussion he lead on how we need to be courageous leaders (see 'which way do we face' do conferencia geral). Good stuff!
We got back on Saturday, and went to another wedding! This time a wedding of one of the leaders in the branch. Afterwards we headed over to Ramo 2 to participate and help out in the baptism of a great new family that the sister missionaries found and taught. On Sunday, the branch had the once a year caravana to the temple, and so there was only a sacarament meeting. All the members of the branch are going to be at the temple this week, and so that means I'll be practicing my Cooking!!!
lastly, with the new transfer and whatnot. I've been studying a little bit about repentance. In reading Alma chapter 24 I learned from the example of the Ammonites. A people that TRULY repented. I feel like they set a pretty good example for us all. They literally buried their temptations in the ground, and we're more willing to die then to commit the same sins again. That example is one I hope to follow in this next transfer and in my life. I've got swords to bury!!!
Ate mais,

Elder Justus Johnson

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

All right everyone, I don't have lots of time, so here's 2 quick stories. When we went to teach a lesson last night, we just talked with the kids mom on the porch cuz he was busy. We were talking for about 5 minutes and while we were talking, the neighbor came out and asked us to come over when we were done. to give you an idea what it's like, CA is a mix of Florida (with the palm trees) Texas (heat), Utah (cools down at night, and pretty dry), Virginia (lots of people), and the Azores (the way the houses are built). Anyway, we went over and she and her husband just started talking about their 22 year old son. They pleaded with us to help him out of his addiction to drugs so he could get back on his feet for life. He's had trouble keeping jobs because of drugs and he always cant resist going out with his friends even though he knows they're bad influences on him. He's trying ot get into a rehab program, but according to his parents all he ever does is say he will, but then he starts again. It was incredible. They recognized us not as just some random feel good missionaries, but as representatives of Jesus Christ. We proceeded to talk with R (the son). He said he's always being judged by people. People tell him he's trash. I told him, and the same goes for anyone who reads this, that he is, above all else, a son of God. He has divine potential. We are all sons and daughters of God. We can't allow anyone to convince us otherwise. We then proceeded to read some of Ether 12 with him. We talked about how faith can help him overcome addiction, and specifically faith in Jesus Christ. I told him that part of having faith was acting. I told him that fear is the opposite of faith. That FEAR IS SOMETHING UNWORTHY OF A CHILD OF GOD. We left him with a Book of Mormon with a chapter to read. We encouraged him to start reading his bible again (he used to be really involved with his church), and to begin praying regularly again. We gave him our phone number and we're going to stop by his house again. The second story I have happened earlier that day. We went with the Zone Leaders to a nearby college to talk to students as they walked between classes. I finally found a use for my French skilz. Tell you what, if you talk to someone in French, 8 times out of 10 they'll stop and talk with you. It was awesome. One of the zone leaders came up to me and whispered, 'how did you talk to that girl? She just walked right by me!' I'm tellin' you, it's the French. Then this XC (cross country running) group from high school ran by, so I just started running with them and talking to the kids up front. After about a minute I realized I was kinda far from my comp so I headed back. It was a blast. Love you all a ton!

Elder Hunter Johnson

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mawage, that is the weason we are gavewed hewe tewday! WHOOOO my first marriage of the mission! A and D, the couple we've been working with since we've got here finally got married, and the day afterward, baptized!! And boy was it a marriage! They put a LOT into the whole marriage ceremony, and it was definitely the classiest event I've been to here in Brazil. All the Elders in our District were invited, and we went in suits. SO style'n. But, in all seriousness, it was one of the greatest, happiest moments ever! Getting legally married is a bigger step than I ever thought it would be, and it was a step that I was so happy to see this couple make. Putting it all in a nutshell, Saturday night was a night of lots of good food and even better feelings. Who knew that helping other people be happy could make you so happy!?
Other than that event, this week was bewildering, I still don't know how to make sense out of it, but here I go trying to describe it.
The entire week was a rough one for me. We had a hard time getting traction in our work, and for whatever reason me and Elder S lacked out usual energy and excitement. We struggled with effective planning and teaching, and we ended the week with a lot of wasted time. Which, by the way is the WORST.  There's not many feelings worse than feeling like you've missed opportunities and wasted the Lord's time. Needless to say, I was guilt tripping a lot of the week, and trying to apply what I know was necessary to improve. Then, on the weekend we all got our minds blown.
Conference was great yes, but this Sunday will be remembered as one of the most remarkable days yet. We had one baptism set up, and in the baptismal service, another one of our investigators accepted a baptismal interview, and was baptized after the last session of conference, but just wait, that's not all. Just before the last session of GC, our investigator J showed up, and what happened next is a second-hand account (I was with a member going around picking up less-actives). J noticed that the baptismal font was filled, and became curious. One of the members offhandedly jokingly told him that it was for his baptism. J however took it seriously. He asked if there was an empty room. He entered and proceeded to pray for at least ten minutes, he left the room with a clear answer, and the desire to be baptized that very day. We desperately tried to get in touch with his mom to get her permission, but were unsuccessful. However, we've now got yet another rock solid baptism set up for this coming Saturday.
In thinking about these remarkable events, I was trying to figure out what God was trying to teach me. I was sure that these miracles were for me, and then it hit me. Does God love me? Yup.  Does he want to bless me? Sure.  BUT, these particular events had NOTHING to do with me. I wasn't even there in person. I realized that these miracles are for these people who are making covenants with their Heavenly Father. It was one of those moments where you realize you're NOT the center of everything. I felt humbled to be able to watch the manifestations of God's love for these people, he really is a truly perfect father, and he loves EVERYONE!
But, those are my thoughts this week!
Ate mais!

Elder Justus Johnson

 Ok, I was a little bit worried about the cups being missused here but than I saw the beads of sweat on the faces of the Elders and realized it really was the only way they could get a drink of water.  Must have taken quite a few re-fills.

Can still be goofy and have fun.
Interesting note:  Justus' uncle Daniel teaches Seminary in Utah and recognized one of his students was Justus' companion.  Small world.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My brother's on the mission! Parabems Hunter. It's good/strange to think that I'm not the only Elder Johnson in the family anymore. Now California will have it's own Elder Johnson to do the work of the Lord. The mission is the best thing in the world, and I'm sure his mission will be just as good for him as he will be for it!     But as for my own mission here in Brazil, it's as hot as ever, and we are ready to brave the sun, sweat, and dissapointments to have some real success here in Rondonopolis. However, especially after this week, I know that success won't come easy. This week was really frustrating, despite an awesome meeting in Cuiaba and some last minute miracles on Sunday.
The week started off just the way we like it. With lots of work and lessons, including some great participation with the members. Our main investigator, A (fiance de D) is consistantly getting more and more excited for her marriage and baptism. Also, this week I had the remarkable opportunity to teach a 16 year old kid named J! Turns out that (my last name) is actually used as a first name here in Brazil. Not only is it neat to teach someone with your own name, he's an incredible investigator. He went to church with some relatives as a young child, but moved away before he turned 8. Recently however, he got his hands on a Livro de Mormon, and has been reading it too! He's already in 2 Nefi! I really look foreward to helping him progress, and hopefully one day be baptised!       After a solid start, our week was inturrupted by a trip to Cuiaba, where I celebrated my 20th birthday! And by celebrated, I mean that I stayed up all night without sleeping due to the inhumanely high temperatures in the assistant's house. Turns out their AC was broken and they didn't have enough fans for everyone, so I basically layed in bed sweating my life away all night long. :D Hurray for memories. But, despite the complete lack of sleep, the meeting in Cuiaba was super insightful. Presidente Reber and the assistantes helped us learn more about some changes to the mission, and some things we need to focus on.
The downside to the Cuiaba visit, is that we lost some crucial weekend time, and we were unable to visit all the people that we wanted to. It didn't help that all the people that we DID decide to visit weren't home! Due to these difficulties, we were very disapointed by a dismal church attendance on Sunday. I was SOOO put out, but after a quick prayer, I went downstairs, and who was there. A less-active member who brought his new girlfriend to church!! I quickly marked a lesson for after church, and that very night, taught her, and marked a baptisimal date for the 27th! I feel like it was definitely an answer to prayer.
It's so silly to me to think that someone so perfect and powerfull as GOD would actually be willing to help someone so imperfect and lame as ME! But, he does. We can recieve these miracles in our lives just by ASKING! How crazy is that?! But as we testify every day to people, I testify to you all as well that God hears and answers prayers. So why not pray?     Just do it, I promise that it works!

Ate mais
Elder Justus Johnson

Monday, September 8, 2014

Well, this week marks one year that I've been on a mission, and eight months that I've been in Brazil (not that I'm counting). What an experience. The things I've done and seen mean so much to me, and I''m SOOO excited to see what another year has in store, but before all that, let me give you all the scoop on this week. We started out the week with a mission tour in Cuiaba. All the missionaries from the north half of the mission got together to hear some instruction from Elder and Sister Campos (Area Seventy Authority). The conference was inspired! I loved all of the trainings and talks that were given. Everyone explained a lot about attitude and dedication. We learned how we could all become more consecrated missionaries. It helped open my eyes to what we can do to allow the Lord work more fully through us.
 Other than the inspired words we heard, it was awesome being able to see and talk with all the other missionaries. I was especially excited to talk with the Elders working in Alta Floresta, and I was overjoyed to hear that ALL of the people that I was able to help teach and baptize are firm in the gospel and going to church every Sunday!  Anyway, we got back to our area determined to finish the transfer strong, and I feel like we did. We found and taught as many people as we could and at the end of it all we were able to get three of them to church! We had a number of great experiences and some awesome lessons. Among other things I learned about the importance of boldly (and lovingly) calling people to repentance. And whats more, it's actually kind of fun!  As for my thoughts and feelings after one year on a mission, I'd like to dwell more on what's in front of me than the things I've done.  I've learned a lot, seem plenty of miracles, and even changed a little bit to date. But, there is room to do so much more! I was thinking about true change of heart a lot this week, and I realized that I've got a lot of heart changing to do. The good news is that I've got a whole year to do it. Sure I've changed some habits, but now it's time to change my character. I'm immensly grateful for the opportunities that I have in front of me to learn and change, and I'm even more grateful for the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ, that allows us to make those changes.  I know that God lives and loves us, that our Savior Jesus Christ died and atoned for our sins. I know they have a plan for us, and have prepared a way for everyone to acheive the ultimate end. Eternal Life. I know that a big part of that preparation is the Restoration of the complete gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith. This is the truth, and it's my job to proclaim it.  Em nome de Jesus Cristo, Amem     PS- Nothing changed with this transfer, I'll still be in Rondonopolis with Elder Stephens!!
1. me and my "brother", Elder Carter who went home this week
2. me and Elder Tibbits (from my MTC District)
3, the "filhos de Contor"...all of the trainees of my trainer Elder Contor (may he rest in peace)
4. dinner in Cuiaba!
1. what happens when you stick terere in the freezer...

Terere- basically it's grass water. I don't know exactly what it's made of, but it's when you stick a bunch of herbs in a cup (with or without flavoring) and then pour water (or juice, or soda, or any other liquid you can think of) into the cup and drink the grass flavored drink that results! It's best to drink super ice cold, which is why I stuck it in the freezer, but turns out that doesn't give the best results...