Monday, February 24, 2014

I don't really know where to start this letter, so I'm just gonna go for it.

First off, Alta Floresta is incredible. Sadly, it is far more civilized than I had hoped. But really, that is what makes it remarkable. Alta Floresta is literally smack dab in the middle of Jungle. If I walked 5 mins South or 10 mins West of our house, I would be completely lost in the Amazon. However, the city is bem-estabelecido, well-organized, and what's more, clean!! I don't really know if it's big enough to call a city, but it's not exactly a town either...Anyway, the city just plain great. You can be walking down the main Avenue, and have parrots and Macaws fly overhead. The temperature is a bit cooler here as well (I think because of the higher elevation). It's hard to describe the "feel" of the city, but it's almost like a resort. Most of the people here are either students (college kids) or retirees (old people). And so, it's harder to find families to teach. But all things said and done I'm loving it here.

Right now, my companion and I are living with the one and only (that we know) member family here. The parents, P e I, are both returned missionaries, and they have two sons, L(18) and M(15) who aren't baptized. They've lived here 14 years without any involvement in the church because of the long distances between here and...well, everywhere. It's been really hard on the family, but they are excited to finally have missionaries here to start the church. I could spend all my time talking about this family, and their struggles and example of strength and faith, but I probably shouldn't.

As for my companion, Elder N, he is awesome!! He's from Sao Paulo, and has 3 transfers left on his mission. He is a great example for me. He is an incredible teacher, and has one of the most powerful, sincere testimonies I've ever heard. Together, we're getting to know the area very quickly, and spending most of our time finding people to teach. 

Another aspect of the area that is remarkable is the receptiveness of the people. The church is a little bit late in arriving here, and a bunch of other churches are very firmly entrenched. However, despite this, almost everyone is willing to hear us out and invite us back. I don't know weather is just because our church is something "new" or what, but the openness and the preparation of the people here for the restored gospel is remarkable.

We had one experience this past week that stands out among the rest as truly miraculous. Our first day here, we contacted a reference from church headquarters. A media referral, that many times aren't very reliable. Sure enough, the lady that was referred, J, had no recollection of requesting a visit from the missionaries. Of course, we taught her anyway :) After the lesson, she invited us to participate in a little "youth group" type gathering of students. We went this past Saturday, and established a time to return and teach the entire group!! Yet one more example of God directing and guiding his work among many!

It is so, so exciting to be a part of this work. I've never felt so good about being absolutely exhausted! I know that this is the work of the Lord, and I'm just privileged to be a part of it.

Elder Johnson 

I was determined to take a bunch of pictures this week, but was super busy and didn't get the chance. But, here are some pictures of a flooded rua that Elder C sent me!
BTW- these were taken basically right in front of our house. Hurray for floods!!

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