Monday, February 17, 2014

To the family:
Hey Everyone! Thanks for your letters. Sounds like you've been having fun with all the snow! Dad, to respond to a few of your questions- We have a phone to share as a companionship, and boy is it handy! We receive about 200 reis two times a month on a debit card. And we walk just about everywhere. We only take the bus when we need to leave our area or cross from one side to the other.

As for my big news...I'm getting transferred. I should really just stop being surprised. I loved working here in Morada da Serra, but next transfer I have an incredible opportunity. Me and one of the Assistants to the President are opening a new city to the gospel! I leave for the little town of Alta Floresta tomorrow. I'll write more about what that in my other letter, but there, I won't be able to receive letters or packages at all, so don't bother sending anything.

I don't have any new missionary tips for members this week, but I hope that you're taking note of my suggestions. They are things that I want to do when I return from my mission, so don't delete the emails or anything. (Pics: fish head & huge spider)
Love you all and wish you all a great week!

Elder Johnson.
To Everyone:
I don't know whether I should start off this letter with the big news, or build up to it...but since I like a little bit of dramatic effect, I think I'll side with the building up plan.

This week was indeed better than the last. We got a lot done, and we were definitely able to receive guidance from the Lord. The most exciting and frankly miraculous event of this week was the finding of a long lost family! The first encounter was when we had to ask for directions from a couple kids playing in the street. They gave us the directions and we continued along our way. The very next night, we passed the same group of kids, but on a different street. We were taken aback when one of them said that they had been baptized into our church! As a missionary, you shouldn't take running into the same people more than once for granted, and so, the next day we stopped by their house. Turns out, the mom is a less-active member that was baptised five years ago, along with one of her daughters who was 8 at that time. She and her two children came to church on Sunday, and we have high hopes of them returning again, and what's more, we're also now teaching one of their neighbors!
I think many missionaries, and members in general don't have an appreciation for working with members of the church who are not coming to church. Sure it's frustrating, and it definitely takes patience, but it's so worth it to be able to see people return to the faith! It is so exciting to be a part of the "rescuing" of lost sheep that the scriptures and Prophets talk so much about.

All things said and done, this week was full of great experiences. Great lessons, and lots and lots of work. Among other things, nossa casa lost power for a day and a half, and so we had a fun planning session by candle and moonlight! We also had a ward chorrasco (barbeque) that was really successful! But the "big news" of the week came when Elder Contor and I were summoned to the mission office for a meeting with Presidente Reber. In this meeting, he made a surprising announcement-

The mission is opening a new city, Alta Floresta, to missionary work and I have been assigned along with Elder Nascimento to go there this next transfer. 

Alta Floresta is way North in the mission. In fact, it is as far North as you can go. How far North? Only a 15+ hour bus ride north of Cuiaba, and 5 hours North of the nearest Church building. Because it is so far removed from basically everything else, we won't be part of a district or zone. Which means we won't have meetings and will only see other missionaries once every four months for mission conferences, to which we will have to travel by plane. 

As far as we know, there are two members of the church in Alta Floresta. A couple (both returned missionaries) that has lived there for fourteen years. We will start off as a "group", meaning that we will meet in the house of this member family every Sunday for an hour long Sacrament meeting. And, that's about all we know. 
Needless to say, I'm more than a little bit humbled. I've got not idea how to start the church! Which is basically what we'll be doing. It will be different, and difficult to do work without the support of a ward, or without even a church building to meet at. But, it's going to be great! I am both super excited and terrified. I've got no idea what it is that I'm supposed to contribute to the work in this new city, but I've got to figure it out, and fast! I know I'm going to have to rely on the Lord now more that ever, but I have faith that regardless of my weakness and inability, this is his work, and he can get done what he needs to through me. 

Elder Johnson

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