Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Let me tell you, after 2 months of working more or less alone in a city, it is really good to see and talk with other missionaries. This week I had my second Zone Conference in Brazil, and as always, it was great. What made it even better was that we flew to the Conference via airplane! The trip to Cuiaba is at least 18 hours by bus (depending on the condition of the road) and Presidente Reber decided that it would be better to travel by plane then to waste a day and a half on the bus. Hurray for aviation! 

Zone Conference itself was great, and I learned a LOT. The assistants gave a great training of presenting our message clearly and simply. With brief, but powerfull lessons, with less explanation and more testimony! Presidente Reber shared with the missionaries his vision for our mission and the incredible things that are happening here to further the work. There are many, many cities in the mission that need to be opened to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and It's awesome to know that we're on the forefront of spreading the gospel to new people and new places. Unfortunetaly, I forgot my camera and so I don't have pictures of the conferece, but feel free to visit the blog of my mission President to check it out (http://ksrebermission.blogspot.com.br/).

The crowning event of the week was definetally Zone Conference, but there are a bunch of great things, and some not so great things happening here in Alta Floresta.

First off, my companion and I are super excited to be working with a number of incredible investigators who are preparing for baptism. First off, A, and (hopefully) a esposa dele, C. As well as two of the grandchildren of one of the members here, C e T. We are going to work specifically with these families this week to help them prepare for baptism this coming Sunday. Also, we are teaching an awesome lady, R and her daughter, L. R
is working hard to quit smoking, and she hopes to be baptised in the coming weeks as well!

As for moments caidaço, we made contact with a man who is a member of the "congregação cristão" and studying with the "testemunhos de Jeová". The situation was interesting because literally these are 2 of the most...radical religions here in Brazil, and this guy was a mix of BOTH! Anyway, from the getgo, he tried stumping us with a couple of rediculous questions, but me and my companion just presented him with a Book of Mormon, bore testimony, and got out of there! It definetally wasn't the funnest experience, but it served as an example for me of the lack of spirit that accompanies argument, and, in contrast, the powerful spirit that accompanies a sincere testimony. 

And because I have no idea how to appropriately end this particular letter, I'll just say, 

PS Sorry, this is the only foto this week. A foto that my companion took of me la em Cidade Alta.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy belated Easter to all!!!! 

Páscoa was indeed the biggest event of the week. SO much chocolate!! I think easter is a bigger deal here in Brasil then in the States. I love it! Lots of chocolate and lots of people remembering Jesus, one of the best combos ever! To celebrate easter we did what Brazilians do best: CHURRASCO!!! It was glorious. 

What made the day even better was breaking the record for church attendance here in Alta Floresta, 26 people in church! My companion and I have decided that now we have really established a solid foundation with the members here in Alta Floresta, we're going to dedicate more of our time and energy helping our Pesquisadores progress to batismo! There is so much great potencial here, and I'm super excited to be a part of the conversion process of so many elect souls. 

In part due to the Easter season, my thoughts this week have been directed much more frequently towards Christ, and specifically his perfect example for us. The people here in Brazil have a habit of saying that "Cristo é tudo". I often wonder if people really understand what that means. I for myself am still in the process of learning and applying that truth to my life. This week, and in particular, yesterday, I was thinking a lot about example. Of all the great examples of missionaries that I have seen, from Elder Ca to Co,

  which do I want to be most like?? The scripture of Christ's counsel to his Apostles came to mind, "be even as I am". It struck me that I don't need to settle for a lesser example that that of Christ. In all I do and say, my intention should be to exemplify the attributes of Christ. Needless to say, I fall short. A LOT. But, part of the sacrifice, the Atonement, of Christ was the hope of this possibility. I know that through Christ, I can indeed become as he is. Perfect and Glorified. I am infinitely gratefull for my Savior, Jesus Christ and ALL he has done, is doing and will do for me.

Elder Johnson
Pictures:  Dressing up for Easter as only Missionaries can!  OVOS DA PÁSCOA!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

I am so gratefull for e-mail! Right now I'm not sure I have the energy to actually pick up a pen and write a letter. Both my companion and I are dead tired. We're probably going to spend the rest of P-day sleeping. But, another great week of work here in Alta Floresta!

The biggest event of the week was the visit and division with the assistants to the President, Elderes Rolim and Beatty. Last transfer, I learned so much from them, and this week once again, I was humbled to work with such great missionaries. The lesson learned this time was confidence and courage in the service of the Lord. I learned that as missionaries, we have every right, and even a responsability to be bold, and demonstrate the authority of our calling. 
Saturday night, Elder Rolim and I were working way far away from casa, in um bairro fairly dangerous. As we were returning home at night, we passed a very angry drunk. He stopped us, and started to spout a whole bunch of angry nonsense. He grabbed us by our ties and and started yelling at us, asking us "who do you think you are". Elder Rolim calmly responded "we are representatives of Jesus Christ" and proceeded to invite the guy to church the following day. That example of courage and authority will stick with me to the end of my mission.

Other than that, my companion and I had a cool/funny experience with a lady who is convinced that we are prophets. After our first lesson with her, she prayed that if we really were messengers of God, the pain in her arm would dissapear. Remarkably, and according to her faith, the pain indeed dissapeared. The story is funny, because now it's just about impossible to help her understand that we're just missionaries, and that with a true prophet of God, only one will exist on the earth at a time. 

Em Fim, we're excited to continue the Lord's work here, and we continue to learn and see miracles! 

Elder Johnson 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wow what a week! It's been remarkably busy, it's impossible to tell all the stories, or relay in detail everything that's happened this week in one email but I'll try to hit some of the big events-

- New companion, Elder T. He's from Santos, Sao Paulo, he's 19 and has 2 months of mission under his belt. He's not brand new, but he's definitely new, and he reminds me a lot of, well, me at the start of my mission. He's got the "greenie fire" burning bright. He's full of a desire to really get out there and get to work, and what's more, he's determined to be exactly obedient. He's got a LOT to learn, but I've got high hopes for the kid. He could use a touch more humility, but then, again, can't we all?? But all in all, he's great, and we'll continue to learn and improve together. 
- Not one but TWO extremely uncomfortable run-ins with gay men, who were way too interested in us.
- I got sick for the first time in my mission!!! WHOOOO! No worries though, I killed it with 2 multivitamins, 2 fever reducers, a Vitamin C supplement, lots of water, and an extra hour or rest! Take that Brazilian diseases!!
- We taught a record number of lessons here in Alta Floresta, and what's more, we blew church attendance out of the water with 25 people at church on Sunday!!

All in all, it's been a week of work. Just a "go and do" week. To be honest, it was really really hard. But at the same time, so, so rewarding. Becoming senior companion, and what's more, becoming responsible for a new missionary who's finishing training is super stressful. I feel like the fate of the city is on my shoulders, and many times this week that burden has appeared more than I can bear. Any time if anything goes wrong, a lesson falls through, a pesquisador looses interest, a lesson goes awry, It's on my head. I can't count the number of times I've felt completely overwhelmed by the task in front of us. I spent two whole nights without sleep, just laying in my bed, consumed with thoughts and plans, ideas and worries, people and places. But each day, we got out and got to work. We worked through rain, heat, exhaustion, and in my case, sickness, but we did it! We spent each and every day out on the streets of Alta Floresta giving it our all. And we certainly weren't perfect. I messed up a lot. I'm still not a very good teacher, I'm not the best planner. I'm not very organized. I forget important things all the time. But I know our work and effort was accepted of the lord this week. I was able to see a miracle. The miracle of our little sacarament meeting being filled to the brim, with not enough seats for all that came. I remember with incredulity our first two weeks here, with just us missionaries and the one family here. To see the living room of Irmao P e E completely full, with people ages 70 to 3 months, was a sight I will treasure for a long, long time. 
Anyway, I'm loving it here, and I'm giving it my all. 

Elder Johnson

1. sacrament meeting with President R
2. The "arvore grande" (the one I got a picture by a little earlier)
3. Just a macaw, chillin in a tree.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

To everyone:
Hey everyone! This week was great! It felt so good to have a full week to just get to work and not have to worry about moving, or traveling, or any other technicalities. A lot happened this week, including a visit from President and Sister Reber, the birth of a new baby in our little group of members, and some exciting transfer changes!!

We started the week with some good old-fashioned missionary work, namely, knocking doors and making contacts. This kind of work is hard and long, but experiences like the following one make it all worth it- We were working in one of the bairros afastados (far-away neighborhoods) for the first time, and trying to apply new and better techniques to our contacting by using pamphlets or the Book of Mormon in the first contact. We worked all afternoon without a lot of success, and it was getting dark. We wound our way down a couple of streets, and stopped to knock (or clap) at one final house. A lady, mother of two kids came out. We introduced ourselves, and the Book of Mormon, and offered her one as a present. In the moment, she started to cry. She thanked us profusely and explained that "Eu estava precisando". (I was needing it) We got her phone number, and marked a time to return. Looking back it is easy to see that we were lead by the spirit, but in the moment, it felt more like wandering. Just a faint prompting to "turn here" "turn there" and "stop here". It is so so sweet to be led in this way to those in need. Yet another testimony to me that the lord provides for and guides us!

The week continued as normal, until the visit of President Reber! Us missionaries and the members were all super excited to meet and learn from him. He arrived on Saturday afternoon, and stayed a whopping 24 hours. The time flew by, and we kept him and Sister Reber busy. Saturday afternoon and night, we stopped by all of the member families, and an investigator. Miraculously, Everyone we stopped by was home! Our little sacrament meeting had a record number of people on Sunday. A whopping 15! President Reber gave a great discourse on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it's simplicity and necessity. Afterwards, he interviewed all of the members, ordained M and L to the Aaronic Priesthood, and gave blessings to Irmaos P e I. All in all it was incredibly powerful, and everyone, including me was very touched.

That night, Elder N and I waited anxiously for the transfer news. President Reber had discussed a couple of possibilities with us, but we had no idea what was in store. We were both hoping for an extra dupla to arrive, to divide the workload, and personally, I was hoping to stay another transfer learning from the incredible example of Elder N. The assignments that came took us both by suprise. Elder N is being transferred, and I will stay here and finish the training of a new missionary, Elder T. 

Needless to say, sometimes I think President has a little more confidence in me than I have in myself. The idea of being responsible for continuing this little branch of the church in a city far removed from the mission is daunting to say the least. I hope and pray that I can live up to the task. I will be relying a lot on Elder T, and I have a lot of faith that we can learn from each other, and work well together, but more than anything else I'll be on my knees a lot this transfer, pleading for the strength of the lord. 
Elder Johnson