Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Well this week was a long one. But as always it was full of great experiences, and a lot of hard work. 

The week started off in another city, Sinop. Our district was invited to participate in the Zone meeting on Tuesday. So, we left here Monday night, and got there at 1:00 in the morning. The morning was pretty crazy, with everyone trying to find their way around a city that nobody was familiar with. But, the Zone meeting was great, and afterwards, all the missionaries participated in a "blitz". All the missionaries in the Zone split up to do contacts and find new investigators in one area. It was a neat experience, and we helped out the missionaries in Sinop a ton! 

We got back to Alta Floresta 3:00 in the morning on Wednesday, and we got to work right away. With two sets of missionaries, we're able to work a lot more in Cidade Alta, and we're uncovering a lot of potential there. This week alone we taught a number of families that are super receptive, and six of the people we taught there this week came to church on Sunday!

But, above all, the neatest experience this week was with R and L. R is the mother of L (9 years old) and we've been teaching the two of them for the past 2 months. Both of them have been diligentlly coming to church every Sunday ever since we started teaching them. They both wanted to be baptized, but R has a strong dependancy on cigarretes. L in particular always had a strong desire to be baptized, but due to some new regulations here in Brazil, we needed authorization of the mission president to baptize L. But we explained the situation to President Reber, and he agreed to let L get baptized before R. 

And so, this week we taught L on Friday while R was attending a visit (R has a salon em casa). The lesson with L was great, and she was 100% prepared for baptism. But after the lesson during our day, I felt like we needed to return and invite R once more to be baptised together with her daughter. That night, we returned to her house, entered and sat down. Simply, I asked if she wanted to be baptized this Sunday. She responded, "of course, but I can't." I told her that she knew exactly what was necessary, and that it was completeally possible, and completeally up to her. R turned and looked to look at her daugher. The two of them continued looking into eachother's eyes for what seemed like an eternity. Finally she turned back to us with tears in her eyes and simply asked "do you have confidence in me", we responded emphetacally SIM, and whats more important God has confidence in you. She accepted, and finially agreed with detemination to stop smoking once.

This Sunday was very special for me. Finally I was able to help a mother and daughter enter in the door to the fullness of the Gospel through baptism. It is practically impossible to really describe the happiness that I felt for these daughters of God. R has overcome so much, and she has a lot more to overcome still, but now she's well on her way, with the companionship of the church family, and more importantly with the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Well, as luck would have it, this week once again ended up being a lot of improvisation and hard work. Unexpectedly, our week was disrupted by a suprize conference. This is essentially what happened...

On Tuesday, our Zone Leaders (Elders W e M) arrived to go on splits with our District. When they got here they casually asked, "so, are you ready to go to Cuiaba tomorrow?" Turns out basically everyone had forgotten to tell me that I was invited to a Special Training in Cuiaba on Thursday. But, since there's only one plane that comes to and from Alta Floresta cada dia, I had to catch the flight Wednesday afternoon, and stay there in Cuiaba until Friday! SURPRISE!! 

But, regardless of the two days lost working in my area, I think the training was worth it. I learned soooo much, and President Reber was able to explain and give some great details on a couple of the changes here in Missão Brasil Cuiabá. 

Of course, after two days far away from my beloved city of Alta Floresta, I returned foaming at the mouth (figuratively of course) to get back to work. So, as soon as we could it was off to Cidade Alta!! My companion and I worked the entire day without much sucess, but finally found an incredible family of five! We invited them to chuch, and this past Sunday three of them came!

Unfortunately, the family that we've been teaching for a good while now, R e L, encountered some difficulties during the week, and once again R was unable to put her cigarrettes behind her. What a difficult and depressing addiction. We have literally tried everything we could, and now this decision is up to her and the lord. We replanned the baptism of L for this coming Domingo, with the hope that her baptism will inspire her mother to really make that final little push that will be necessary to overcome.
But, despite all the craziness, the week ended well. We had great attendance at church on Sunday, and the father (S) of the two girls baptised two weeks ago ( T e C) joined his daughters in the restored gospel. The decision to be baptised meant a lot of big changes in the life of this father, but I know that at least now he is on the path to established an eternaly happy family.

That path is the Resored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that this path is open to us through the sacrifice of our Savior. I know that the blessings of this Gospel are real. As is the power of the Atonement of Christ. I am honored and humbled to be a part of making those blessing available to the people here in Brazil. What an opportunity is this!!! 

Elder Johnson

Monday, May 12, 2014

Well, this week was interesting. It just goes to show that when transfer time comes around, everything's up in the air. We were expecting our new companions to arrive on Wednesday morning, and we planned accordingly, but on Tuesday we got a call saying that they wouldn't be able to come until Thursday morning. So, we changed our plans and winged it a little bit, getting everything ready to recieve our new companions on Thursday. Wednesday night we got a call once again, there was a problem with the bus tickets, we were notified that our new companions would arrive 1:00 in the morning on Friday. And so, midnight, we headed on down to the Rodoviaria to greet them, The happy ending to the story is that they got here (finally)!

And, I am more than happy with my new companion. Elder O, from Rio Grande do Sul. He's a little ball of greenie fire! All excitement and determination to get out and get to work, exactly what we need here. I'm priveleged to be training, and I look forward to seeing him learn, grow, and become the best missionary that he can be.

Other than that, the week was filled with work, and lots of improvisation. Unfortunately, it was also pretty unorganized. However, I look foreward to starting off this next week with a solid planning session, as well as splits with the zone leaders for the first time!

Elder Johnson
After waiting all day we finally heard from Justus late Sunday evening.  Aparently he is in the same time zone! Here's what he shared after an animated conversation with him speaking mostly Portuguese...he struggled to speak in English, a good sign of a matriculated missionary.

Hey everyone! I absolutally loved talking with each and every one of you yesterday. It was a great experience, and I am so proud of each and every one of you. You're all growing and changing in little ways. Especially Avery! How fun to talk with her and hear her making conversation.

But, because I was able to talk with all of you, I've really got nothing to say...Just know that I love you guys tons!

And just to respond about the parrots, I see dozens of parrots during the day! But the coolest of all is when you get to see a Toucan! 

Love, Elder Johnson

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hey guys! Thanks everyone for your letters. This week sounded like everyone had some good times! It sure was a sweet week for me. My companion and I worked ATE O PÓ! It was so great. Naturally, that means I just about dead tired today, but that's what P-day is for, recuperation!  This next transfer will be really interesting, and I have high hopes. Finally, we were able to move to a bigger casa (that will fit 4 missionaries) and both me and Elder T will receive new (and by new I mean brand new) companions. So, I'll be District Leader AND a trainer this transfer. It's a lot of responsablility, but I'm super excited to see cada vez mais the crescimento here in Alta Floresta. One again, this Sunday we destroyed the record of church attendance with 34 people, all of whom stayed to participate in the baptismal service afterwards.

One of the best things in the world is to finish a transfer strong. And, for the first time in my mission, the tranfer changes this tranfer were exactly what we were hoping for, but I'll get to that eventually. 

So much happened this week. I'll probably forget to tell half the experiences we had, so you'll just have to check out my mission journal someday :) The beginning of the week was fairly stressfull because we finally found a house big enough and centralized enough to house 2 companionships! We spent part of quara-feira and most of quita-feira moving, and what's more, we did it all by ourselves (no moving elders to help out here). In the midst of this move, we were also running around to confirm and prepare four of our pesquisadores for baptism. 

Regardless of the time lost in the moving process, me and my companion were determined to teach a record number of lessons, a record number of contacts, and break the record of church attendance here in Alta Floresta once again. And so, we got to it! 

Essentially, the lesson I learned from this week, is that dedication, hard work and faith in the Lord make possible what seems impossible. Our capacities were increased, and we were incredibly blessed. On Sunday we were able to help all four of our investigators, A, his wife, C, and the two grandchildren of A L, C and T enter the waters of baptism. And a total of 34 people came to our humble little sacrament meeting. 

Finially, last night, our prayers were answered by the decision of President Reber to send two more missionaries to Alta Floresta. Sadly, Elder T and I are splitting up to be companions with these new missionaries, but we are both incredibly excited to accelerate the work of the Lord.

  -(Baptisms) batismo e nosso reunião batismal!!
  -critters of Alta Floresta
 -when all else fails, buy a watermelon, and have your companion carry it home!
  -goofing off with my camera
  - after a day of running from one end of the city to the other and back again...