Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It's here, my week of "lasts". Yesterday was my last Sacarament Meeting, today is my last P-day, it's all winding down to the end. Each day this week will be my "last". My last Tuesday, last English Class, last time seeing and teaching all those who I have come to love. It's rough...BUT at the same time I feel so blessed! We're seeing so many miracles these days it's hard to count them.

The most unexpected of these miracles occured on Sunday. We got to church early, after passing by to pick up a couple of investigators, and people started coming...and just didn't stop. All the chairs and church banks were taken up, and still people kept coming. Sacarament Meeting started, and people kept showing up! Investigators, Less-Actives, Recent-Converts, all of the people that I've been working with over the past 6 months. There was literally standing room only, and a crowd of people waiting outside watching the meeting through open doors. After counting, and counting again, we discovered that over 110 people came to church yesterday. In a place where our regular church attendance is around 70, the turn-out yesterday was simply stunning.

It was so fulfilling to see that little church our "casacapela" as we call it full of people that I know and love. After so much work, and a lot of dissapointment, I finally felt like I had made a difference. 

These next few days, I'll be saying goodbye to all those people, and it's going to be hard, but I'm so grateful for the blessings I've received, and the strength the Lord gives me to continue until the end. 

esforçando até o fim!!!

Elder Johnson

Monday, August 31, 2015

This Friday will mark 2 years that I have been set apart as a full-time missionary, or in other words as a representative of the Lord. After two years, what can I say? I love my Mission, I love the Gospel, and I love my Savior Jesus Christ, and I intend to do everything I can now that I'm entering into "overtime" to serve him. 
As for this past week that has gone by, we're doing good. We aren't experiencing miraculous success, and to be perfectly honest, the going is getting tough. Even with all of our work throughout the week, the results are scanty. But, we're exploring some new ideas, and we're trying to figure out what exactly needs to happen to see growth here in the Branch. Just working like normal isn't going to cut it, we're going to have to be creative and bold!!! 

This Sunday we had a fun little experience that showed how creativity can pay off. There's this 9-year-old girl (Stefany) who randomly shows up at church alone on Sunday. She's super independant, and just a little bit...crazy. Anyway, a lot of the time she just stays for the Primary class and skips out on the Sacarament Meeting. But this Sunday, when she came up to me and said "I'm leaving now", I had an idea. I said, "wait a sec! I need your help with something" I had her grab the little electrical keyboard for me and she helped me set it up. I then set her to work choosing prelude hymns, and asked her to help me by holding the hymnal open while I play. Em fim, she stayed for sacarament meeting this week. 

With that little experience I understood a little bit better why a responsibility in the church is so important. Something magical happens when a person is asked to "help" in the Lord's Church. 

This next week, we'll be following up with a couple of new investigators that we found this week, and our challenge will be to work side by side with the members!!!

Até Mais!
Elder Johnson

pictures of Capybara!

Monday, August 24, 2015

We didn't receive a letter to everyone this week so weWhen we returned to Corumbá, we organized Emerson's baptism, and finially were able to help him take this important step in the Gospel. It's been a lot of time, and a lot of work, but we're finally seeing the fruits of out labors with him and his family. 

Other than that, the work continues as normal. Teaching, finding, all of that good stuff.

Zenock, WOW you're going to middle school! you'll be sure to learn a lot! Have a great first week of school

Talmage, Hope you have a great time at Corpus Christi with Mike and the family.

Ammon, Sounds like you finished up summer with a lot of fun, and that you're exited to start school this year. I hope your first week goes great.

Kumen, I can't believe that you're a SENIOR. In my mind you're still a little freshman! You'd better believe that I'm taking all the shots while I can. Have a great first week as School!
Mom, It seems like there are so many people going to and returning from the mission! It's great to hear that the work of the Lord is happining with such intensity!

Pai, ainda não tem uma resposta sobre minha viagem. Por algum motivo o escritório está enrolando muito. Deveria ter recebido os planos e horários dos voos um mês atrás, mas ainda não recebi. Desculpa por não ter as informações que você quer. 

Love you all, and hope you all have a great week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hey everyone! This week was great, and we were blessed with the first visit from Presidente Oliveira and his wife! They gave a much needed training to the leaders of the Branch and explained some changes that will occur. Starting in September, the Church meetings will start with the Sacarament Meeting. This will be a challenge for the Branch here, because a lot of people show up at church half an hour late. Along with that change we'll be looking for another place to hold our church meetings because the rented house here is pretty small.

The biggest dissapointment this week was that Emerson's baptism didn't come through. He had his interview and everything...and then his mom announced that they would have to go on an emergency trip because someone in the family died. What a bummer. We're going to try and re-organize everything so that this next week he'll be baptised.

Along with Emerson and his family we're working hard with two other families that are really progressing. Fransisco, Jo, and Mielly (dad, mom and daughter) are a family that we found a long time ago that is finally going to church. Jo (the mom) has a hard time walking, and Fransisco was out of work, but ever since we started to visit them, they have progressed so much. They are truly trying to have a new life, and the Gospel is truly bringing a happiness into their lives.

Finally, for the first time this Sunday we were able to help Marcello and his family get to church. He is in the Brazilian Army and has a wife and twin Girls!! Ever since we taught about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration, he has been reading faithfully and has been praying to find the truth. As of yet we havn't been over there to see what he thought of his visit to church, but we have hopes that he was able to feel the Spirit testify at church this Sunday!

So many awesome people, I'd love to write about each one, but there is neither time nor space to do so. 

I hope everyone has a fantastic week. 

lembra, fica firme!!

Elder Johnson

Monday, August 10, 2015

It's a whole new transfer everyone!! We got started great this week. I'm loving my new companion, so let me start out with some info...

Name- Elder Borges
From- São Luis, Maranhão (yup another Nordestino)
Age- 19, with 4 months on the mission.
Type- super cool, hard worker, obedient, and with a great accent to beat!

Elder Borges and I have got some great Goals for this Transfer, and we're determined to de everything it takes to help the Branch here grow. 

This week, I spent most of the time showing Elder Borges around, and we were able to follow up with all of our progressing investigators, and find some new people with a lot of potential. And, last but not least, we were able to finish up the week with a great baptism! It was for sure one of those miracle moments where the Lord simply prepared someone for us to find, teach and baptise.

This next weekend, President Oliveira should be able to make a visit here to Corumbá!!

We're looking forward to another great week too!!

Elder Johnson
1. me with two future missionaries
2. Nelson and his family!!
3. a random guy cleaning our roof

4. irmão Sydney working hard!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

When President Hinckley said that there's a better way to do missionary work than knocking on doors, he wasn't kidding. My companion and I have done a LOT of door knocking (which is actually hand clapping here in Brazil), and it's a ton of work with very little results. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that miracles can happen and all that, but it's not exactly the most effective thing to do. It's truly a miracle when we find people that not only let us share our message, but want to LIVE according to what we teach and DISCOVER the truths that we know and love.

But, even with these frustrations, I feel like the Lord will recognize the effort we're putting forth to do this work. After days of dissapointment there are miracle moments that prove that we're not at the helm! One of those moments happened this week. About a month ago, we found a less-active lady who has an 11 year-old daughter who was never baptised. This lady isn't able to come to church very often because of her "husband" (not legally married or anything, just living together and having kids together like normal), who doesn't accept the missionaries at home. Because of that particular problem, we always mark lessons at the church, but a couple of weeks had gone by without them showing up at these appointments. We were just about giving up on the family, and we were going to give them one last chance this week. Finially they showed up at the church, mother & daughter, and the daughter prayed about the message of the Restoration, went to church this Sunday and will be baptised next week!

For lack of other remarkable stories, I'll get on with the news. My companion Elder Smittenaar is getting transferred to...ALTA FLORESTA, and I'm sending him with a bunch of letters for the people there. My new companion is a Brazilian, Elder Borges... I think he's relatively new in the mission...and he'll probably get here on Wednesday!

Have a great week everyone!!

1. family night with the Elders!

2. Irmão Stepherson!!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Another week down and out! How the time flies when you're having fun. A lot of great stuff is happening, with plenty of trials to make it all worth it!

This week the big event was a "helping hands" service project that we participated in on Saturday. As part of a nationwide outreach, each church unit chose another religios denomination in need of a helping hand. Here in Corumbá the Branch came together to put in concrete and plumbing at another church building. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with the brazilian construction process, let me tell you it is a lot of work. The toughest part involves mixing sand, rock, and cement with water to make the concrete. The mixing however is always done by hand with a hoe. I spent a couple of hours as the designated "cement mixer", and can now mark that one off as a job never again to be taken. I woke up Sunday morning with a super stiff back, and I'm still feeling the effects of that particular service project.

My soreness aside, this week was pretty great. We were able to mark the baptism of Emerson jr., and get permission from his dad who isn't a member. Emerson is a great Young Man (14 years old), who's mom and sister we've recently reactivated. It's great to be having a lot of sucess with these part-member families. 

This upcoming week is the last of this transfer, so next week I'll have some transfer updates!!
Até mais!
Elder Johnson

1. district t-shirt

2-4. helping hands project

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Another great week! We got back from Campo Grande on Wednesday, and while we were there we met President and Sister Oliveira! They're a great couple, and they're bringing a lot to the Brazil Cuiabá Mission. Along with the training, they had individual interviews with all of the misionaries. During the training they talked about the importance of "opening our mouths" and talking with everyone about the incredible messages we bring. "There's no school like the old school" as they say. Horay for street contacts and knocking doors. Sometimes, that's just what it takes. In my interview with President, among other things he told me that I should probably decide on something to do after the mission....yet another sign that my time here in Brazil is drawing to a close.

Anyway, because of some miss-marked tickets we ended up getting a ride on the "executivo" bus back to Corumbá. It was wonderful. Slept the entire ride long.

We got right to work here in Corumbá, and finially had a break through with Gonzalo and his family. Once again there is hope for them. It won't be easy, but with the Lord's help it will be possible to help them really make these covenants with our Heavenly Father.

Among other things, our District put on a Branch Activity all about the Book of Mormon. We all dressed up as BoM characters, and I was Nefi!! I never knew you could make a costume with a blanket, towel, tie and saftey pin, but it turned out all right.

I hope everyone has a great week!


ELder JOhnson

Friday, July 3, 2015

To Everyone,
This week marks the long-awaited mission President change. President Reber is heading out, and President Oliveira will take charge! After such a long time working with President Reber, it'll be a change for sure, but I know the Lord prepares his leaders. I can only express my gratidude to President Reber for everything he did to love and help the members and missionaries of this mission.

Other than that big news, the week here in Corumbá was just a lot of work. We are being blessed with the ability to teach a LOT, but now our challenge is to involve the members and teach with them!

As for great experiences, there were two different moments that were just awesome. First of those was with Marcus, a young man preparing to go on a mission of his own. Every once and awhile, we stop by his house to keep him exited, and this week we had a neat experience with him. I was trying to think of a scripture we could share with him and Alma 29 came to mind. As I was opening up, Marcus said that had read a question about a certain chapter...he proceeded to open up his own Book of Mormon to...ALMA 29! Thank you Holy Ghost.

Lastly, we finished up the week yesterday with a "family night" at Isac's house. His parents were having a rough time, so we set up this activity to try and lift their spirits. We all had a great time. We invited another couple (Sydney and Yolanda) and took advantade of the activity to celebrate their 1st annaversary as members of the church!!! I truly love the people here in Corumbá and seeing them happy makes me happy.

Here's to yet another week!
Elder Johnson

Monday, June 22, 2015

Another quick week, but with some big lessons learned. It is so interesting that when you are studying and praying to apply certain principles, God gives you experiences that help you really understand. As they say, "don't pray for patience if you don't want to have experiences that try your patience". 

This week I was actually studying humility and charity instead of patience, but the same rule applies. 

I remember at the start of my mission, I couldn't have cared less about numbers or statistics, recognition or awards. But, at some point that kind of stuff started to really matter to me. Pride started to enter my heart. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the work, setting goals, making plans, and trying so hard to do everything right. I for one started to forget about the importance of the people with whom I am working. 
Without going into specifics, I had my wake-up moment this week. I realized that I was more worried about what I wanted than what others needed. I hope that now I can be more careful about my priorities.

But now for the news and events! We started off the week with a division with the assistants (can't believe that I didn't get a picture), and the other companionship in the District had a baptism!! The Branch is starting to get things done, but they still need a lot of help. 

Finally, this week marks the end of President Reber's Mission. He was and is an incredible example to me and all the missionaries here. He did so much to help both the Church's growth and the missionary's individual growth as President of the Brazil Cuiabá Mission. As a "cherry on top" he was able to help Alta Floresta become an official Branch of the Church. Thank you President & Sister Reber!!!

Até a próxima!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Unlike last week, this week was remarkably eventful. I'm really happy with the things that we've been able to do, and the families that we've been able to help. 

First off, last P-day the entire district went to the marriage of Gonçalo and Dayne. It was great, with a live Bolivian band and the works. It was great to see the family progressing. The decision to finally get married to be baptised was a tough one, but now they are willing to be baptised this week! The best part though, is that they already have goals to go to the temple to be sealed as a family!!!

Turns out the whole week was a little bit more "trunky" as usual because our District was asked to sing a special musical number at the branch's Valentine's activity for couples. During the week we were also asked to record snippets of different husbands talking about how they show there love to their spouse. For us, in Corumbá,
 it's all just part of the work. As missionaries we end up organizing and running just about everything.

 Of course, the best part of the week was the baptism of Zach! We finished teaching him everything, and he was so willing to learn and study! He is already reading the Book of Mormon regularly, and more than anything, he wants to be a missionary someday. We worked hard to get his family excited, and we still have a lot of work to do to get the whole family involved, but we saw great strides of progress with his parents, who are now returning to activity in the church!!

I feel so incredibly blessed to be part of this work, and to help people make these decisions to recieve earthly and eternal blessings. I really do feel a part of the joy that our Heavenly Father must feel in "the soul that repenteth"!

Elder Johnson

Here are some pictures that Elder Alves sent me. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Yet another great week full of work. I find it slightly frustrating that the best times pass so quickly. Elder Smittenaar and I are working hard to baptize, retain, and reactivate with the help of the members here in Corumbá. This week we had sucess in working with part-member families. We were thrilled to see some of these families finially come together to church. There's still a lot to do, but good things are happening! The gospel is meant to bless the entire familiy, not just a "part"!
Due to lack of noteworthy/crazy stories, I'd like to share a little bit of our companionship study this week. We've been studying together a talk called "the fourth missionary", and it's been interesting to learn about how I can make my mission more meaningful.
In this talk, and in the scriptures we learn about the importance of change, or in other words the importance of becoming. One of the main doctrines of this principle is that we have the capacity to change our character, or nature. The plan of Salvation is a plan of progress and change. Thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ we have access to a molding power that can help us make these changes.
There have been lots of experiences so far on my mission that have helped me change my habits, and change my actions, but the true change I want to happen needs to take place in my mind and in my heart.
If anyone has ideas or thoughts that could help me on this quest, please share!
I hope everyone has a great week!

Elder Johnson

Monday, June 1, 2015

This week I think I've endured the most extreme temperature changes of my mission. Monday and Tuesday here in Corumbá were blazing hot, but it started to cool off on Wednesday. On Thursday, Elder Alves and I headed out to Campo Grande for a training, and there it was Super COLD (for Brazil). It was definetaly the coldest I've been in over a year. The worst part is, is that I know that it probably wasn't even that cold. I'm worried about the possibility of me freezing to death in the states...

One of the most striking experiences this week was teaching about the importance of marriage to a couple that's been together for 35 years but isn't legally married. It was remarkably frustrating to open up the scriptures and explain various passages that talk about the importance of marriage, just to have the hard-headed husband reject everything. Really! What is it that people have against going to sign a couple of papers. I tried to explain that it is a way we show our love and faith, both to your spouse and to God. The wife was loving it all, and wants badly to be married. It's remarkable to me how Satan is destroying the worth and importance of family in so many ways.
I know that the restored gospel is truly God's path to happiness and an eternal family. Of all the things I've learned so far on my mission, one of the most striking lessons has been the importance of the family unit. 

lastly, here are some pictures from this week's adventures!
Elder Johnson

1&2. selfies with ex-companions
3. birthday party of a less-active's grandson (the little kid is the grandson of Irmão Nelson, who we are reactivating)

4. hitching a ride!!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Another week full of work! The time is flying by, and there were a number of crazy experiences this week. 

Last Monday, after a relaxing P-day, my companion and I went out to make a couple of visits. We were walking down the road, and we noticed that there was a semi-truck starting up. The only problem was that there was a drugged homeless lady sleeping underneath. We ran to the truck yelling to stop and to wake up the homeless lady. But, the truck didn't stop, and the lady was so loopy that she was barely concious. Just as the wheels were about to pass right over her, we got to the truck and literally threw her out from underneath the moving vehicle. But, she was so heavily under the influence of drugs, that she wasn't even able to respond to basic questions. What a sad, sad existance. It is hard for me to believe that human beings can be brought to such conditions. I am infinitaly gratefull for the teachings of the Gospel that keep us from such a lifestyle.

Other than our saving-the-homeless adventures, the week was pretty normal. We were really trying to talk to everyone! We found a number of new families to teach, and now the challenge will be helping them get to church. 

The weekend was awesome! On Saturday the District had two baptisms, and I was able to do the baptismal interview of the two women that were baptised. I was struck by how the lord prepares people, and we were blessed with a beautiful baptismal service! Two rainbows appeared as we started the baptismal service, and it made for a memoriable moment as well as for some great pictures!!
This next week, I'll be spending two days in Campo Grande, so there should be some great stories next Monday

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Johnson

reunao de distrito