Monday, March 30, 2015

Hey everybody! It's been quite a busy week. First of all, let me explain the situation of Corumbá as to date. For the past two weeks my companion and I have "technically" been working in the Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission, but yesterday both President Reber and President Willard (from the other mission) met here in Corumbá to make the change official, so as of today, I am once again working in my own mission!!

 The Bolivian missionaries will be working one last week with us because their transfer is next week, and President Willard doesn't want to have to do an emergency transfer. The four missoinaries from Bolivia are helping us out a lot, and are working hard to have this transition go by as smoothly as possible. 
Other than the visit from the two Mission Presidents, this week has been pretty normal, but I'll get to the details in the group letter.

Yup, there's a mini Cristo Redentor here in Corumbá.

What to write...what to write...why is it so hard to remember things that happened in the past week? Anyway, here we go from the start. 

This week we stuck with the Bolivian Elders in Trio for only two days, and the rest of the week we decided to brave the city on our own. But, now that we've walked around a bit, We both feel pretty good about things. Now we have an idea of all those that the Missionaries have been teaching and following up on. 

To get to know the area even better, we did some good old-fashioned door knocking. There's simply no better way to get to know a lot of people than to talk to everyone. We met some neat families, but it looks like we're going to have to bring in the reinforcements (members) to get them to church. 

Another bummer is that our high-potential family took a big hit this week. The father of the family went to jail...which makes things a whole lot more complicated, but hey, it happens. I feel so bad for the kids in the family though. They've been through enough already. At least now they have some support from the Branch!

Clearly the biggest news of the week was the official turn-over of Corumbá from the Bolivian Santa Cruz Mission to the Brazil Cuiabá Mission. Both Mission Presidents came into town for our sacarament meeting on Sunday, and I was honored to meet Presidente e Hermana Willard, who have done an incredible job of helping this branch until now. Needless to say, Sunday was a powerhouse day, and we were thrilled to have a great turnout at church. We hope we can use this new surge of energy to get some excellent work done!

That's all for now!
Have a great week!
Elder Johnson

 1. streets of Corumbá
2. Recent Convert (and ex-pastor) 
3. with Pres.
4. Missão Brasil Cuiabá meets Missión Santa Cruz Bolivia.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Well everyone, this week is full of NEW. New area, new companion, so let me get you all the info.

First off, I'm with Elder Viana, from the Northeast of Brasil (Piauí). He's got 9 or 10 month on the mission, but he's 22 years old, and was studying law. So, basically he's super smart. 

And now for the report on Corumbá. Here, our area is actually two cities, Corumbá and Ladario. One right next to the other. Together, there´s over 150,000 people in our area, and we've got a lot of ground to cover. Until recently, the Branch here in Corumba was part of a the Bolivian District (three branches) on the other side of the border. The missionaries from the Bolivian mission (who live in Bolivia) cross the border every day to work here in the city.

Now Corumbá will be a part of our mission, but because it's far away from EVERYTHING, it's not part of a stake nor District. Which means once again we are on our own. No Zone, no nuthin. Thank you Alta Floresta. 

But, the branch here is actually pretty strong (if you call 70 people strong). But, as is the norm, there is plenty of work to do, helping the church leaders, and strengthening the members, as well as finding new people to teach.

This week, we've been working with the 4 Bolivian missionaries. Boy are they troopers. With absolutaly NO training, they have to work in another country with another language! I've got a lot of respect for each one of them, and I've been impressed with their work here. This week was a lot of getting to know people and places, and I'm loving it so far!! 

Ate mais!

Elder Justus Johnson

Pictures:  the river (and pantanal) next to the city!
The pictures really don't do the scene justice.
Bolivian Missionaries,
Family of the Branch President

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My week was great. We were able to find some great new investigators, but as always there were new things that kept us busy here in the Mission Office. The biggest change is that a new city was recently transferred to our Mission from Bolivia. The city is called Corumbá, and it already has a branch, but has always been part of the Bolivian Mission. After a number of petitions by the members in Corumbá, the branch was finally transferred to our mission last week. To re-open the branch, President Reber is sending me there with Elder Viana. Because of this transfer, there's been a lot of changes in the mission this week, and we spent a lot of time working out the kinks. I for one, head out for Corumbá tomorrow. GOODBYE ESCRITORIO!!!

Other than that rather significant change, a bishop of a nearby ward also asked Elder Zárate and I to give a training in Gospel Principles. So, we missed out on our own Sacarament meeting, but were able to help out in another ward, and have a great meeting with the missionaries in that District. But enough jabber...
Lastly, a funny story. We were at lunch this week with a sister in the Ward, and she happened to have one of her friends there.  This would have been a great thing if this lady hadn't been so SNAKEY!  Among other things, she remarked a number of times on how attractive I am, and din't just give me her number but also her e-mail, facebook, and "whasapp" (Brazilian social networking thingy)...what really put the cherry on top is that she already has a 9 year old daughter daughter.  Talk about the need to get a life.

 1&2. sunset in Cuiabá
3&4. fun times with friends

PS from mom: Corumba, the gateway to the wetlands called the Pantanal is a city 96,000 by the border of Bolivia.  The mission president and his wife visited Corumba a few weeks ago. The branch there has been part of the Bolivian mission and after years of deliberation has become part of the Cuiaba mission so Justus will be the first missionary from the Cuiaba mission to help the branch in Corumba.  

Well, that's it for now, next week I'll be writing from Corumbá!!
Love, Elder Johnson

Monday, March 9, 2015

Has anyone ever had a time where everything seems to be falling in place, a moment that God just seems to let everything happen in the way you want it to. If you've had an experience like that, you'll be able to understand the division that we had in Alta Floresta this week. To return to the city in which I spent so much time and dedicated so much work was nothing but a dream come true. I walked those same streets that I remember so well, and what's more I was able to teach and help many of those that I had taught or baptised last year. As is the norm in that City, I was able to witness miracles. One of the most remarkable things was that the very day that Elder Zárate and I left Alta Floresta, Ana Lucia, a remarkable member who helped the missionaries teach and baptize her son and grandchildren, returned after months of living in Juara. I was able see her, along with the family of Elizete & Paulo, with their sons Moroni and Lucas. 
I could write the entire day about how awesome our visit to Alta Floresta was, but I think I'll get on with this week's summary. We took a bus from Alta to Sorriso, and after a 9 hour trip we got there to do some more divisions. I worked with another old friend, Elder Dodson, who was in my district in Rondonopolis. We had a remarkably successful day, and invented a new tecnique to gain member trust that we dubbed "tecnica do sorvete". We finally got back in our area on Friday, and were able to get some good visits with some families.
On Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference with the presence of Elder Costa the President of the Brasil Area. He gave a couple of great talks, and helped me us identify the importance of counsels in Church and familiy.

This week, we'll be able to spend just about the entire week here in our area. YAY!!! Hopefully we can follow up with those that are going to church, and contact some of the references that we received this weekend. I'm super excited to really get to work, and the Ward here is ready and willing to back us up!

Ate mais!

Elder Justus Johnson

1. dual wielding
2. root beer for the first time in a year!!!!
3. overly friendly bird.

Monday, March 2, 2015

These letters are gonna have to be quick. I'm leaving in 1 hour to get a plane to Alta Floresta. That's right, I'm going back!!!!! This time to do divisions. We're going to spend just about the entire week doing divisions with some cities in the north part of the mission (Sorriso + Sinop).

This week was way diffierent. Here in the mission office it's a whole new type of work. We're resposable for helping the mission in a lot of admisistration. Among other things this week we...Finished up the transfers, helping all the missionaries get to their new areas, recieved and trained the new missionaries coming from the MTC, updated the mission roster, met & planned with President Reber and the mission staff, prepared and gave a training to Zone Leaders in the Mission Leadership Conference, and planned and marked all of our divisions for the entire transfer. 

With all the administrative work, we havn't been able to fully dedicate to our own area here. As of now, we're working with some recent converts and less actives that live here close to the mission office. But, the Ward here is fantastic, and they're all super willing to help us out with missionary work. On Friday we helped with and Open House of the chapel, and it was a great sucess!! The Ward got really exited about missionary work, and we were able to get a couple of good contacts in!

It's been hard adjusting to the new rhythm, and I've been frustrated more than a couple of times with my inability to get out and work in the streets like I normally do.  With this week of traveling and divisions ahead of me, I'm really going to have to rely on more than my own strength to make it through.  But, I know that the Lord is with us.  He really guides this work, and he makes possible the impossible!
Até mais
Elder Justus Johnson