Elder Zachary D. Johnson's Mission

Elder Zachary D. Johnson's Mission
Elder Zac Johnson has been called to serve in the Brazil Santos Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and wants you to share in his adventure! "Take the leap with me."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Week 8: East Tucson

Merry Christmas!
It's weird to say that because it doesn't feel like Christmas here. We don't have any christmas music at the apartment so it's pretty much Jack Johnson all the time. I love it though. I'm not focused on the presents. I'm focused on what we can give the people here. We had our investigator come to church and she is super excited to be baptized. Her husband.... not so happy about that. But all is well here. The ward here is absolutely great!
Okay CRAZY STORY TIME! For the first truly weird story of my mission, I have a great one. So Wednesday was exchanges day and one of our Zone Leaders, Elder Ginn, came to be with me for the day. Yeah, I had been in this area for 10 days and had to take a ZL around... Lame I know. Anyways, we walk past this bus stop and Ginn starts talking to this black lady about God. She asks if we believe in the "High Power". I asked, "Like God? The Creator?" And she says "Yeah, the one who created us all"  Ginn, the trooper he is, says "Yeah we believe in God, do you?"
She stares us in the eyes, and says, calmly: "That is who I am."
I was stunned. How could I have been ready for that answer?!
Ginn says, "Okay, well, why do you think that?" This Lady just walks between us and down the sidewalk away from us, without saying a word. WHAT. THE. HECK.
I said, "Ginn... Did she just say she was the Creator?" He just replied "Yep!" and started laughing so hard. It was so funny!
Crazy Tucson huh? I love it here though. Success in our area is hard to come by but we will be rewarded for our efforts in some way!  My comp is awesome! He has become one of my greatest friends! I love him to death and we work well together!

As far as Christmas goes, we get an hour phone call or we can skype. I don't know if you guys have a skype account or not but I'm not sure if I'll be able to skype so I would just expect a call. It'll be a good day here.
And for mail, when you send it through the Post Office to the mission office, they can forward it to me so if my address changes or anything they can get it to where I really am. But my address is on El Toro Circle in Tucson. It is the View Apartments on the corner of Wrightstown and Pantano. That's all I really know (haha).

Last night was the ward christmas party and we got there way early. So Elder Daniel started playing Christmas hymns and I had my portuguese hymnal so I was singing along in my almost-native tongue (JUST KIDDING). Well the Bishop hears me sing "O little town of Bethlehem"  in Portuguese and then adds us in the program. He got done sharing his message and then he says, "I'd like to invite Elder Johnson to come up and sing OLTOB in Portuguese in front of everyone. It sounded so beautiful earlier, I would just love to hear it again" My jaw freaking dropped! Bishop Rustand is awesome but I'm never singing in his presence again!
My nickname here in the mission is Jack Johnson haha because i can play a bunch of his songs and people like it (haha). Have a merry christmas everyone! I can't wait to call!
Love you tons,
Elder Johnson

Monday, December 16, 2013

Week #7 Live from Tucson!

Hey Mom,
Tucson is crazy. Literally crazy. We have a relatively small area and we walk everywhere. The weather here is perfect! It is soooooo nice. It gets a bit chilly at night but its not bad when you are walking everywhere! We have one investigator and she is progressing, which is good. Because we walk, we get a couple birds flipped at us and some people say some really funny things. But the members always honk and wave and that happens way more than the other garbage! It's crazy how a mission changes you. I am a much happier person and I find myself really caring for the people we talk to. I absolutely believe I am here for a reason. We have made progress with people who haven't had wanted a thing to do with the missionaries for years. It's not me though. I'm just a tool in the Lord's hands. He just has to find the right size for the people who are prepared.  

We have one investigator who Elder Natane had only taught one lesson to before me. She is really cool. She is super young and has a baby boy. Her husband and her were high school sweethearts, got married way young, and aren't on top of things financially. But she is eager to learn more! The member that goes with us to teach Heather is Sister Lyon. She is from Ireland and is NUTS! She is so funny though. She is very artsy and uses very flowery language to describe the blandest things. But she cares a lot about Heather and it helps a ton. We are also working on an inactive member who got super offended at something another member said and so she left the church and hasn't been back in 12 years. But she wants to change and her daughter wants to get baptized so she is trying to come back. Both people said they would come but had stuff come up last second so it was a quiet day at church.
Church is super different here. The ward choir is 1/3 of the ward and they sing almost every hymn then the congregation joins. It's weird. But the members here are amazing. They feed us almost every night. They either host us at their house or they bring it to us. They rock. Missionary work is huge with the members.

We are at the Library. If i'm here in april, we get ipads. And we get to keep them if we leave the mission or go home! How awesome is that?
Elder Natane is a stud. He is so awesome. He is the greatest trainer I could ask for. He works hard and is obedient. We come home exhausted every day. We play rugby on pdays and friday nights we play flag football with some of the investigators and members (the mission pres told us to do it so it could be a misisonary op for the members haha). We can listen to music here. Imagine Dragons, Bastille, and Jack Johnson are on the approved list! We don't have a car so we can only listen to music at home but that's good and keeps us talking to each other. Netane is sooooooo funny. Polys are the best. He always calls me "Toks" which means brother in tongan. I love this guy! 

Other than that, we work hard every day. We come home absolutely exhausted. I'm still sore and we last tracted on Thursday. We played Missionary League Baseball while we were tracting so it was bearable. Getting rejected isn't as hard as I thought it would be. You just move on to the next house and hope they have been prepared!

We eat well and the apartment is relatively neat.  The bathroom is the worst part though.  Mom would probably barf!  haha. We eat Ramen for lunch and the members feed us dinner.  I'm so grateful they do that!  But sometimes they give us the ingredients for something and we have to make it.  Talk about an exercise of faith!  We had pasta and tomato sauce given to us last night and Elder Natane makes this amazing dish.  He just randomly put stuff in and made up an oven temperature and time and BOOM!  It was good!  Though it was probably Elder Ontiversos's fervent prayer that made it better or at least edible.  Elder Onti and Elder Daniel share the area with us.  They are super cool.  I'm lucky to have awesome elders here.  They are class acts but can have fun too.  I'm so happy that I'm here.  I love it.
Okay crazy story time! We were walking down the Highway to go visit a new member family, and this truck randomly pulls over in front of us. This guy gets out and is like "Hey are you guys Mormon?" We were like "Ummm yeah, can we help you?" He starts talking about how he wants to learn more about the Book of Mormon and asks if we have anything he could read. So Elder Natane, stunned, hands him a Book of Mormon, testifies of it's truthfulness, and then is speechless. The guy thanks us and promises to read it, says that he will give us rides whenever he sees us walking, then leaves. It was insane! We found out he doesn't live in our area (of course, right?), but he is talking with the other missionaries in is area. It's still awesome though! Miracles happen every day!

Love you tons,
Elder Johnson

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Letter from President and Sister Killpack

The following letter was delivered today!  

Arrival in Arizona Tucson Mission!

December 10, 2013

Shawn Derek & Shannon Johnson
Williamsburg, Virginia  23185

Dear Brother and Sister Johnson;

It was a very special experience to personally greet your son, Elder Zachary Derek Johnson at the airport upon his arrival in Tucson.  We were impressed by his great spirit and desire to serve.  We are grateful to have him serving here with us.

From the airport we took him and the other missionaries to the Mormon Battalion Monument in downtown Tucson, where we talked about commitment, and leaving behind all the cares of the world to focus on the work of the Lord.  After a brief stop at the mission office to have lunch and meet the office staff, the Elders and Sisters received instruction and training from the Assistants to the President, Sister Killpack and myself.  I had the pleasure of interviewing your son and getting to know him personally and to feel his wonderful missionary spirit.  Later that evening we dined together, took photographs and took the opportunity to discuss our purpose as missionaries.

Elder Johnson has been assigned to the Tucson East Zone, located in Tucson, Arizona with Elder Netane as his companion.  If, in case of emergency, you need to contact your son, please call the mission office at 520-577-7076.

As you write to your son, please encourage him to continue to serve faithfully, being completely obedient throughout his mission.  We know that he, and the Tucson Mission, will be in your prayers.  We also know that the coming months will bring many blessings into your lives by your son’s faithful service and the sacrifice you are making for him to serve the Lord and his fellow men.  Thank you very much for having prepared your son to withstand the rigors of missionary life and now to be serving with us here.

May the Lord bless you.  We send our love and appreciation.

President Roger E. Killpack                                                                                          Sister Bobbie P. Killpack
Arizona Tucson Mission

Enclosed is a photograph of your missionary with us.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Now, the true adventure begins.......

 This is where I am headed....
...but first, I need to teach for awhile in the Arizona Tucson Mission!!!


Thanks for talking to me yesterday! It was sooooo fun and I'm super happy that we only have to wait til Christmas to do it again! I am really so grateful for everything you guys have done. Well yesterday I met Pres. Killpack and he is just like Jeff Thompson... Sounds and looks like him so it's pretty weird. Tucson is a desert... cacti and snakes..... fun fun fun! My companion is a Poly from Utah, Elder Natane (Nah-tahn-nee). He is super cool and way funny! I can't wait to get to work with him.
I don't know my address for my living quarters yet but I'll get that to you as soon as I can. So, paper letters will have to wait.
 I can't wait to get started here. Great things are about to happen! 

How have your exams been? I hope they have been going well! I know you will be prepared and things will come to your remembrance!
I love you so much! Christmas isn't that far away!
Love you mom,
Elder Johnson

Week #6 Goodbye, MTC

Just like that it's been 6 weeks! I leave the MTC at 4:30 am on monday. That is so weird for me to think about. I feel like I just got here! Time really does fly! I'm so excited to get out in the field but I am a bit nervous. I'm grateful for the opportunity to start my mission in English. I think that is a huge blessing. I can practice in English what I'll say to the people of Brazil once I get there. Just remember, you always have a reason to rejoice. Always. Whenever Christ spoke to his prophets in the Book of Mormon he always said "Lift up your head and rejoice." Even when Alma was rejected by the people, God spoke to him and started with those very words. We have so much to rejoice about. We are an eternal family and we have the opportunity to be a part in hastening the work, a task that was talked about in every book of scripture. How exciting! Truly, we are blessed. 
Spiritual thought for this week:

St. John 15:13, 15

13 Greater alove hath no man than this, that a man lay down hisblife for his cfriends.

 This is the greatest sign of affection we can show on this earth. But focus on the word "friends."

Now read verse 15: 

 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: BUT I HAVE CALLED YOU FRIENDS; for all things that I have bheard of my Father I have made cknown unto you.

Christ showed us how to love someone the most. He laid his life down for us. He is our older brother and our friend. Sometimes we may feel alone but we are his sheep and he knows his sheep. He is always there for us and knows us personally. If not, he wouldn't call us his friends.

He will help us in every trial that is in our life. Something I learned about his help has really helped me realize the blessings He has given me: God makes us stronger so burdens are easier to bear. The burden doesn't change, the people do.

Watch my favorite mormon message too: www.mormonchannel.com/video/mormon-messages?v=2176618422001

Pretty awesome huh?

How have things been at home? Anything crazy? Things are pretty crazy here with everyone getting ready to leave. It's so weird to think I only have a day and a half left! I'm hoping I'm only in AZ for one transfer. I hope I can accomplish my purpose there fast so God can make my visa come fast! I'm so excited for Brazil! But I see this as my patriarchal blessing coming to pass! I'm supposed to "travel great distances in my missionary labors." Fun stuff!
Tuesday night we were supposed to have M. Russell Ballard speak to us but he couldn't  make it because of the snow. So Emeritus General Authority Bruce C. Hafen came and spoke to us! He talked about how the blessings of the temple help missionaries. He referenced D+C 109 and it was so cool! It really helped me understand my endowment. 

Tomorrow night is the Christmas Devotional, kinda weird because Christmas is still a couple weeks away, but everyone here thinks a member of the "Big Three" will be coming. You can only imagine the buzz that is here on campus. But it's snowing again. ugh. We got 9 inches last time! Gotta love that Utah weather!
Austin: How goes it little bro? Getting ready for christmas break? Continue to work hard, and you'll have a more relaxing break. If you have anything that has to be done over break, do it as soon as you can! Life will be easier if you just sit down and get to work. 

Cam: What's going on?? How is school? You were pretty close by guessing Texas. That was my guess too! But I like to think that I am basically going to mexico. My mission is right on the border! I think I'll have to learn spanish and I'm not too excited for that. How goes everything else? 

Lexi: Hey sis! I miss ya tons! I'll be using those bracelets you made for my suitcases again! I'll definitely be able to tell which ones are mine! I hope to keep those bracelets my whole mission. How cool would that be if I came home and still had them?? How is dance going? I hope you are doing well!

Well that's all I have to say I think. I think I'll be writing some awesome experiences I have in my letters but will save everything else for my journal. You guys can read those when I get back. I'm so excited to leave this frozen wasteland that is Provo. I don't like it here... I'm off to the desert! Hopefully my visa will come fast then I'll be off to the jungle! It'll be so cool to travel the world, spreading the good word!

I miss you guys a ton! Have a good week! I don't know when I'll get to write again, but I will as soon as I can. In the field, P-days are Mondays so we'll see!

Com amor,

Elder Johnson


 Attempt at snow angels...They tried but got too cold.  Haha
We show off our brute strength in our spare time.  Just being guys, you know.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Temporary Mission Reassignment!!!


Dear Elder Johnson,

At This time we have not recieved your visa to travel to your mission. You will be serving a temporary assignment in the ARIZONA TUCSON MISSION until your visa arrives.

I'm SO EXCITED to be going somewhere warm! More so, I'm excited to get out in to the field. I'll be on US Airways US 2901 departing at 8:20 local time. I'll either call before that time or around between 1030-11 when I land in Phoenix. I'm so excited to hear from you guys! Almost everyone in my district who doesn't have a visa is going to Cali. one of the guys in my district is going to tucson with me.

Enjoy your night! 

Love You guys!!
Elder Johnson

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Misc. Pictures

 The Daily Schedule
 The Maze of the MTC
 The Mannewitz Family Turkey!  It was the hit of the district!  Thanks, Mannewitz's!!
 They call me Johnson...Elder Johnson
One thing worse than a prison haircut?  An MTC haircut.  Free for a reason.

Week #5

hey guys!!

Week 5 is officially here! I will be getting my reassignment on Thursday so you'll be getting an email from me in two days telling you where I'll be! GET PUMPED!! 

As you guys can see from the pictures, it is snowing here. 7 inches and still coming down. Blah. 

How is everyone??? Any super exciting FHE's? 

We have had 2 English-fasts where we speak no english all day. Those are hard but they help so much. The gift of tongues is absolutely real! I've been reading the scriptures so much here. They are getting really marked up. Especially Alma 32. Its all about faith! I have a quote from Henry B. Eyring written in the margin. 

"If the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts, the power to endure will crumble."

That is from his April 2012 talk "Mountains to Climb". The mormon message with the same title is amazing. I encourage you to watch the talk or the mormon message. Both have helped me so much. 
the shift key is broke on this keyboard so i don't know if much of this will be capitalized correctly. sorry! Thanksgiving was great! we had a devotional where we knew that a senior apostle was coming! Russell M. Nelson came and spoke to us about testimonies. it was great.  he looks just like he does on TV but i think my view of the apostles is a
bit different. They are regular human beings. they look so humble. it's
incredible. He taught how to gain a testimony. Alma 5:44-47 shows how to
gain a "pure testimony" that is mentioned in ch 4. alma 5:44-49 is one of
the greatest testimonies in the BoM. if anyone in seminary is struggling
with their testimony, have them read that.

throughout my personal study, I've been reading a lot about missionary work
and faith. The objective of missionaries is to "astonish" their
investigators. Ammon astonishes the lamanites in ch. 17 and 18 of alma 5
times. Also, the incredible thing is that although ammon was a great
missionary, he had to earn the trust of the Lamanites before he could teach
them. He taught by example rather than words. then Alma 26 shows the
humility of ammon. he is such a pro.

we also took part in the largest humanitarian service project outside of a natural disaster! we put together 350000 (four zeros) meals for the utah food bank! it was a great way to spend the day. after that we watched Ephraim's rescue! 

Turkey day at home sounded super fun! i hope everything turned out great! Not gonna lie, i think the christmas music is starting to grow on me. we sing it in every meeting here! also, it is snowing right now. we have 4 inches of it and it is still coming down. the mtc put up christmas lights up in the main courtyard and it looks awesome. i took a pic of it but only half the lights were on that night haha i'm going to send a bunch of pics today.

I don't really know if i wan't anything for christmas. I'll let you know the closer i get to the day if i need anything. depending on my reassignment, i'll need a winter coat. but that should be it. 3 people got visas this week! one was from my district. one of the new guys got his and his last name is johnson too! We have 3 elders in this zone with the last name johnson and 2 have gotten visas. I'm the only one who hasn't! 

portuguese is getting better. since my last letter, we have had 2 "english fasts' where we aren't allowed to speak any english all day and night. those days are much quieter than usual but awesome nevertheless. 

how is everyone doing? i'm so grateful that you and dad write me every week. a lot of the guys here hardly get anything from their parents and it's sad. i'm truly blessed to have such great parents! have you talked to grandpa and grandma riggs recently? they sent a dear elder but i didn't have their email so i sent them a paper letter with my email inside. I hope they have gotten it!

i miss ya'll like crazy and i'll be able to write you thursday when i get my reassignment. I'll also be able to call you from the airport when i leave so be sure to have a phone close by!

Elder Johnson

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Week #4

Hey mom!

This week has been pretty crazy. I got a package from Sis. Mannewitz and a letter from Sis. Harmon's Valiant 9 class. I thought it would be cool to write all those kids back individually so I did. It is so weird to be receiving these letters from primary kids... I remember writing missionaries in class haha

Thanksgiving here is kinda crazy. We don't have class that day but we will have a devotional where some high ranking GA will be there (rumor has it that it'll be Jeffrey R. Holland!). Then we are doing a service project with soup packets or something. It'll be a full day but I think they aren't having a traditional meal. I don't know. Either way it'll be a great day!

The MTC has only had me request the background check from the State Police. However, all the new missionaries that are going to brazil had to get FBI CLEARANCES so we'll see. Also, it is now official that the Church's last set of American missionaries going to Brazil will leave the MTC in Feb 2014. Getting visas is just too hard and Brazil has enough members now to provide their own missionaries. So I'm one of the last ones to be called to Brazil! how cool is that?

I weighed my self last week... the scale said i gained 8 pounds. There is no way. It has to be broken. But we sit around all day so I wouldn't be shocked if it  was true... yes I got my haircut last week. I didn't have to pay (they are free) but the lady didn't do a good job. I'm gonna get it cut next week again. Could you tell me my debit card balance? I have to pay my own baggage fees and I want to make sure I have enough money.

Yesterday we got to skype with a guy from Sao Paulo. He helped us with our portuguese but he spoke english almost the whole time so the MTC guys were pretty upset. He kept asking about my companions older sisters. It was pretty awkward. 

I think that's all that happened this week. Week 5 starts tomorrow! We get our reassignments at the end of next week so I'll let ya know when it happens. Andrew is betting that I go to Dallas. I wouldn't be shocked if that happened. Keep working hard in school! You're almost done! You're a great role model!

Love Ya,

Elder Johnson


It's already been 4 weeks!  How crazy is that??  Time is flying by!

I miss you like crazy.  I feel like my skill of sarcasm and movie quotes are severely under-used.  Well it's nice to hear Romo didn't choke the game away.  I told Troy this is our year to win because I'm gone and can't watch any of it.  I heard about the leak from Cam!  I'm sure everyone was relieved that there was hardly any damage or else Vacation Dad would have been unleashed!

Visas are something that are talked about everyday.  But I'm not worried about it.  I was chosen to be an example missionary to show the new guys how to begin teaching.  It was in English (the first time I've taught anyone in English as a missionary) and it felt so easy.  I know why I have to learn Portuguese.  It's teaching me to rely on the Lord and I don't think I had learned that lesson until now.

So I want to tell you about Saturday.  I was feeling super homesick.  It was the first time I've felt that way since I've been here.  One of my teachers, Brother Nothum (great guy, like the older bro I don't have) called me out of class and asked if I was okay.  I told him I was feeling homesick and just wasn't feeling the Portuguese.  He just looked at me , smiled and said,  "Don't even worry about it.  You are doing a great job.  I'm so proud of you.  Just keep working hard."  The cool thing was that I didn't hear his voice.  I swear I heard yours.  And I really needed that.  The Lord blessed me with that and I'm so grateful for it.  Even if it was just my imagination, it helped.  I miss ya, Dad.

Elder Johnson

Week #3

Hey Mom!
From the letters I've received, it sounds like things are still crazy at the house! It's nice to know the shenanigans hasn't stopped! I'm sure you guys will have just as many stories for me as I'll have for you.
The portuguese is coming along better. It is so interesting to experience this. As soon as I feel like I know what is going on with Portuguese, we learn something knew that makes me feel like I know nothing at all. In Portuguese, there is 2 past tenses, 2 present tenses, and two futures. And the endings are all different. And that doesn't count the irregular verbs (verbs that don't follow the ending pattern). But it is all getting better!
Thank you so much for the package! I got it yesterday and just in time too! I think I should be good for now. I don't really need a sweatshirt because I am wearing a suit jacket or I'm inside all day long. I think I have a slight cold and some of the guys are getting atheletes foot so yay... right? But I'm getting better and so is everyone else.
Today was the last day the Provo Temple was going to be open while I'm here and we got to go. I did my last endowment session for two whole years today! People who have a temple so close are so lucky. When I get back, we should go to the DC temple more often.
Elder Perry was so great! He talked a lot about companionships and how important they are. Afterwards, we had a "devotional review" where we talk about what we learned and the branch president said that not only does his remarks apply to mission companions but they also apply to our eternal companions too. It was really great!
Oh, on Sunday I finished the Book of Mormon! All 531 pages in 19 days! It is possible! My love for that book has grown exponentially and the answers I have received have helped me so much. I know for sure that the BoM can help us in all aspects of life.
So we have two teachers that also double as our investigators that we teach every other day. One of them has his character be an atheist. Of course, we would get the athiest. But we talked about prayer with him last night and how just like how if he has questions about numbers he can ask his boss, he can ask God if he is real. I told him about how I asked God when I had questions about the church and stuff. I told him how I got my answer but stressed that how people get  answers is different everytime. At the end, Brother Nothum was in tears (he is Jameson as an investigator) and told us he would pray. Then Elder Clark asked if he would give the closing prayer and he did! It was an incredible experience and I'm so grateful for it.

I miss you guys like crazy! but we are only 101 weeks from being together again! There's so much to do in so little time!

Hope all is well at home! I'm so lucky to have you guys as my family.
Eu amo voces!
Elder Johnson

Oí minha família! Eu gostaria de falar um pouco português como vocês! Como vai? Tudo bem? 

Eu sou gratos por vocês. Eu amo vocês muito e eu espero que vocês estão feliz!

Eu sei que a igreja e o evangelho é verdadeiro. Eu sei que José Smith (pronounced SMEETCH, it´s so funny) é um profeta verdadeiro de Deus. Eu sei que o Livro de Mormon é verdadeiro.

Boa Noite! Tchau tchau!

Elder Johnson

My MTC District

Here is my District and my room!  From left to right:
Elder Clark (meu companheiro)
Me :)
Elder Goldade - He is from Chesapeake and is a quirky guy. He has a really deep voice but does a mean Joker and mickey mouse impression
Elder Coronado: He is from Utah and got his visa last week! He was really quiet and all business but he could school us all at basketball
(kneeling in the front) Elder Winstanley (zone leader): He is from Grand Junction Colorado and a really funny guy. He is always happy and on the move. He is a ballet dancer for BYU but is totally ripped and one of the coolest guys in the district.
(blue shirt in the back) elder Johnson: He is from Sandy Utah and he got his visa. He was Coronado's companion. He was so funny, laughed at everything but the language came so easy for him. He was a beast at basketball too.
(Guy behind Elder Johnson) Elder Kinghorn: He is 6 foot 6 and from springfield missouri. He is the most amazing basketball player ever. He signed a letter of intent to play at BYU-H but isn't sure he wants to go there. He is one of the clowns in the group.
(gray shirt front red head) Elder Moore: cool guy from Colorado. He wants to be in the Marines but is hilarious. He rooms with us.
Elder Haygood: He is from Arkansas and was a band nerd there. He is the pretty boy of the group but he is a hard worker and is a good guy.
Elder Pavlovsky: he is our district leader and is from Colorado. he lived in a town of 1500 people and lost his left eye when he was 9. He played football and wrestled. He is SO funny and is a big teddy bear. He is one of my favorite elders here. 
Elder Schwantes: He is from Texas and is a total genius. He is super smart but is tired 100% of the time haha
Elder Bowman: Probably my favorite elder here. He is from texas, played outside linebacker and his dad taught him a bunch of MMA moves. He is so strong and the funniest guy ever. Easily the most humble and the kindest guy. He is going to go far in life! His companion is the 6 foot 6 elder. It's so funny to see them together and they make everyone laugh.
Santos: Me, Clark, Haygood, Goldade, Winstanley, Schwantes
Maceo: Kinghorn, Bowman, Johnson, Coronado
Santa Maria: Moore
Salvador: Pavlovsky

Companion #1

Elder Clark:  He is a great guy. He is from Northern Colorado and can be really funny when he isn't so serious.

Week #2

Hey Mom!

I thought I would send you a quick note now before i do laundry later. Yes, we have 5 gym periods a week. Four Square here is the most intense game ever. So many SC Top 10 plays happen. It is awesome!

Thanks so much for finishing up all that stuff for me. I'm kinda disappointed I didnt get it done before I left. I know you have enough on your plate! I hope you are feeling better about school! The Portuguese is coming along a bit better now. Pretty much we study vocab and phrases for each lesson we teach and learn about the grammar and the "why" behind it later. We have six hours of class instruction plus 3 hours of personal/companion/language/additional study per day. What really stinks is that our class room doesn't have a window so the class hours are rough.

But today is the big tuesday night devotional! Everyone here is super excited because tonight Apostle L. Tom Perry is speaking to us! I'll be in the same room as an APOSTLE OF THE LORD! It will be great and I'll tell you all about it next week!

Thanks for all the dear elder letters. they are so amazing to get. Though some guys in my district haven't gotten any but they are all okay about it. 

This will be the only time I ask for something but could you send a couple pairs of sunday and white socks? I have enough but just barely :) Also, if we have any extra CortiBalm could you send that too? this USU chapstick i brought is weak sauce :) 

Thanks for all you do! I'm so glad you are my mom! I truly am lucky!

I feel like a different person. I've never spent so much time in the scriptures and Elder Bednar's talk last week that we watched was a true life changer. I can't remember if I told you or not but I started the BoM over when I got here and I'm already on Alma 57 :D It has been so incredible to start reading with a prayer to ask Heavenly Father (Pai Celestial in portuguese) to help you with a question. Every time I have done that, a scripture has stuck out tome that has answered me. Personal revelation is real!
Word on the street is that Salt Lake isn't going to be calling any American missionaries to Brazil until visas start coming. It is incredibly hard to get them now. Usually Districts of 12 elders will get one or two visas. Two guys from our district got theirs and left last week. It is a rumor but we it comes from elders who got emails from their mission presidents about it. Who knows! If i'm meant to get a brazil visa then I'll get it!
Anyways, have a good week and I'll be talking to ya soon!
Elder Johnson

p.s. hymn 100, Nearer My God To Thee, is my new favorite hymn. Verses 2 and 5 are so relevant right now. I sing it all the time!

Week #1

Hey fam!!
It has been a LONG six days and I am so excited to be able to write you. I miss you all so much.
The MTC is an amazing place. Very busy and not a lot of free time, if any at all. Once I got here, I put my stuff in my residence then went straight to the class room where the teacher starting talking to me in portuguese! ON DAY ONE. Portuguese is hard, not gonna lie. It is very different from english and the verb conjugations are impossible. It is coming along slowly, but I'll get the hang of it.
My district is great. There are 12 of us (10 now, because two got there visas yesterday and left this morning!). My companion is Elder Clark. He is a cool guy. He is 19 and from colorado but he is the exact opposite of me. Quiet, likes classical music, very serious. So its fun. 

Mosiah 4:27 has really helped me. I got to go through the Provo Temple today and I prayed for some help with my struggles here. I read that verse as soon as I got back! God sure does answer prayers!

For your info, I am in Branch 70 District D and my mission code is BRA-SNTS.
Dear Elder is so cool. You get the letter the same day and it is a welcome highlight of the day.
I miss you guys all so much and there is way too much to say that will fit in an email.
I'll write ya next tuesday!
Love, Elder Johnson

The Departure

The future awaits...

18 years and it is finally here!

30 Oct. 2013:  We arose at 3:45am to make the trip to Richmond International Airport.  We were all tired and a little teary-eyed, yet we were all excited for what lay ahead.  Return with honor, Elder Johnson.

Zac and Andrew Go to Brazil: A Newport News Stake Production

14 June 2013:  Taking advantage of modern technology, Zac was able to do something that would have seemed impossible years ago.  Utilizing YouTube, Zac was able to livestream the opening of his mission call to friends and family throughout the United States enabling all to share in one of the greatest moments of his life.   This picture captures the exact moment he reacted to reading, "You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  You are assigned to labor in the Brazil Santos Mission."  In what must be one of the rare occasions within the Church, Zac is called to serve in the same mission as a fellow young man in our ward who would be leaving only 6 weeks earlier!

The Mission Call Arrives!

June 14 2013:  After several weeks of waiting patiently for the mailman to arrive and thinking it would never arrive,  a large white envelope from Salt Lake City arrived.  One white envelope.  One inspired mission call from a prophet of the Lord.  One excited family.  One excited young man.