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."

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.