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